Use of medical marijuana is increasing in the United States and older adults are the fastest growing user group. There is little information about the characteristics and outcomes related to medical marijuana use. This study is a descriptive analysis of older adults (aged ≥50 years old) who were early adopters of a medical marijuana program in the U.S. state of Florida. Per state legislation, initial and follow-up treatment plans were submitted to the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. Data collection included demographics, clinical history, medical conditions, substance use history, prescription history, and health status. Follow-up treatment plans noted changes in the chief complaint and actions taken since the initial visit. Of the state's 7548 registered users between August 2016 and July 2017, N = 4447 (58.9%) were older adults. Patients utilized cannabidiol (CBD)-only preparations (45%), preparations that had both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD (33.3%) or were recorded to use both CBD-only and THC + CBD products (21.7%). The chief complaints indicating medical cannabis treatment were musculoskeletal disorders and spasms (48.4%) and chronic pain (45.4%). Among other prescription medications, patients utilized antidepressants (23.8%), anxiolytics and benzodiazepines (23.5%), opioids (28.6%), and cardiovascular agents (27.9%). Among all drug classes with potential sedating effects, 44.8% of the cohort were exposed to at least one. Patients with follow-up visits (27.5%) exhibited marked improvement as assessed by the authorizing physicians. However, the patient registry lacked detailed records and linkable information to other data resources to achieve complete follow up in order to assess safety or efficacy. Future improvements to registries are needed to more adequately capture patient information to fill knowledge gaps related to the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana, particularly in the older adult population.
Keywords: CBD; THC; cannabidiol; cannabis; effectiveness; medical marijuana; older adults; safety; tetrahydrocannabinol.