An Israeli study has found that medical cannabis has no negative impacts on the brain functioning of older adults.
In a study published in the journal of Drug and & Alcohol Review, researchers from the University of Haifa and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology compared the brain functioning of cannabis users to non-users. The study focused on older adults, recruiting 125 people aged 50 and over who suffer from chronic pain.
Participants were tested on their new learning, working memory, attention, and psychomotor reaction times. From this, researchers discovered that there was no difference in the brain function between cannabis users and non-cannabis users.
Results were also the same among cannabis users when testing for cannabis doses, years of use, use frequency, and concentration of THC/CBD. The source of the drug was also irrelevant, as researchers found no difference between cannabis users who had obtained the drug both legally and illegally.
While the study centered around Israeli patients, global studies show that cannabis use in older adults is linked to a number of positive health outcomes.
A Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment study published in September found that seniors who use cannabis have a higher quality of life than those who don’t. A similar study from John Hopkins University found that cannabis users take fewer medications and experience fewer hospital visits than non-cannabis users.
As the research around cannabis grows, so does its popularity among senior citizens.
Cannabis use among Australian seniors has been on the rise for nearly two decades, according to the National Household Drug Survey. In 2019, 2.9% of adults 60 and over were using cannabis, up from 0.5% in 2001. The majority of senior smokers are using the drug for therapeutic reasons, representing 22% of Australians who use medical cannabis.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, older cannabis users may reduce their nausea, improve their sleep, ease chronic pain, relieve painful muscle spasms, and experience lower levels of anxiety with few side effects.
Similar findings appear in the conclusion of the Israeli study, where researchers wrote:
These results suggest that the use of whole plant medical cannabis does not have a widespread impact on cognition in older chronic pain patients.