February 28, 2024 8 min read

Cannabis edibles offer a convenient and discreet way to consume cannabis, and they may help seniors in managing a range of ailments that become more common as we age. The question is–are edibles safe for seniors?

In general, yes, edibles can be a useful dosing method for seniors hoping to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Still, their potency and delayed onset effects can pose additional risks for older adults. 

Understanding how to use edibles safely is crucial for seniors who are considering incorporating them into their wellness routine. Here’s what you should know:

Table of Contents
Why Edibles?
Safety Considerations for Seniors
Tips for Using Edibles Safely
Conclusion
Where to Buy

Key Takeaways

  • Edibles may offer many of the same benefits as traditional cannabis products, but with fewer risks to the lungs and throat.
  • Seniors may be at increased risk for some side effects, like memory impairment and medication interactions. 
  • Overall, many seniors can safely enjoy edibles and their many therapeutic benefits with their doctor's guidance. 

Why Edibles?

As cannabis becomes more widely accepted, many seniors are exploring its potential benefits, including pain relief, improved sleep, and anxiety reduction.

A cannabis joint and three cannabis-infused lollipops to show an example of edible vs smoking product types

Among the various consumption methods, edibles stand out for their discretion and ease of use, making them an appealing option for seniors new to cannabis. Many seniors prefer edibles over smoking because they don’t put stress on the lungs. 

Benefits of Edibles

Edibles offer several potential health benefits, ranging from pain relief to neuroprotection:

  • Pain Relief:Edibles may provide longer-lasting pain relief compared to smoking, making them an attractive option for seniors who use cannabis to manage chronic pain. Research has found that cannabis may provide analgesic effects that help to manage different types of pain, including neuropathic pain, and may reduce dependence on opioids. 
  • Insomnia: While research on cannabis and sleep is still evolving, many users report improved sleep quality with cannabis edibles, making them a potential option for seniors struggling with insomnia. In fact, research has found that cannabis may be beneficial for managing a wide range of sleep disorders.

  • Neuroprotective Properties:Some studies suggest that cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as THC and CBD, may have neuroprotective effects, which could be beneficial for conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's disease. One study suggests that a combination of CBD and THC may be more effective at treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease than either cannabinoid on its own.

  • Anti-Anxiety: While THC can induce anxiety at higher doses, some research suggests that lower doses may have anti-anxiety effects. Seniors seeking anxiety relief may benefit from edibles containing higher levels of CBD, which offer similar benefits without the psychoactive effects of THC.

  • Fewer potential side effects: While edibles still share many of the same effects and side effects of other dosing methods, they are less likely than inhalation methods to cause lung or throat related issues, coughing, wheezing, or exacerbation of asthma, COPD or related issues. For seniors with lung or throat-related concerns, this may be a benefit, which is why many seniors prefer edibles over smoking

A colorful arrangement of cannabis leaf-shaped gummies


Safety Considerations for Seniors Using Edibles

As you can see, there are many reasons why seniors may take interest in edibles, especially if they are medical marijuana patients who already benefit from other forms of cannabis. Still, as we age, we need to take more precaution against cannabis side effects. 

Let’s take a look at some safety precautions seniors can take when using edibles:

1. Edibles May Have Stronger Effects

Edibles may produce stronger effects than other cannabis products due to the way they are metabolized. In the gut, Delta-9-THC is transformed into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is known for producing more potent psychoactive reactions. For this reason, THC edibles often produce stronger effects than inhalation methods, even at the same dosages. 

According to the most current research on medicinal cannabis dosing, seniors should begin with a low dose of THC, typically around 2.5mg to 5mg, and wait at least two hours before considering additional doses. This approach helps minimize the risk of overconsumption and allows individuals to gauge their sensitivity to cannabis.

2. Consider Cardiovascular Health

While research on the effects of cannabis on cardiovascular health is limited, seniors with concerns about their heart health should opt for low doses and CBD-rich strains, which may help mitigate potential risks.

3. Cannabis May Cause Dry Mouth

Cannabis often leads to dry mouth, once thought to be a side effect of dehydration. Now, though, we know that there is no evidence that cannabis causes dehydration. Instead, cannabis causes the salivary glands to temporarily stop producing saliva, leading to dry mouth and increased thirst. This, on its own, is not an issue, but it may worsen any dry mouth symptoms related to other medications, so it’s something to consider. 

4. Cannabis May Interact With Medications

Cannabis has the potential to interact with various medications commonly used by seniors, which can impact their health and well-being. These medications include (but are not limited to):

  • Pain medications:Seniors often rely on pain medications to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis or neuropathy. Cannabis can interact with these medications, potentially amplifying their effects or causing adverse reactions.
  • Heart medications and blood thinners:Many seniors take medications to manage heart conditions or prevent blood clots. Cannabis may interact with these medications, affecting blood pressure and increasing the risk of bleeding.
  • Sleeping pills: Seniors experiencing sleep disturbances may use sleeping pills to improve sleep quality. However, cannabis can interact with these medications, leading to excessive drowsiness or other sleep-related issues.
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications: Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are prevalent among seniors, and they often rely on medications to manage symptoms. Cannabis may interact with these medications, altering mood or exacerbating mental health symptoms.
  • Antibiotic and antifungal medications: Seniors may require antibiotics or antifungal medications to treat infections. Cannabis can interact with these medications, potentially reducing their effectiveness or causing adverse effects.
  • Heartburn medications: Seniors with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may use heartburn medications to manage symptoms. Cannabis may interact with these medications, affecting digestion or exacerbating heartburn.
  • Anti-seizure medications: Seniors with epilepsy or other seizure disorders may rely on anti-seizure medications to prevent seizures. Cannabis can interact with these medications, potentially altering seizure control or causing adverse effects.
  • Drugs to treat HIV/AIDS: Seniors living with HIV/AIDS may take medications to manage the condition and prevent complications. Cannabis may interact with these medications, affecting their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions.

