Patterns of Marijuana Use and Health Impact: A Survey Among Older Coloradans

Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2019 Apr 26;5:2333721419843707. doi: 10.1177/2333721419843707. eCollection Jan-Dec 2019.


Access to recreational and medical marijuana is common in the United States, particularly in states with legalized use. Here, we describe patterns of recreational and medical marijuana use and self-reported health among older persons using a geographically sampled survey in Colorado. The in-person or online survey was offered to community-dwelling older persons aged above 60 years. We assessed past-year marijuana use including recreational, medical, or both; methods of use; marijuana source; reasons for use; sociodemographic and health factors; and self-reported health. Of 274 respondents (mean age = 72.5 years, 65% women), 45% reported past-year marijuana use. Of these, 54% reported using marijuana both medically and recreationally. Using more than one marijuana method or preparation was common. Reasons for use included arthritis, chronic back pain, anxiety, and depression. Past-year marijuana users reported improved overall health, quality of life, day-to-day functioning, and improvement in pain. Odds of past-year marijuana use decreased with each additional year of age. The odds were lower among women and those with higher self-reported health status; odds of use were higher with past-year opioid use. Older persons with access to recreational and medical marijuana described concurrent use of medical and recreational marijuana, use of multiple preparations, and overall positive health impacts.

Keywords: marijuana; older persons; opioids; pain; survey.