Medical marijuana might help boost the well-being and working potential of older adults, according to experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Temple University.
Researchers found a reduction of pain and an increase in work hours in adults over the age of 51 who use cannabis, according to a study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
The study analyzed data from a 1992-2012 Health and Retirement Study, which surveyed more than 100,000 adults age 51 and older.
The researchers determined that patients living in medical marijuana states experienced a 4.8 percent decrease in reporting pain stemming from conditions that normally qualify for cannabis treatment (cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, and pain), compared to states without legal access.
“While several studies point to improved pain control with medical marijuana, research has largely ignored older adults even though they experience the highest rates of medical issues that could be treated with medical marijuana,” Lauren Hersch Nicholas, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, said in a news release.
The results also found that people who qualified for medical marijuana showed an increase in full-time work by 7.3 percent, compared to 5 percent among those who didn’t.
These conclusions might even be a bit modest, as 20 states had medical marijuana laws in place at the time of the analysis. Currently 33 states and Washington, D.C. allow citizens to legally access medical cannabis.
“These findings underscore the close relationship between health policy and labor supply within older adults,” Nicholas added. “When we’re doing policy evaluations, we have to think not only about whether the policy is changing health outcomes, but also whether it does it in a way that supports labor force participation.”
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