Marijuana use is rising sharply among seniors over 65, study says, and there are serious risks

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By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

(CNN) The sweet scent of baking cookies wafting from grandma’s house may be mixed with a more pungent aroma these days. The smell of marijuana.

The numbers of American seniors over age 65 who now smoke marijuana or use edibles increased two-fold between 2015 and 2018, according to research published Monday in JAMA.

California septuagenarian Carol Collin is one of them. About two years ago she began eating a marijuana “gummy” each night before bed to help with sleep.

“I am an absolute chronic insomniac. I have been ever since I was a little tiny child — it just drives me crazy,” Collin said. “I take this little cube and it just makes me drowsy so I can sleep and doesn’t leave me groggy in the morning.”

For pain relief, Collin uses a topical cream that contains both THC — the compound in the marijuana plant that makes you high — and CBD, the the compound in the plant used in medicinal marijuana.

Topical creams and pills with THC are only available in states which have legalized weed for recreational use. California did so in January 2018, giving Collin access to options she would not have considered otherwise. CBD products are subject to other state laws; despite their availability online, the legality and the enforcement of CBD laws varies.

“I’m doing this to sleep and provide pain relief and I find it works,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done it if it was illegal.”

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