Seniors need to know pot may be stronger and have different effects on an older body, warns geriatrician. (iStock)

Cannabis effects may differ for seniors, doctor urges caution

The recreational use of cannabis becomes legal in Canada on October 17, 2018 and doctors say seniors should inform themselves before consuming the drug.

Dr. Mona Sidhu says seniors need to understand different strains of cannabis have different effects.


“Often seniors may think that cannabis is what it used to be and it’s important to know that modern-day cannabis is different than the cannabis that they were once exposed to or know of,” says Dr. Mona Sidhu, a geriatrician with the Hamilton Health Sciences group of hospitals in Ontario.

“Taking an edible or oral formulation can result in higher side-effects such as drowsiness, falls and dizziness.”

Cannabis in liquid and edible form may be stronger. (iStock)

Age can affect reaction

Also, age can affect the way cannabis is absorbed by the body and if a person is taking other medications, there could be undesirable interactions.

Seniors will most likely get information about cannabis use from pharmacists and doctors. For now, Sidhu says there is great variation in how well informed are these health professionals.

Guidelines coming

Sidhu is a member of the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health, an advocacy group which is developing guidelines on cannabis use disorder. They will include indications for its use  adding that there is limited evidence for certain indications.

The guidelines will be made available to doctors first, and then to the general public.  Says Sidhu, “just knowing what you’re getting and how you’re getting it and what you’re using is going to be very important before seniors try this therapy.”

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