The demographics of cannabis users have changed significantly during the 21st century. A report from CNBC claimed that marijuana use amongst Americans aged 65+ increased tenfold between 2007 and 2017.
There are many possible reasons for this:
- Research is showing that marijuana is potentially safer than commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.
- Marijuana’s antioxidants could help with issues such as IBS, lupus, hepatitis C, and other conditions that involve inflammatory and oxidative damage.
- Cannabis is seemingly less addictive than legal drugs such as caffeine and nicotine.
- There are a variety of cannabis strains and consumption methods to suit everyone’s needs.
This article looks at the best cannabis strains for seniors and analyzes research into whether it is helpful or harmful.
However, we must state that the strains we mention are NOT classified as the ‘best’ possible strains for senior citizens. Instead, please note that they are simply strains we feel are useful for different issues. Marijuana is NOT FDA-approved, and you shouldn’t expect it to ‘cure,’ ‘treat,’ or ‘diagnose’ any illness.
Now, let’s briefly see which ‘type’ of marijuana is best for your needs.
Sativa or Indica?
These are the two main types of cannabis; sativa, and indica. They are associated with different effects, which we briefly outline below.
Overall Benefits of Sativas for Seniors
Sativas are generally associated with energy and euphoria. They tend to increase focus, improve your feeling of wellbeing, and improve your mood. You might try a sativa to:
- Help relieve chronic pain, including migraines and body pain
- Stimulate your hunger
- Assist with behavioral issues such as ADHD or depression
- Increase focus
- Boost imagination and promote creativity
Overall Benefits of Indicas for Seniors
Indicas are associated with sedation and are often used in the evening to improve the sleep cycle. They tend to make you feel drowsy, reduce nausea, and soothe pain by numbing the body. Here are some reasons why you might want an indica:
- Help you cope with anxiety and stress
- Improve symptoms of glaucoma
- Reduce seizures in cases of epilepsy
- Reduce the pain associated with conditions such as MS and fibromyalgia
You can use the strains we outline below for specific conditions. However, there is little evidence to say that a certain strain is the best for any medical issue. We advise you to use the following information as a guide to help find the best option for you.
1 – Bio Jesus
This balanced hybrid strain hails from the Diesel family, although there’s no definitive information on its genetics. It has an enormous THC content of 25-28%, so this is certainly a strain for experienced users. The high is potentially overwhelming for novices. It is initially cerebral but soon makes its way down the body, numbing the limbs. The likely outcome is couch-lock, so use it in the evening.
MMJ users enjoy this strain because of its ability to reduce the impact of chronic pain. It is extremely high in myrcene, a terpene associated with relaxation and pain relief. It is also an option if you have stress, depression, or anxiety. Another benefit of Bio Jesus is its usefulness for making oils, tinctures, and butter.
2 – Green Crack
This cannabis strain has become a major commercial success. Originally called Green Kush, Green Crack gained fame and a new nickname after Snoop Dogg tried it. The legendary rapper said he gave it the name because of the light-bodied and uplifting high it provides. It is a cross of Sweet Leaf Indica and Skunk #1. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid with a THC content ranging from 13% to 21%.
Green Crack is an excellent daytime option because it keeps you energized and clear-headed. Users often report feeling happy and relaxed. Some even use it instead of a morning cup of coffee. If you feel more tired than usual recently, see if Green Crack can help give you a little boost.
3 – Blue Dream
This is one of the most famous strains in California, if not the United States. Blue Dream is a sativa-dominant hybrid that’s a cross of Super Silver Haze and Blueberry Indica. Although it has a high THC content of up to 24%, Blue Dream’s onset is relatively mild. Users tend to experience a gentle cerebral high, making it a viable option as a ‘wake and bake’ strain.
Blue Dream is all about helping you feel better about life. Most users report feeling extremely positive after a few tokes of this strain. It has also found support amongst those looking for an analgesic. If your day is marred by constant pain, give Blue Dream a chance. You might find that it alleviates the aches that make it difficult to function and enjoy life.
4 – Afghani
If you have trouble sleeping, this is potentially a strain for you. Afghani is a landrace found deep in Afghanistan’s legendary Hindu Kush Mountains. It is responsible for the creation of multiple award-winning strains, such as Northern Lights and Amnesia Haze. Afghani is a pure indica that contains approximately 17% THC. It is associated with a potent physical high that puts many users out for the count.
Regardless of your THC tolerance, Afghani is unquestionably a strain for the late evening. It doesn’t take long for the sedative effects to take hold. Soon, you’ll find that your limbs feel like lead, and you have no desire to get up. Then your eyelids start to feel heavy, and sleep usually follows soon after. You might get a major case of the munchies before you fall asleep. Therefore, it is wise to have snacks, preferably healthy ones, ready to eat.
5 – Harlequin
You don’t have to get completely high to derive the benefits of cannabis. Harlequin is a sativa-dominant hybrid that’s a cross of Swiss Sativa, Nepali Indica, Thai Sativa, and Colombian Gold. It typically offers a THC to CBD ratio of almost 1:1. Harlequin has 7-10% THC and 10-15% CBD.
