Cautions for Older Coloradans on Marijuana Edibles

With medical marijuana allowed in close to 40 states and recreational use legal in a couple dozen so far, cannabis use by adults age 50-plus is growing. AARP estimates 16 million older adults partake as of 2024, up from about 13 million in 2021. This population of users is also leading a trend that sees marijuana preference shifting from smoking pot to consuming edible gummies. Reasons being that gummies are easier to use, are more discreet to use, and they avoid the risk of how inhaled products might affect one’s lungs. This has raised a question of whether gummies are a “safer” marijuana option. The answer is it depends on how one consumes them. One risk seems to be that because of their ease of use, edibles tend to be over-used. They taste good, and a person may pop more than one at a time, not realizing their full effects might not be felt for two to three hours. A study reported in 2023 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society identified a dramatic increase from 2005 to 2019 in cannabis-related trips to emergency rooms in California among those age 65 and older. A Colorado substance abuse task force similarly found that trends in marijuana use and/or abuse over an 8-year span as measured by needed “treatment admissions” for medical care showed usage having doubled in the 55-64 age group in our state and quadrupled in the age 65+ group. Colorado’s state website devoted to cannabis (see https://cannabis.colorado.gov/responsible-use/safety-with-edibles) says cannabis can affect people differently, so if you aren’t sure how marijuana will affect you, ingest less than one serving (10 mg of THC) and wait at least 90 minutes and up to four hours before consuming more. (THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. 10 mg is the maximum legal amount allowed in an edible in Colorado.) Also be aware that a single 10 mg serving will likely affect your ability to drive, bike, or do other activities, especially for occasional consumers.

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