A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined trends in marijuana related emergency department (ED) visits among older adults ages 65 and older in California between 2005 and 2019. The researchers found that marijuana related ED visits among older adults increased over 1,800% during this period, from 366 visits in 2005 to 12,167 visits in 2019. When examined by subgroup such as age, race/ethnicity, sex, insurance status, and comorbidity score, they found that all subgroups experienced dramatic increases in marijuana related ED visits. All subgroups experienced anywhere from a 900 to over 4,000 percent relative increase in marijuana related ED visits over this period.
The highest rates in 2019 occurred among:
- Adults ages 65-74 compared to the other age groups (adults aged 75-84 and adults aged 85 and older),
- Older Black adults compared to older adults of other race/ethnicity,
- Older male adults compared to female older adults,
- Older adults without health insurance compared to older adults with health insurance, and
- Older adults with more comorbidities.
As the authors highlight, this is highly concerning as older adults are at higher risk of the adverse effects of marijuana use due to aging, medication, and comorbidities and therefore, older adults should be educated on the harms and screened for marijuana use.
Han, B. H., Brennan, J. J., Orozco, M. A., Moore, A. A., Castillo, E. M. (2023). Trends in emergency department visits associated with cannabis use among older adults in California, 2005-2019. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. DOI: 10.1111/jgs.18180