Cannabis for Seniors: Breaking the Stigma

Everything you need to know about cannabis for seniors: uses, tips, and top therapeutic strains and consumption methods. Get to know weed for wellness.

Cannabis for Seniors: Breaking the Stigma

Boomers are venturing into the cannabis space in larger numbers than any other age group. The more we learn about medicinal marijuana, the more seniors are exploring the plant as an alternative to conventional treatments for conditions like anxiety, sleeplessness, pain and more.   

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of cannabis use for seniors, offer tips on consumption methods and strains, and touch on some important considerations.

If you’re new to the cannabis space, it may seem overwhelming. One of our goals at Dimes is to make cannabis inviting and less intimidating. When you visit us in-store or online, you’ll find weed organized by intent.  Want a better sleep? Check out our Rest category.  Hoping to chill out? Try strains in the Calm category. You’ll also find potency scales, so you won’t be in over your head. Have questions? Ask a Budtender. They’re knowledgeable and love talking all things cannabis.

When exploring cannabis for medical use, we recommend speaking with your doctor or a licensed medical cannabis professional to develop a custom plan for you. While we’re here to help you deepen your cannabis knowledge, our advice isn’t meant to replace that of medical professionals.

 

Breaking the Cannabis Stigma

Because recreational cannabis is only recently legal, it still carries stigma. Over the years, the “war on drugs” positioned weed as a gateway drug that would lead to more serious addictions, problems with the law, and general laziness.  Meanwhile, anyone can walk into a liquor store and fill their carts with as much whiskey and vodka as they can carry.  The more we learn about this plant, the more we learn that most anti-pot propaganda was politically motivated. 

Like alcohol, cannabis can be enjoyed responsibly.  That means educating yourself, starting low and slow, and learning your preferences and tolerance levels. 

When we can get past the stigma, we can realize all the benefits of this amazing plant. One thing many seniors are surprised to learn is that not all cannabis gets you “stoned”. The effects you’ll experience are influenced by each strain’s cannabinoid and terpene breakdown.

 

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis – like THC and CBD. They’re what produce the physical and mental effects you feel after consuming cannabis. Cannabinoids can enter the bloodstream through the lungs, under the tongue, or topically. 

Every plant has different combinations of cannabinoids, which is why they all have different effects. The two most famous cannabinoids are CBD and THC. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t get you high. But it does have a ton of other wellness benefits. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the famous head high. 

Understanding THC and CBD percentages will give you a better idea of each strain’s effects. If you’re looking for help with sleeping, THC is often suitable. If your goal is to treat migraines, reduce inflammation, or generally chill out, CBD could be exactly what you need.

Is CBD good for the elderly? Absolutely. If you choose a CBD-dominant, low-THC strain, you’ll realize all the benefits of the plant without any head high. If you choose a balanced strain – one that has equal parts THC and CBD, you’ll experience some head high, but not as much as a THC-dominant strain. You can learn more about cannabinoids here.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the essential oils that give each strain their distinct aromas, like citrus or spice. Terpene profiles of cannabis are quite complex. There are over 100 different terpenes in the cannabis plant. 

Each strain has its own terpene content. Most strains will have one or two distinct notes, but there can be more that are harder to identify.  You can learn more about terpenes and their therapeutic uses here.

 

A Brave New Cannabis World

If you’re a baby boomer exploring cannabis, you’re what we at Dimes affectionately refer to as a “Bloomer”. Maybe you smoked pot back in the day, so it’s not entirely foreign, but a lot has changed since legalization.

If you smoked weed before and haven’t rolled a joint since, you may feel like you’ve wandered into a brave new world. Back then, most weed came in trucks, boats, and cargo planes from South America. You couldn’t freely walk into a dispensary like ours. Any weed you got your hands on was likely sourced through a friend of a friend who had a special “friend”.

