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Eighty percent of older Aussies could benefit from medicinal cannabis

What is medicinal cannabis and how could it help older Australians?

<p>Looking to reduce aches and pains is important for many older Australians, with many searching for alternatives to traditional medicine. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

Looking to reduce aches and pains is important for many older Australians, with many searching for alternatives to traditional medicine. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Researchers have identified that older people who used medicinal cannabis experienced multiple benefits as a ‘safe and effective treatment’
  • Some types of cannabis products include extracts and edibles such as infused gummies
  • Eligible Australians may consult with their doctor to discuss the benefit of a medicinal cannabis prescription to combat pain and mental health issues


Researchers have recently identified the positive impact of using cannabis for medicinal benefit in older people as a ‘safe and effective treatment’ during a six-month study.

Approximately 260,000 Australians used cannabis ‘exclusively for medical purposes’ last year, according to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Cannabis is the common name for the cannabis sativa plant, which is made into different products such as marijuana and hashish. Slang names for cannabis include pot, weed and 420. 

Different product types of cannabis used in the study included:

  • oral products e.g. extracts and edibles;
  • inhalation products e.g. flowers and vapes.

Researchers found that ‘most patients experienced clinically significant improvements in pain, sleep, and quality of life and reductions in co-medication.’

Researchers and officials from Tilray Medical engaged approximately 300 people aged 50 years and over in this study. The average age of participants was 66 years.

Tilray Medical is a global leader in medical cannabis and collaborated with researchers to identify the impact of medicinal cannabis on older people.

Approximately 90 percent of participants used medicinal cannabis to manage pain-related conditions including arthritis and chronic pain in the study. 

Eighty percent of older Australians live with at least one chronic health condition according to recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Medical Director of Tilray Medical José Tempero highlighted how researching the impact of medical cannabis use in older people could improve lives.

“Our involvement in this initiative underscores our unwavering commitment to advancing medical research and highlights our dedication to providing products that support the findings of the comprehensive research,” he said.

“[It will] bring us one step closer to unlocking the full therapeutic potential of medical cannabis, especially reinforcing its role as a treatment option for an aging population.”

The South Australian Government is firm on restricted cannabis use as ‘it is illegal to keep, use, grow, sell or give away cannabis, cannabis oil or cannabis resin,’ as is the case in other states and territories. 

However, many older Australians who use illicit drugs have cannabis as their drug of choice, according to the Drug and Alcohol Foundation

Although some researchers indicate the benefit of medicinal cannabis, side effects can include rapid heart rate, nausea, memory problems and paranoia. 

Concerns were raised recently as the legalisation of cannabis occurred in other countries. Researchers identified that this was ‘associated with increased rates of emergency department visits for cannabis poisoning in older adults.’

However, other researchers suggested that for some people, using medicinal cannabis under the supervision of a healthcare professional could increase a person’s quality of life at a cheaper cost compared to traditional pharmaceutical medications. 

With this type of pain management seeming to be lower cost, this could influence more older people to use medicinal cannabis. 

Although using cannabis is illegal in Australia, medicinal cannabis is exempt as it falls under a different category.

Eligible Australians can access medicinal cannabis through registered medical doctors after approval from their state’s health department and the Therapeutic Goods Administration

The TGA is the organisation that regulates ‘therapeutic goods including prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products’ in Australia.

As legal requirements for cannabis product prescriptions may vary between states, have a chat with your local doctor about your eligibility. 

In addition to this study, other organisations are looking to identify other possible positive impacts of medicinal cannabis on Australians.

The University of New South Wales is associated with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics and has an online portal where Australians can register their interest to participate in future medicinal cannabis trials. 


Would you consider using medical cannabis to manage chronic pain or other health concerns?

Let the team at Talking Aged Care know on social media. 

For more information and news in the aged care industry, subscribe to our free newsletter. 


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