As a result, it provides a level of intoxication that means you’re always in control. Users say it enables them to benefit from a pleasant mental release without getting tired. Harlequin usually uplifts users and ensures they remain focused and fully functional. Consider using it if you want pain relief without succumbing to an excessively intoxicating high.
Is Cannabis for Seniors Allowed in Assisted Living Facilities?
A majority of states have MMJ programs. Therefore, one might assume that cannabis is legal in assisted living facilities in such states. As it transpires, every long-term care facility has its own policies on cannabis. This means that while one location allows marijuana, another one right down the street may not. Here are a few other things to consider.
Federal Cash Makes the Decision for Some Facilities
The majority of nursing homes regulated by the government receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. In return, they comply with certain Federal laws and standards. Failure to adhere to these rules means the facilities could lose their funding. Therefore, even if you live in a state where marijuana use is legal, the fact that it is federally illegal means almost all state-funded nursing homes don’t allow its use.
Deborah Pacyna of the California Association of Health Facilities highlighted the issue. The organization she works for represents 75% of California’s nursing homes, and she outlined its policy. According to her, residents are not allowed to use cannabis because their facilities receive federal aid.
Meanwhile, facilities that are not reliant on federal cash tend to be more lenient. According to the California Assisted Living Association, for example, which represents 600 facilities, the rules vary from place to place. While some ban marijuana, others treat it like any other form of medication. However, residents are usually only allowed to use marijuana if they are capable of self-administration.
Even if you end up in a facility where marijuana use is allowed, there is a chance that you won’t receive the approval of physicians. This is because there ‘isn’t enough proof’ of medical relevance.
This is a strange statement because tens of thousands of studies show that marijuana is safe for use and is non-addictive. Also, anecdotal evidence from patients suggests that it works well as a painkiller.
The location of an assisted living facility can also dictate whether or not you can use marijuana inside. Dispensaries in Vermont, for instance, are legally allowed to deliver cannabis products to individuals participating in the state’s medical-marijuana program. However, many facilities in the state are a fair distance away from any dispensary and thus don’t allow the delivery of cannabis.
Possible Safety Issues
Even in facilities eager to cater to seniors using marijuana, there are a few health and safety issues to consider. Most locations are forced to assess each case individually before coming to a decision. First of all, if a resident requests cannabis, the facility has to decide if it is practical or not. For instance, smoking isn’t allowed in most nursing homes, so you would probably have to vape or use edibles.
Also, the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in many nursing homes is an issue because it increases the likelihood of injury and liability. According to Dr. Cheryl Phillips of LeadingAge, an industry group representing over 2,000 facilities, if residents use marijuana without the staff’s knowledge – and if it isn’t part of their care plan – it will result in a safety problem.
There is a worry that care home residents using marijuana without staff knowledge could lead to increased health risks.
Ultimately then, a variety of factors dictate whether you can use cannabis in an assisted living facility. In most instances, you rely on the rules of a specific facility. In some states, such as Michigan, Oregon, and Rhode Island, ‘agitation of Alzheimer’s’ is considered a qualifying condition for MMJ. Therefore, nursing home employees can register as a patient’s medical marijuana caregiver.
Another thing to consider is the effect of cannabis on seniors. There is research that suggests it is potentially harmful, while other studies say otherwise.
Risks and Warnings of Medical Marijuana for Senior Citizens
In general, you could experience the following side effects from cannabis use:
- Increased risk of bleeding
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Affected blood sugar levels
- Sedation or drowsiness
It is also a fact that THC and CBD, in particular, interact with a large percentage of OTC and prescription medication. Don’t begin using marijuana until you discuss its possible effects on any medication you take with a doctor.
There is also a concern over the effect of cannabis on mental health and cognition in older users. A study published in the Canadian Geriatrics Journal in 2020 looked at 16 studies on the mental health comorbidities reported by older marijuana users.
The researchers found that low-dose, short-term MMJ use didn’t carry a significant risk of cognitive adverse effects in seniors who didn’t have a prior psychiatric history. However, there was a suggestion that longer-term use could lead to detrimental mental health outcomes.
Yet, a study published in Ageing Research Reviews in 2020 provided a different outlook. The researchers determined that cannabis use in older age is not linked with poorer cognitive performance. Therefore, the detrimental effects of early-life use may not translate to seniors. Nonetheless, the researchers pointed out that there is limited information on what is a vital topic.
Final Thoughts on the Best Cannabis Strains for Senior Citizens
There is no single cannabis strain that is the ‘best’ for any given issue. This is good news for seniors who often have more than one reason to try cannabis. You could find dozens of strains that could help reduce pain or improve sleep. There are also lots of options if you need something to energize you and elevate your mood.
The important thing is to understand why you are using marijuana. From there, you can make the most of what is a fairly large field of options. Finally, make sure you go ‘low and slow.’ Try a small amount of marijuana first to see how it affects you before using more.
Also, please remember that there is little research into the effects of marijuana on senior citizens. Therefore, you must understand that there are potential risks. Make sure you consult with a physician before using cannabis for any reason.