The seventh installment in the series looks at cannabis use in people over 50 years old, the stigma surrounding cannabis use, and the concept of ‘plants over pills.’
On August 8th, 2023, “Weed 7: A Senior Moment” premiered on CNN hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN (1). The episode investigated how older adults come to use cannabis to treat chronic pain, anxiety, sleeping issues, and Alzheimer’s disease (1). Interviewees included research facilities in Israel, doctors, brand ambassadors, and members of a senior center in California on one of their monthly bus trips to a medical dispensary (2).
“Seniors—people over the age of 65—are now the fastest growing group of cannabis users in the United States,” explained Dr. Gupta (2). “Right now, we are witnessing a sort of ‘senior moment’…And [seniors] regularly prefer [cannabis] over the other medications they were often prescribed, such as sleeping pills, antidepressants and even opioids.”
In conjunction with the documentary, Dr. Gupta also recorded a podcast episode titled “The Promise of Cannabis as We Age,” in which he interviewed geriatric physician Dr. Aaron Greenstein on cannabis use during all stages of life (3).
Dr. Gupta’s documentary series on cannabis began 10 years ago, when he announced he had changed his stance on cannabis after looking deeper into the research and listening to patient testimonials (4). “I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof,” he explained in his article “Why I changed my mind on weed” in 2013 (4). “Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have ‘no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.'”
Since then, Dr. Gupta explained, he has interviewed medical experts, cultivators, advocates, and patients, including pediatric patient Charlotte Figi (2).
“While [cannabis] is not something that will work for everyone, that should not mean it isn’t available to anyone,” Dr. Gupta stated (2).
For more from Cannabis Science and Technology on cannabis and dementia, read our coverage of a recent webinar on the topic.