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Medical Marijuana (MMJ) for Senior Citizens

enjoying life on retirement

As marijuana becomes increasingly accepted and legalized in many states, more seniors are asking whether this plant-based medicine is right for them. While the answer to this question may differ from individual to individual, there is no denying that medical marijuana can provide therapeutic benefits to seniors. Let’s explore why senior citizens should consider using marijuana as a treatment.

Medical Benefits of Marijuana for Seniors

Many potential medical benefits are associated with marijuana use, especially among seniors. For one, it is an effective treatment for chronic pain, which many older adults suffer due to age-related conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Furthermore, research suggests that cannabis can help improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, and even help boost cognitive performance in older adults. 

In addition to these physical benefits, marijuana can also be a social tool for seniors who live alone or have limited mobility. Smoking or ingesting cannabis with friends or family can create meaningful connections and foster relationships between generations, which is possible with this plant-based medicine and is becoming more common.

Doctor holding Marijuana

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

To purchase medical cannabis legally in Illinois, you have to have a medical card that takes no more than 10-15 minutes to get approved. Illinois state law allows online marijuana card approvals through telehealth (video chat or phone call), making the process easy. Senior citizens on a limited budget save a lot of money on taxes with a medical card. It can be as much as 41%. If you have a qualifying condition, it’s best to get an MMJ instead of going the recreational route.

Marijuana Research on Senior Citizens

  • 21% of responders in a Medicare survey reported that they use cannabis medically
  • 20% of American adults 50+  reported consuming cannabis medicinally in the last year
  • The percentage of US adult cannabis users 65+ that reported using cannabis within the past 12 months almost doubled ( 75%) recently to 4.2%
  • An estimated 9% of ages 50+ reported consuming cannabis in the last 12 months.  
  • A story of 568 patients, published Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported 15% of participants consumed cannabis within the past three years.

Most Common Symptoms the Geriatric Population uses Cannabis for

  • Pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Tremors
  • Spasticity
  • Agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • To improve appetite. 
  • Palliative care
  • Inflammation
Senior couple
Elderly African American

Marijuana can Help Treat these Medical Conditions for Seniors.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Migraines
  • Residual Limb Pain
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome CRPS 
  • Glaucoma
  • Substitute for Opioids

Safety Considerations for Senior Citizen Use of Marijuana

Though medical marijuana can provide numerous therapeutic benefits to senior citizens, it is crucial to note that there are still some safety considerations when using cannabis as a treatment option. For example, because the human body metabolizes cannabinoids (the active compounds in cannabis) differently as we age, older individuals may need smaller doses than younger people to achieve desired effects without experiencing any adverse reactions or side effects. Additionally, smoking joints or blunts may present certain health risks due to the carcinogens in those forms of consumption. Elderly individuals may have weakened respiratory systems; therefore, vaporizing or ingesting edibles may be better than smoking joints or blunts.  

Safety First


Medical marijuana appears to be a safe and effective treatment option for most senior citizens as long as they follow the precautions recommended by their doctor when consuming it. By understanding how their bodies metabolize cannabinoids differently from younger individuals and choosing the proper delivery method (such as vaping or edibles), seniors can reap the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without putting their health at risk. Ultimately, it is up to each senior citizen and their doctor (if applicable) if they think medical marijuana is right for them. If your doctor isn’t knowledgeable about cannabis, look for a marijuana doctor. There certainly appears to be plenty of evidence supporting its use in treating various age-related ailments.

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Article reviewed by:

Dr. Richard Koffler

Richard Koffler, MD

NPI Number- 1467557264

  • Dr. Koffler is a Physiatrist, specializing in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 
  • Graduated from the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in 1993 Dr. Koffler completed a one-year internship in internal medicine at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. 
  • Residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Rusk Institute at NYU Medical Center in New York City. Board certified in 1998. 
  • Trained in acupuncture at Helms Medical Institute at UCLA His medical practice incorporates proven conventional western medicine integrating eastern alternative practices. 
  • Medical Director of several medical clinics in NYC, Stamford CT, and Miami Beach, FL.