Because weed was classified as a Schedule 1 drug back then, the US Natural Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) used to test confiscated samples.  Why are we telling you this? For one, it’s fun trivia. But more importantly, that data has helped us confirm the folklore – today’s cannabis is in fact 57-67% more potent than weed was back in the day. 

Why? Growing techniques have changed. New strains have been developed. And legalization has made way for new studies that shed light on this multi-talented plant.

If you’re a Bloomer becoming re-acquainted with the plant, it’s worth spending some time to get to know cannabis today. Let’s start with a little weed lingo 101.

Cannabis Flower

The Lingo: Marijuana vs. Cannabis vs. Weed

Tomato, to-mah-to. Marijuana is cannabis is weed is pot. These terms are interchangeable; they all refer to the cannabis plant. The part of the plant that gives cannabis its therapeutic benefits is the flower, or bud. It’s in the bud’s sticky resin that you’ll find the highest concentration of the chemical compounds that give cannabis its effects – cannabinoids and terpenes.

Other important terms to familiarize yourself with are: sativa, indica, and hybrid.

Indica and sativa are subspecies of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. There was a time where we thought the species influenced the type of effects or high you’d experience, but recent studies have revealed this has more to do with cannabinoid and terpene content than the species itself.

What’s a Sativa?

Sativa plants are taller and thinner with narrower leaves. Sativa plants have been said to provide more of an uplifting high. Again – we now know this has more to do with the plant’s chemical breakdown than the species.

What’s an Indica?

Indica plants tend to be shorter, denser, and stockier with broader leaves that have a slightly marbled pattern.  They were once considered to relax you and put you “in da couch”. While this generalization may be true, it’s probably because popular indica strains tend to have more THC and couch-locking terpenes.

What’s a Hybrid?

After years of cross-breeding, there are no pure sativa or indica plants anymore. All conventional cannabis is a hybrid in one way or another. Some are sativa-dominant. Others are indica-dominant. Even mixes are considered hybrids.

 

Marijuana and Aging

Now that we’ve recapped the basics, we can dive into the exciting new frontier of cannabis use for seniors or bloomers 🙂

Cannabis is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it’s a natural alternative to conventional treatments. As we age, the lists of ailments grow. For a lot of people, that also means the list of medications grows.  For those who want to limit traditional pharmaceuticals, exploring cannabis can be an attractive natural option.

Another reason cannabis is gaining popularity among seniors is that it’s relatively easy and pleasant to source. Dispensaries like Dimes offer great selections of more therapeutic CBD-dominant topicals, edibles, and oils or THC-dominant sleep aids. A visit to a dispensary like ours can become an enjoyable part of your self-care ritual.

While exciting, the research on marijuana and aging is still in its early days.  There aren’t enough human studies to offer total clarity and fail-proof treatment plants. Much of the knowledge we have is preliminary or anecdotal. That’s why if you’re looking to cannabis for medicinal use, it’s important to develop a comprehensive plan with a doctor. 

It should be noted that cannabis is not always recommended if you’re on certain medications. Check with your doctor before considering cannabis as a treatment.

Consider cannabis complimentary to a more holistic wellness plan.

Rolling a Joint

Cannabis & Pain Management

An estimated 1 in 4 Canadians lives with chronic pain. Cannabis is becoming a more popular option for treatment.

There are a number of promising studies exploring cannabis for pain management. One study found that of about 17,000 people with cancer, 70% reportedly experienced an improvement in pain and general well-being after marijuana use.   Another study found that those with chronic migraines experienced fewer episodes after using the drug. If you’re considering cannabis as a means of pain management, speak to your doc.

Cannabis & Anxiety

It’s no secret that Canadians are experiencing anxiety at unprecedented levels. For many people, the pandemic made any underlying feelings of anxiety and depression even more obvious. 

The medical community is confirming what many users have known for decades. Weed can chill you out. Even CBD, which is non-psychoactive, can mellow your mood and reduce racing thoughts. 

