Older adults are increasingly using medical cannabis – this study sought (among other things) to determine the prevalence of adverse events.
Carried out by researchers from Canopy Growth and Santé Cannabis, the study looked at authorization patterns, safety and effects of medical cannabis in older adults aged 65 years or older. The majority of patients had no previous history with cannabis use.
While outcomes were assessed at baseline and then at 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-months, outline analyses were limited to baseline and 3-month follow-up data due to the rate of attrition by month 6; which was very high at more than 85% attrition.
The most common symptoms medical cannabis was being used for were pain (85.0%) and insomnia (4.8%). Cannabidiol (CBD)-dominant products were authorized most frequently (54%), followed by “balanced” products – those containing CBD and THC (42%), and then THC dominant products (4.4%).
In terms of effectiveness, significant reductions in pain symptoms, worst pain, average pain, current pain, and pain severity were observed.
The most frequently reported adverse events – all of which were mild – were dizziness (18.2%), nausea (9.1%), dry mouth (9.1%), and tinnitus (9.1%). No serious adverse events were reported over the 3-month follow-up period. That tinnitus was present among the adverse events was interesting, and something the researchers state should be further investigated to determine the generalizability of this observation.
The researchers concluded:
“Overall, results suggest medical cannabis was safe, well-tolerated, and associated with clinically meaningful reductions in pain in this sample of older adults. However, the potential bias introduced by the high subject attrition rate means that all findings should be interpreted cautiously and confirmed by more rigorous studies.”
The fully study report has been published in Journal of Cannabis Research.
Canopy Growth is a cannabis company headquartered in Ontario, Canada. Santé Cannabis, also based in Canada, describes itself as the nexus of health, community and research in medical cannabis.