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2017 to 2022 Saw Rise in Cannabis-Related Disorder Encounters in Seniors

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Greatest rates seen in states or territories with both adult and medical use legalization

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 18, 2024 (HealthDay News) — From 2017 to 2022, there was an increase in the rates of cannabis-related disorder encounters among U.S. Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older, according to a research letter published online June 18 in JAMA Network Open.

Silvia Perez-Vilar, Ph.D., Pharm.D., from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland, and colleagues characterized trends in health care encounters with cannabis-related disorders among Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older by state or territory cannabis legal status in a cross-sectional study. The eligible population included 55,941,880 unique beneficiaries.

The researchers found that from 2017 through 2022, there was an increase in the rates of health care encounters with cannabis-related disorders, regardless of state or territory cannabis legal status. The greatest rates were seen in states or territories with both adult and medical use legalization, followed by states or territories with medical legalization, and states or territories where cannabis use was illegal (45.4, 41.5, and 27.7 per 10,000 beneficiaries, respectively, in 2022). Across all legalization categories, the greatest increasing trends were seen in nonemergency department outpatient settings.

“Data suggest that increasing rates of health care encounters documenting cannabis-related disorders among older adults might be associated with the type of cannabis legalization,” the authors write. “However, differences in cannabis use patterns and perception of risk may influence policy changes and present challenges to causal inference.”

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