Understanding the potential interactions between cannabis and these medications is crucial for seniors to avoid adverse effects and ensure the safe and effective management of their health conditions. It's essential for seniors to consult with their healthcare providers before incorporating cannabis into their wellness routine, especially if they are taking any of these medications.

5. Cannabis Has Other Potential Side Effects

While many people enjoy cannabis with no adverse reaction and even benefit greatly from its therapeutic effects, it is possible to experience side effects. Seniors may be at a greater risk for experiencing some of these side effects, especially:

  • Increased risk of psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Worsened anxiety and/or depression
  • Decreased memory, concentration, or ability to make decisions. 

Tips for Using Edibles Safely

A cannabis-infused cookie arranged with a fresh cannabis leaf on a yellow background

1. Read Labels Carefully

Edibles come in various forms, including chocolates, gummies, baked goods, and beverages. Seniors should carefully read the labels to understand the potency of the product and the recommended serving size. 

Some products may be labeled to show the total THC content per serving, while others will show the total THC content for the entire package. For instance, a chocolate bar that's divided into 10 servings and contains 300 milligrams of THC total will offer 30 milligrams of THC per piece. 

2. Start with Low Doses

If it’s your first time using cannabis edibles or you are inexperienced with cannabis in general, you should definitely start with a low dose. Edibles produce stronger effects than other dosing methods. 

You may also consider looking at the dosage advantages of different edible products, like tinctures vs gummies. Tinctures may allow you more precise control over your dosage. 

3. Have a Trip Sitter

Seniors who haven't used cannabis may benefit from having a sober “trip sitter.” around during their first experience. A trip sitter is a person who can help provide assistance and peace of mind in certain situations, such as feeling anxious Or experiencing discomfort. 

4. Stay Hydrated and Have Healthy Snacks

Cannabis may cause dry mouth and increased hunger, so having plenty of water and healthy, enjoyable snacks is a must. Many mild side effects related to cannabis may stem from dehydration, so making sure to stay hydrated can help ensure a positive experience. Plus, taking edibles on an empty stomach may potentiate their effects, so have a snack with your dose. 

5. Purchase from Reputable Sources

Cannabis regulations vary widely from state to state, so it's important to ensure that products are purchased from high quality sources. Cannabis edibles purchased from a state licensed dispensary will have third party tested approval. 

Hemp edibles purchased online, like Delta-8-THC edibles, should come from an experienced manufacturer that uses third-party testing to ensure label accuracy and that the products are free from contamination.

6. Consider CBD-Dominant or Hemp-THC Products

Seniors who are more sensitive to the psychoactive effects of THC may prefer CBD (cannabidiol)-dominant edibles. CBD is non-intoxicating and is believed to have potential therapeutic benefits such as pain relief, anxiety reduction, and improved sleep quality.

CBD-dominant edibles provide the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the euphoria associated with THC. Products that contain both THC and CBD may provide more balanced effects with milder psychoactivity. 

Alternatively, some hemp THC products produce milder effects than traditional cannabis. For instance, Delta-8 is widely regarded for its therapeutic effects, but is only half as potent as Delta-9-THC. 

To learn more, you may want to read:

7. Store Edibles Safely

Cannabis edibles often look like regular candies, cookies, or snacks, which can be misleading for unsuspecting people. Keep cannabis edibles out of reach of children and pets and store them in a secure location. 

Seniors should be mindful of proper storage to prevent accidental ingestion and ensure the longevity of the product. Because edibles are food products, they may spoil quickly when not stored properly.

8. Consult with a Healthcare Professional

Before incorporating cannabis edibles into their wellness regimen, seniors should consult with a healthcare professional, especially if they have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications that may interact with cannabis. A healthcare provider can offer personalized guidance and recommendations based on individual health needs.

Conclusion: Are Edibles Safe for Seniors? 

Cannabis edibles can offer a safe therapeutic avenue for seniors when used under a doctor's guidance. Like all cannabis products, using edibles safely requires careful consideration of dosage, potency, product quality, and individual tolerance. 

Starting with a low dose, reading labels attentively, and practicing patience are essential steps to mitigate risks and enjoy the potential benefits of edibles responsibly. By following these guidelines and consulting with healthcare professionals when needed, seniors can incorporate cannabis edibles into their wellness routine safely and effectively.

Check Out Hemp Edibles–THC and CBD Available Online

At Vida Optima, our therapeutic hemp collection includes CBD, CBD, and hemp-derived THC products–all farm bill compliant and easy to order online.  Our Vitality CBD Collection utilizes full-spectrum CBD made from premium, organically grown hemp and is 100% Farm Bill compliant. 

Or, check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections for a variety of mild-to-moderately doses hemp-THC products. Choose from our tantalizing collection of sublingual edibles, gummies, topicals, tinctures, and more–reaping the benefits of hemp has never been easier. 

Vida Optima Elev8 Delta-8-THC Gummies

Resources

  1. “An experimental randomized study on the analgesic effects of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia” https://journals.lww.com/pain/fulltext/2019/04000/an_experimental_randomized_study_on_the_analgesic.11.aspx
  2. “Medicinal Cannabis for Treatment of Chronic Pain” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK574562/
  3. “Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: Retrospective chart review” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9067069/
  4. “A Review on Studies of Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease – Focusing on CBD, THC” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6970569/
  5. “Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33228239/
  6. “Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29307505/ 
  7. “The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana: Are the Potential Adverse Effects Worth the High?” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6461323/ 



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