Poll Reveals Seniors’ Attitudes Toward Medicinal Cannabis

Perception of medical cannabis in seniors
Image: University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging

A new U.S. national poll has revealed 80% of respondents between the ages of 50 and 80 support allowing medical marijuana if it’s recommended by a physician.

The National Poll on Healthy Aging, conducted in a nationally representative sample of 2,007 Americans, found that just six percent of  respondents noted they had used marijuana for medical purposes themselves, but 18% said they knew someone who had.

However, 70 percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably ask their health care provider about medical marijuana if they had a serious medical condition that might respond to its use.

Given this, an aging population and the rapid rate at which U.S states have legalised medical cannabis, doctors need to be prepared to be asked by their senior patients about it.

18% of seniors said their health care providers were knowledgeable about cannabis, 7% said they weren’t, and 75% did not know. Only one in five respondents said their primary health care provider had asked whether they use marijuana.

With regard to efficacy in relation to pain management, 48% of seniors indicated a belief prescription pain medication was more effective than marijuana, while 14% thought marijuana was more effective. 57% thought prescription pain medication has more side effects, while 9% said marijuana has more side effects.

The support for medical cannabis isn’t without reservations, which isn’t surprising given the era many would have grown up in when propaganda demonising cannabis really kicked into gear.

“Although older adults may be a bit wary about marijuana, the majority support more research on it,” says Alison Bryant, Ph.D., senior vice president of research for AARP; a sponsor of the poll.

Two-thirds believed the government should do more to study marijuana’s health effects.

More from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging in relation to cannabis can be viewed here (PDF).

On a related note, a recently published study had confirmed what many seniors already using medical cannabis may already know – it appears to be generally safe to use and works well for this demographic.