Everything You Need to Know About Seniors and Cannabis Use

Cannabis use among seniors and older adults has nearly doubled for 50-to-64-year-olds and increased seven-fold for those over 65 compared to a decade ago. With more seniors using marijuana than ever before, it’s time to get informed about it and learn how to use marijuana safely.


Canada famously became the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2018 (the first was Uruguay). While the once-restricted drug is now legal, marijuana is still highly regulated by the same government body that controls the sale and distribution of alcohol and tobacco. The full details of what is and isn’t allowed are available on the Government of Canada website, with additional restrictions in place in each province and territory.

Risks for cannabis use

Respiratory conditions

There is strong evidence to suggest that smoking marijuana regularly worsens respiratory disease symptoms and increases the frequency of chronic bronchitis episodes. There are no such effects if marijuana is used in other ways.

Links to psychosis

While cannabis use is strongly linked to the development of psychosis and schizophrenia, particularly among heavy users and those who begin using at a young age, there is no evidence showing that one causes the other. Individuals with a history (or family history) of psychosis or schizophrenia are recommended to avoid using marijuana.


An estimated 9% of regular users develop marijuana dependency, although this rises as high as 50% for those who use it daily. There is a common misconception that marijuana is not addictive. While it’s massively less addictive than opiates or stimulants like amphetamines, there is still a risk of addiction.

Benefits for seniors using marijuana

There is substantial evidence that marijuana and its derivatives are effective treatments for specific medical conditions:

Pain relief

– Nausea relief during chemotherapy

– Multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms

Additionally, there is some evidence suggesting it can be effective:

– Improving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

– Improving short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep disturbance associated with obstructive sleep apneas syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis

Use marijuana safely

For seniors using marijuana, it’s essential to learn to do so safely. Always start with small amounts and choose products low in THC and with equal or higher quantities of CBD. Avoid frequent use to reduce the risks. Above everything else, use cannabis in a safe and familiar environment and with people you trust. Never drive after using marijuana or its derivatives.


Cannabis use is a reality in Canada. For seniors using marijuana, it’s important to know the risks, as well as the possible benefits. No matter what, always use marijuana safely and responsibly.

Are you a senior using marijuana? How do you balance the risks and benefits? Share your thought with us in the comments below.

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