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 2019 Jan-Dec.


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.