At Dimes, we organize our cannabis by intent. If reducing anxiety and calming the mind is what you’re after, check out our Calm category.

Cannabis & Sleeplessness

One of the most exciting areas of cannabis research is sleep.  Taking an edible or capsule before bed can help quiet the mind, helping restless sleepers ease into dreamland more easily.

Studies show that THC can help with sleeplessness. If you’re someone who struggles to doze off, take a look at our Rest category.

Cannabis & Inflammation

Stiff, sore, or swollen? Consider supplementing your epsom baths with cannabis. Topicals, edibles, and capsules can help with inflammation. While CBD helps with inflammation, studies have found it even more effective when combined with other cannabinoids like THC. This is known as The Entourage Effect.

 

Recreational vs. Medical Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a senior exploring cannabis for wellness, you may have heard of medical marijuana. You may be wondering if medical marijuana is any different than recreational cannabis. The answer is yes and no.

The main difference comes down to intent. If you intend on using cannabis to treat medical conditions, you should seek out medical marijuana. If you’re using it more for enjoyment or ongoing self-care and recreation, then you can explore recreational options.

What is medical marijuana? Medical marijuana is cannabis that’s prescribed by a licensed medical professional. Because you’re developing a plan with a doctor, your plan will be much more precise when it comes to choosing a consistent dose and strain. Cannabinoids and terpenes are selected specifically for your medical needs. 

Precision of dosing is a higher priority, so medical marijuana professionals will work with licensed producers with meticulous attention to consistency.

Who is Medical Marijuana Good For?

If you’re considering cannabis for treating a chronic or acute condition, medical marijuana could be the right route to take. Some conditions may even be aggravated by cannabis.  For example, if you’ve recently had a heart attack. Or, if you’re on certain medications that cannabis can interfere with. Maybe you have a history with anxiety or psychosis. That’s why it’s important for seniors with medical conditions to speak with their doctors. d

Cannabis Oil

Cannabis Consumption Methods

Weed’s come a long way. While joints are the most prolific consumption method, legalization has made way for innovation that’s led to new ways to partake. 

Oils

Cannabis oils are oils that have been infused with cannabis. They’re consumed under the tongue (sublingually). This allows them to bypass the digestive system and be felt faster.

The onset time of oils is only 5-20 minutes. The effects typically last 30 minutes to 3 hours, but it depends on the individual.

Edibles

Edibles are another popular consumption method. Who wouldn’t want brownies to be part of their wellness plan?  When consumed, cannabinoids and terps pass through the liver where they’re metabolized. 

When this happens, the THC converts from Delta-9 to 11-Hydroxy-THC. In non-science terms, that just means that even though it takes longer to feel the effects, they can be a lot stronger than other consumption methods.

Are edibles safe for seniors? If you’ve talked to your doctor and been given the clear to use cannabis, edibles are just as safe as other consumption methods.  Start low and slow with edibles. To avoid a bad trip, you need to give them time to kick in before increasing your dose. 

If you’re taking them for sleep (THC is recommended for sleep), take them 30 minutes before bed. They can take up to 90 minutes to kick in and their results can last up to 3 hours – just enough to fall into a deep restorative sleep.

Topicals

Topical cannabis like creams, salves and patches provide non-intoxicating benefits since the cannabinoids can’t pass through the bloodstream to the brain. They’re commonly used for topical relief of aches and pains. They only take 5-10 minutes to kick in and their results last from 2-4 hours on average.

Smoking & Vaping

Inhaling is by far the most common form of consuming cannabis. It’s quick, convenient, and accessible. Smoking or vaping allows cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the lungs, so you’ll feel its effects near instantly.

Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor using a battery-powered vaping device or e-cigarette. They have cartridges filled with a liquid that contains cannabis (and sometimes flavours). The liquid is heated into a vapour, which you inhale.

Similar to smoking, vaping allows cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the lungs. Vapes offer an advantage to those who want precise dosing. When vaping, one dose/inhale is typically considered to be 2.5mp, but this can differ based on product concentration.Vapes typically produce more mild effects than smoking.

