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Marijuana / CBD

Older adults and medical marijuana: Reduced stigma and increased use

April 6, 2020


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Allen Evans
April 12, 2020

I have enjoyed reading your blog on the use of CBD for insomnia and chronic pain which I suffer from. I have been taking Ambien and Tramadol for almost 4 years in order to sleep more than 4 hours. I also had a pacemaker put in to increase my slow heart rate which means I also take eliquis twice daily. I would dearly love to get off the Ambien and Tramadol and was wondering if CBD would be a viable option. Also, would adding THC help? I discussed this with my family physician in passing but have not pursued it. I am currently 68 which makes me one of those children of the 60’s. I also live in NC where medical marijuana has not been legalized. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

William S. Beckett MD MPH
April 3, 2020

Not mentioned here: adverse effects of smoking cannabis (chronic bronchitis) and the potential for addiction to cannabis in a small percentage of users.

Peter Grinspoon, MD
April 6, 2020

Thank you for your helpful comments. While chronic bronchitis is a real concern very heavy cannabis smokers, most elderly people don’t use inhalational methods of consumption (and certainly aren’t encouraged to do so by their providers!), so chronic bronchitis is not a commonly seen issue. While the possibility of dependence on and, less commonly, addiction to cannabis is a real concern as well, this is something that is discussed by the provider with the patient as it is being recommended (as is the case with most medicines which have side effects as they are prescribed). For context, it is important to note that the risk of addiction to cannabis is significantly less compared to the rates seen in the opiates and benzodiazepines or other sedative/hypnotics that they are quite often replacing.

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