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Clinicians should be on the lookout for a potential mix of positive and negative clinical effects of medical cannabis in older patients, the authors of a new study caution.

Investigators collected anonymous surveys from 139 persons over the age of 60 who reported using medical cannabis in Illinois and Colorado over the past year. Participants who used cannabis more frequently reported higher values on health-related quality of life, healthcare utilization and pain. No significant associations were observed between the frequency of use and adverse events.

Although medical cannabis use appears to improve a range of self-reported outcomes, patients may under-report negative effects, the authors concluded. Positive and negative outcomes can occur simultaneously or separately in older adults, and clinicians should remember to directly assess potential risks and harms, they said.

Cannabis use increases in elders

Cannabis use has increased among people aged 55 years and older, according to a survey analysis published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Self-reported use rose equally in states that have legalized medical marijuana use and those that haven’t between 2016 and 2018. Men are nearly twice as likely as women to report using the drug, the researchers reported.

“Given these trends, we advise healthcare providers, including acute and chronic care providers, to be attentive to the potential for cannabis use in older adults,” Bill M. Jesdale, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts, and colleagues advised.

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