The effects of both smoking and vaping are felt within 5-10 minutes and tend to last for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Microdosing

Microdosing isn’t a specific consumption method. It can be done with any of the methods listed above. Microdosing is when you intentionally take small – or micro – amounts of cannabis to realize its benefits, without a serious head-high. Microdosing can help increase focus and energy.

This is particularly popular with strains that contain THC.  Microdosing is less common with CBD-dominant strains since CBD doesn’t cause a head high to start.

Man Smoking a Joint

The Best Strains for Seniors

 

For Wellness: Pure Sun CBD

Chosen for its strong CBD potential (and less than 1% THC), Pure Sun CBD is a hand-selected phenotype of the Cannatonic strain. The dried flowers are tight and compact, featuring a mix of pale and jade green leaves dotted with a generous dusting of trichomes. The delicate aromas and flavours are reminiscent of fresh flowers (bisabolol), creamsicle and brown sugar (myrcene), and cardamom (guaiol).

As a CBD-dominant strain, it can give you all the therapeutic highlights without the high. CBD is known to help treat anxiety, reduce stress, relieve pain and inflammation, and promote mental focus and clarity. When it comes to sleep, CBD is believed to reduce sleepiness and boost energy during the day, promoting focus and alertness.  It isn’t believed to affect sleep-wake cycles.

For Pain & Inflammation: BLLRDR Afghani Bullrider

Afghani Bullrider rose to prominence in both the cannabis community (winning numerous awards and accolades from cannabis experts) and in pop culture through frequent shout-outs in songs by various multi-platinum, hip-hop musicians. However, it’s origin dates back to the early 2000’s as a highly sought-after strain, that made its rounds in California, but would soon disappear when Jeff migrated to British Columbia with his wife, and medicinal marijuana activist, Michelle Rainey. 

Along with being a cancer patient, Michelle suffered from Crohn’s disease and found relief of her symptoms within this special strain. She then dedicated her life to helping others gain medical access to the plant that did much to alter her life and daily function. Michelle sadly passed away from cancer on October 20, 2010 with the dying wish of making cannabis accessible to everyone, specifically the Afghani Bullrider. 

Large, green fluffy buds, with a noticeably high concentration of long amber pistols, present a flower that emits sweet & sour aroma’s with fruity notes.

The terpene profile is dominated by two terps – Myrcene and Farnesene – which lend to a consistent and predictable flavour profile from batch to batch.

For Sleep: BLLRDR Wedding Cake

Research has found that THC has sedative effects and can make falling asleep easier. The cerebral effects can be just what you need to slow your mind and drift off to sleep.

Preclinical studies suggest that it may also be able to treat sleep apnea, a condition that inhibits proper breathing at night.  A 2013 study noted improvements in 15 out of 17 study participants following 21 days of treatment.

Wedding Cake is a high THC strain that is also high in sleep-friendly terpenes – caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene. 

Cannabis Topical

The Best Topicals for Seniors

For Wellness:Apothecanna Body Cream 

This moisturizing body cream is loaded with the quality natural ingredients arnica, peppermint and juniper and contains a balanced amount of THC and CBD. Massage into the skin. Try refrigerating for an extra refreshing sensation after sun or physical activity. Avoid broken skin and sensitive areas. For topical use only. Trusted Apothecanna product with the goodness of 48North.

For Pain & Inflammation: Arnica CBD Cream

This product is infused with CBD cannabis extract and Arnica oil. It goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly. AXEA CO2-extracts the CBD cannabis flower to extract full-spectrum CBD Oil for each product. Enriched with menthol to provide a pleasant cooling sensation. Massage into skin on targeted areas. Avoid broken skin or sensitive areas. For topical use only.

For Sleep: Unplug 3:1 Lavender Cream

This moisturizing body cream features high levels of THC, with a smooth lavender scent. Unplug was created for the occasions when you’re unwinding after a long day, week, or year.

