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A study investigated 2,322 emergency room visits for cannabis poisoning among individuals aged 65 and older in Ontario from 2015 to 2022. The study aimed to analyze the impact of cannabis legalization on poisoning cases. The number of emergency room visits related to cannabis poisoning increased from 55 in 2015 to 462 in 2021, and then slightly decreased to 404 in 2022. The lead researcher, Dr. Stall, was inspired to conduct the study after encountering an elderly patient experiencing confusion and stroke-like symptoms due to ingesting edible cannabis mistakenly.

The study did not delve into the reasons behind seniors overdosing on cannabis. However, Dr. Stall observed cases of accidental ingestion as well as intentional use of edibles for recreational or medicinal purposes among seniors. Several factors may contribute to senior citizens overdosing, including the increased potency of cannabis strains, leading to underestimation of THC concentrations by those who used the drug previously. Additionally, seniors metabolize cannabis differently from younger individuals and may take other medications that can interact poorly with cannabis, exacerbating confusion or falling risks in some cases.

Dr. Stall emphasized the need to store edibles securely in locked locations and clearly labeled packaging to prevent unintentional exposure among seniors. He also suggested the development of senior-specific dosing guidelines for cannabis as well as public education campaigns highlighting the conditions and circumstances that can put older adults at risk with cannabis use. Seniors experimenting with cannabis for the first time are advised to adopt a cautious approach by starting with a low dosage and gradually increasing it, following the geriatric medicine mantra of “start low and go slow.”

In addressing the rising trend of cannabis poisoning among older adults, Dr. Stall stressed the importance of proactive measures such as secure storage of edibles and age-appropriate dosing guidelines. By spreading awareness about the risks and implications of cannabis use for seniors, policymakers can help reduce unintentional poisonings and adverse outcomes in this demographic. Encouraging a cautious approach to cannabis consumption among older adults, including considering potential side effects and drug interactions, is vital in safeguarding their well-being and preventing harmful incidents.

The study’s findings provide valuable insights into the increasing incidence of cannabis poisoning among seniors and the need to implement preventive measures to mitigate associated risks. By promoting safe practices and informed decision-making around cannabis use, healthcare professionals and policymakers can support the well-being of older adults and reduce the likelihood of adverse outcomes related to accidental ingestion or misuse of cannabis products. Further research and public health initiatives focusing on educating seniors about responsible cannabis consumption are essential in addressing this emerging public health concern.

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