The State of Medical Use of Cannabidiol in Older Adults in 2023

Your 1+1 Team
June 27, 2023

Explore the current landscape of medical use of cannabidiol (CBD) in older adults. Learn about the increasing popularity, legal challenges, safety concerns, and potential benefits of CBD for older adults seeking alternative therapies.

In the GSA Policy Profile podcast titled “The State of Medical Use of Cannabidiol in Older Adults in 2023,” experts in the field discuss the current landscape of cannabidiol (CBD) use among older adults in the United States. The podcast highlights the increasing popularity of CBD among seniors, explores the different terms related to cannabis, addresses the legal status and regulatory challenges surrounding CBD, and examines the adverse effects and safety concerns associated with CBD products.

Understanding CBD and Related Terms

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, CBD does not produce a “high” and is derived from hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC.

Hemp is a variety of cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa). One key characteristic of hemp is its low THC content. In hemp plants, the THC concentration is typically less than 0.3%, which is significantly lower than the levels found in marijuana. As a result, hemp does not have the same psychoactive effects as marijuana.

Marijuana is a cannabis plant variety known for its higher THC content. Unlike hemp, marijuana is cultivated for recreational and/or medicinal purposes, and its legal status varies worldwide.

Legal Status and Regulatory Challenges

The podcast delves into the legal status of CBD and cannabinoids in foods and supplements. While the FDA acknowledges consumer interest in CBD products, it maintains that CBD cannot be marketed in food or dietary supplement formulations. The FDA has approved CBD as a prescription drug, but its use in other forms requires a new regulatory pathway. This creates confusion for both consumers and healthcare professionals. The Collaborative for Cannabinoid Science and Safety and other organizations have called for clearer labeling, concentration limits, and a change in scheduling to facilitate more research on CBD’s safety and efficacy.

Adverse Effects and Safety Concerns

The podcast also highlights adverse effects and safety concerns associated with CBD use specifically among older adults. Increased emergency department visits in California and a rise in calls to poison control centers nationwide indicate potential risks. Reported symptoms include insomnia, diarrhea, rash, vomiting, and infections. CBD can also interact with medications and impact liver function which poses higher risks for older adults who often take multiple medications.

The lack of proper regulation and inconsistent product labeling contribute to safety concerns. Studies have found significant inconsistencies between stated and actual CBD levels in products, and some products that contain undisclosed THC. The emergence of an unregulated market triggers these issues such as with companies making unsupported claims about CBD’s health benefits.

By fostering research, implementing clearer labeling standards, and establishing appropriate concentration limits, it is possible to navigate the complexities of CBD use and promote evidence-based policies that benefit older adults seeking alternative therapies.

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