WOODLAND (CBS13) — Cannabis use in California is now piquing the interest of senior citizens. Some cannabis experts say it's a safer alternative to treat conditions and diseases as we age.
"Now you have the opportunity to choose not only the way in which you want to ingest it but also the effects that you want," said Danny Kress, a dispensary manager with A Therapeutic Alternative.
Seniors gathered in Woodland on Wednesday for a Yolo County-sponsored crash course all about the different ways to use cannabis. It's a growing industry that's catching the attention of more and more Californians, including senior citizens.
"I never understood why it's described as stoned," said Carl Klein. "It makes me feel very fluid, it always has!"
"There may be a lot of uses for it that I don't know anything about," said Rita Kritch.
According to a Yahoo News/Marist poll, 52% of marijuana users are millennials. But the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the number of marijuana users over the age of 65 rose 250 percent between 2006 and 2013.
"I just think it opens everybody up!" Klein said.
And now that recreational and medical marijuana are legal in the Golden state, Dispensary Manager Danny Kress said he's focused on helping seniors make sense of how to use it.
"As availability of cannabis medicine increases, we want to do our best to limit any negative effects someone might have by just simply not getting the education that might be required," he told CBS13.
At a Yolo County sponsored event, Kress explained to the group of seniors the difference between cannabinoids THC and CBD. THC is the part that causes euphoria and CBD is the non-intoxicating part used to treat seizures, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
"Most are coming in for sleep or pain or inflammation or something like that," Kress said.
But the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington has concerns. Their research shows habitual marijuana smoking linked to chronic bronchitis. And that cannabis use can affect heart rate and blood flow to the heart.
"I'm a 60-year user, I've had actually no ill effects!" Klein said.
Still, Kress said marijuana is a safer alternative to opioids, which can be addictive.
"Always suggest starting off very, very slow, start with things like topicals, tincture," Kress said. "Generally start with very high CBD, lower THC."
If you're still on the fence, the best thing seniors can do is to take your questions to your doctor or a well-researched dispensary.
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