Psst, what do you know about….. Mary Jane, Jay, Doobie, Weed, Pot, Grass, Dope, Ganja,Herb, Aunt Mary, Skunk, Boom, Roach…… about cannabis?
Despite many in the population having used (medical) marijuana for a number of years to soothe a variety of conditions from migraines to anxiety to cancer, recently legal cannabis usage has brought about significant changes in both attitude and access.
When marijuana became legal in Canada in October 2018, millennials were the subject of much talk on how legalization would work and the impact on millennials’ lives. Rightfully so, according to the Stamford Advocate, as the cannabis industry is currently dominated by millennials and “Gen Z-ers.”
Yet, while both generations are said to lead the industry in buying power, the Stamford Advocate also indicates that by focusing solely on these generations, the cannabis industry is missing a key demographic – seniors.
According to businessofcannabis.ca, “estimates predict that by 2036, there could be over 11 million seniors in Canada. This makes seniors a powerful influence – and an essential market for the cannabis sector. Currently only six percent of the senior demographic identify themselves as regular cannabis users – but this is primed to grow exponentially.”
Seniors are a likely focus of cannabis retailers, as seniors have an increased likelihood of experiencing multiple chronic conditions likely to require medical intervention and pain relief, a property cannabis offers. According to Candace Chartier, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, “Interest in cannabis among older people is high but there are lots of questions.”
Among questions needing to be addressed is how other medications interact with cannabis, if at all. These types of questions would benefit from specialized research with older adults, as much of the cannabis research currently being done does not focus on seniors. This appears to be changing, however. A CBC article from December 2018 states that the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health is developing cannabis guidelines to help clinicians advise older adults.
There are also companies like WeedMD that have taken an interest seniors, forming partnerships with long-term care and retirement homes and partnering with companies like Shoppers Drug Mart “to supply cannabis strains directed at seniors’ and women’s’ health”(everythingzoomer.com).
The changing landscape of cannabis use is upon us, and seniors are an important demographic to pay attention to, especially as the aging population in Canada continues to increase. What’s more, seniors have a right to participate in research and conversations geared toward their age group when it comes to things they are curious about, and that includes cannabis. Maybe it’s time to stop overlooking the power of seniors, and start embracing older people as important consumers in our society.
written by: Jessica Rochman Fowler