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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Nov;66(11):2167-2171. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15507. Epub 2018 Oct 6.

Characteristics and Patterns of Marijuana Use in Community-Dwelling Older Adults.

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Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado.
Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Denver, Colorado.



To understand patterns of marijuana use in community-dwelling older adults in Colorado.


Anonymous survey.


Two academic geriatric primary care clinics.


English-speaking individuals.


We assessed self-reported characteristics and patterns of marijuana use and effect on targeted symptoms. Survey analysis focused on current users, defined as individuals who had used marijuana in the past 3 years.


Three hundred forty-five individuals completed the survey (55% response rate); 113 (32%) had used marijuana in the past, of whom 55 (16%) had used since legalization. More than half of current users were aged 75 and older, and one-quarter were aged 85 and older. Most current users were white women. Of current users, 44% used marijuana products at least weekly for common conditions including chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia, and most found marijuana helpful for these conditions. Most respondents reported obtaining marijuana recreationally (67%) without a prescription. Nine respondents reported negative side effects attributable to marijuana use.


To our knowledge, this is the first study to characterize marijuana use of older adults in a state in which it is legal for medical and recreational use. Marijuana was used for several common geriatric conditions, and respondents reported few side effects. The small number of survey respondents, the lack of generalizability in states where marijuana sales are illegal, and participation bias were the main study limitations. Further research is needed to better understand useful or harmful effects in this population. J Am Geriatr Soc 66:2167-2171, 2018.


Cannabis; Legalization; Marijuana; Older Adults; Recreational


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