Green and gray don’t always mix.
Pot-related emergency room visits for Californians over the age of 65 have exploded by 1,800% since 2005, according to a new study.
Accustomed to the milder marijuana of their youth, older cannabis users are often unable to handle more potent forms now readily available to them, the report found.
The University of California at San Diego study discovered that 366 seniors headed to emergency rooms for pot-related concerns in 2005.
In 2019, that figure vaulted to 12,167, according to the report.
“While cannabis use has been suggested to help alleviate chronic symptoms experienced by older adults, its potential adverse effects may lead to unintended consequences, including increased acute healthcare utilization related to its use,” the report stated.
Lead author Dr. Benjamin Han told the San Francisco Chronicle that most of the seniors likely sought help for marijuana-induced falls, paranoia and cardiovascular concerns.
“Many of them have experience in the past with cannabis and think they know how to use it and handle it, but oftentimes that’s not the case and they end up in the emergency department,” Han told the paper.
An increasing number of older Americans have turned to cannabis to ease sleep problems, pain, and debilitating side effects from cancer treatments.
While Han argued that marijuana can be effective for elderly users, he cautioned that few clinical trials have been conducted on the impacts of legal cannabis.
“I think older adults stand to potentially benefit the most from cannabis, but we don’t know what products or what dosage would help people the most,” he said.
He urged seniors considering marijuana use to do so in consultation with their doctors.
While pot-related ER visits for the elderly continue to spike, alcohol-driven medical emergencies still dwarf those numbers.
Roughly 187,000 Californians over the age of 60 went to the hospital in 2020 for booze-related problems, the outlet reported.
A separate study published last month reported a 245% increase in cannabis-related calls to poison control centers for kids between the ages of 6 and 16 since 2000.