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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Care By Design (cbd.org), a large-scale producer of CBD-rich cannabis medicine, and Project CBD (projectcbd.org), a local nonprofit engaged in cannabis education and advocacy, have joined forces to conduct the first large-scale survey on cannabis and the treatment of pain in the elderly.

Research has shown that 50 percent of older adults who live on their own and 75-85 percent of the elderly in care facilities suffer from chronic pain. Pain affects a person’s mood, memory, relationships, and overall quality of life. Constant aches can cause frustration, depression, anxiety, anger, social isolation, poor sleep, and related complications.

A growing number of the elderly are becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. People over the age of 65 years comprise only 13 percent of the population, yet account for more than one-third of total outpatient spending on prescription pain medications in the United States.

With the increase in pain medication prescriptions, there has been an increase in associated health problems. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospitalizations for opioid overuse has increased most sharply among Americans ages 45 to 85 and beyond, with rates rising more than five-fold between 1993 and 2012.

Recently, cannabis has gained popularity as an alternative to opiates for the treatment of pain. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports, “In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal.”

“Marijuana has been seen as a ‘gateway’ drug for some time,” said Project CBD director Martin Lee. “For elderly pain patients, who get trapped in the frenzy of an opiate addiction, cannabis can potentially be an exit drug. In a country that consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids, that’s important.”

“Our goal in this survey is to explore how cannabis compares to other medications and to instigate research into the use of cannabis therapeutic for pain management,” said Care By Design spokesperson Nick Caston.

The survey is now available online at https://www.projectcbd.org/survey-cannabis-and-pain.

 

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