 

The Best Edibles for Seniors

For Wellness: CBD Softgels

Daily Special CBD Softgels are an affordable, ingestible cannabis extract encapsulated in an easy-to-swallow softgel made from our best-selling CBD-rich flower. An odourless and smoke-free alternative to dried flower, these softgels offer a discreet, long-lasting way to consume CBD–no accessories are required. 

Convenient and compact, each softgel contains full-spectrum cannabinoids and terpenes blended with coconut derived MCT oil. Effects may take longer than dried flower to kick in but are longer-lasting.

For Wellness: Apple Cider Vinegar Soft Chews

Dynathrive CBD soft chews are precisely dosed with 10mg of purified CBD isolate (THC-free) so you can enjoy a consistent experience every time.

They’re made with Canadian apple juice and nutrient dense apple cider vinegar for a taste like a delicious tart, juicy apple with a crisp finish.  Each soft chew contains 10 mg of CBD. They come in 30-packs, so you can treat each pack as a month’s supply.

For Sleep: Go Slumber CBN Shot 

Savour sweet dreams. As Field Trip’s flagship CBN beverage, GO: Slumber is a one-of-a-kind night time elixir that makes coming down at the end of your day easy. Formulated by expert chefs and infused with CBN (a sleep-friendly cannabinoid), THC, lavender, and chamomile. 

Your perfect nightcap — the same great feeling every time.

For Sleep: Aurora Drift – Grape Soft Chews (4-Pieces)

This is your grape escape. Unwind with Grape Oasis Indica Gummies by Aurora Drift. These fruity bite-sized gummies are infused with high quality cannabinoid extract from their best-selling indica strains. With 2.5 mg of THC per gummy, they’re a delicious addition to your bedtime ritual. Start by taking one gummy 30 minutes before bed.

For Pain & Inflammation: Veryvell Strawberry Hibiscus High CBD Sparkling Water Beverage

This lightly carbonated sparkling water has floral hints and subtle notes of strawberry. It also has 15mg of CBD and 0.5 mg of THC. This combination may make it help with inflammation or pain, however individual experiences may vary.

For Pain & Inflammation: Peach Serene CBD Gummies

Get a satisfying taste of serenity with Peach Serene CBD Gummies by Aurora Drift. These fruity bite-sized gummies are infused with high quality cannabinoid extract from their best-selling CBD strains. The resin is evenly distributed to provide consistency in every delicious bite (with minimal cannabis taste). Each shareable five-pack contains 50 mg of CBD overall. That’s 10 mg of CBD per gummy. Some users find they help with pain and inflammation, but individual results may vary.

 

Summary

Seniors are entering the cannabis space in droves. It’s not the same weed they may have been exposed to in their youth. Weed is more potent now, and the influx in research has made way for innovations that have extended its use.

Some seniors have reported cannabis use to help treat pain, inflammation, sleeplessness, and anxiety – among others. Medical marijuana is used to treat chronic or acute medical conditions. While recreational cannabis can be an excellent addition to an ongoing wellness routine for seniors, it’s important to speak to your doctor if you plan to use it as medicine.

Some conditions or medications don’t play well with cannabis, which is yet another reason to talk to your doc if you’re new to the cannabis space. 

If you don’t have any medical concerns, or have been given the green light by your doc, you can start by exploring the exciting world of cannabis capsules, soft gels, beverages, and topicals. 

Cannabis is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes, the most famous of which are CBD and THC. While THC is famous for its head high, CBD doesn’t have any cerebral effect. Both cannabinoids offer a wide range of wellness benefits. The goodness that comes from this plant never gets old.

Have more questions about cannabis for seniors?

Want to learn more about cannabis for seniors? Want to explore more topicals, capsules and edibles?

Our team of Budtenders is here to help. Come by for a visit, PM us on Instagram, or call us at 416-516-7250.

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