Due to an uptick of incidents involving seniors consuming too much cannabis, doctors are warning older citizens about how to consume the plant correctly. Eating edibles in particular, without the proper guidance, is notorious for causing panic, though the risks are rarely physical.

KOMO News in Seattle reports that doctors want to inform seniors about ways to avoid panic and an unnecessary emergency room visit. This can be solved with simple education about the differences between edibles, topicals, and smokable products and how they affect us differently.

It’s the responsibility of any consumer to properly research before eating an edible, or consuming a high-THC product.

“There are a number of different situations where you could end up in the emergency department, because of a combination of cannabis and a medication or cannabis and another product,” Dr. Lianne Hirano of the Geriatrics department at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, told KOMO News. 

“If you are a first time user, or if you are somebody who is used to using products from the 60s and 70s, today’s products are way more potent. Your body and your metabolism might not be used to that level of potency,” she said, “That can be quite scary.”

Wall Street Journal reports that seniors are often susceptible to consuming too much cannabis if they’re used to lighter doses.

There are a number of reasons seniors are trying out cannabis for medical purposes. Some seniors turn to cannabis to help with sleeping. Researchers found that overall, cannabis helped seniors get, on average, an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Study participants used smartphones and actigraphy watches to log their sleep patterns

Some seniors believe cannabis can help when battling aging itself. Seniors are turning to cannabis to treat common symptoms of aging, with nearly 80% of those who reported using cannabis saying they did so for medicinal reasons, according to a study from researchers at the University of California San Diego. Results of the study, “Cannabis: An emerging treatment for common symptoms in older adults,” were published on Oct. 7, 2020 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

Today’s Weed is ‘A Different Animal’

Hashtag Cannabis Marketing Director Christine Bryant described today’s more potent weed as “a different animal.”

“The difference is when using a topical, you’re not going to feel the intoxicating effects of THC. But you will feel some of the anti-inflammatory effects that THC can provide for the skin barrier. That’s the difference with an oral (product), like a gummy or a chocolate, something like that. Is this going to affect your whole system? You’re going to process it through your liver, you’re going to feel whole body effects,” she said.

In the event that you consume too much THC, sniffing black peppercorns is an old hack that can reduce some, but not all, of the effect.

Studies show both improvements and setbacks due to senior cannabis use. Last January, researchers from the University of California San Diego published a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, suggesting that emergency room visits involving people 65 and older who use cannabis have increased 1,804% in the past 15 years.

Another study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society also reported an uptick in seniors who are consuming cannabis. In a survey of nearly 600 adults in the age range found that 15% reported using marijuana products in the last three years.

Anyone getting into cannabis should be aware of the proper titration in order to prevent panicked calls to the emergency room.

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