Objective: This article reviews the literature on the use of marijuana in the elderly. Pharmacists play an important role in the management of medications including drug use of potentially illegal drugs, including marijuana. The use of both recreational and medical marijuana has grown exponentially in the general population, including in older adults. As of 2017, marijuana for medical use is legal in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
Data sources: PubMed and Internet search using the following terms: marijuana, cannabis, delta-9-tetrhydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol, cannabinoid, elderly, geriatric, and pharmacology. Findings are based on data collected from older adults (65 years of age and older) through August 2016.
Study selection: Because of the lack of research and funding, reputable literature on the impact of marijuana on older adults is scarce. The available evidence suggests that elderly individuals should be cautious when consuming marijuana, especially those who have certain comorbid conditions.
Data extraction: The geriatric population has a higher likelihood of having multiple comorbidities and is subject to polypharmacy. Marijuana use, medicinal or recreational, complicates the picture with additive central nervous system side effects.
Data synthesis: This article reviews the growing information on marijuana use and discusses issues to consider and cautions in usage that can apply to day-to-day clinical practice and geriatric care. The role of the pharmacist in educating patients, caregivers, and health care providers is expanding with the growing number of states that have legalized medical marijuana (26 states and the District of Columbia, as of 2017). Important education points including drug-drug interactions, drug-disease interactions, and signs and symptoms of acute overdose should be considered.
Conclusion: With this review, pharmacists will be informed on recommendations on the use of marijuana in the older adult. Monitoring of therapy, as well as adverse effects, will be reviewed, including some legal issues and challenges.