Last updated: November 27, 2023
The answer to that is yes according to the statistics printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association. We’ll note, too, that the numbers we saw are three years old, published back in 2020. As more states embrace the legalization of recreational marijuana, it’s hard not to imagine that an increasing number of senior citizens are testing positive for marijuana nationwide.
All other types of drug use have gone up, so—
Further proving the case, a report published in March 2022 states overall, marijuana positivity has increased by double digits between the years of 2017 and 2021. In fact, it tallied in at a 15% increase. And, as a point of interest, the largest increase was within the Accommodation and Food Service Industry. The positivity level spiked an increase of 114.3% over the past five years alone.
We can’t help but wonder if the increase is due to more employees picking up the habit. It could be though that a growing number of business owners in the industry are deciding to put drug-free programs in place. All it takes to get the ball rolling is a quick “drug testing near me” search.
Popping positive isn’t the only downside
Having THC in your system when you take a drug test is bad enough. However, senior citizens are suffering another consequence too. Marijuana-related emergency room (ER) visits are on the rise. You may have seen the recent headline having to do with California, however, the increase isn’t limited to that state alone.
In fact, in a report released by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) in January 2023 between the years of 2005 and 2019:
The cannabis-related ED (emergency department) visit rate increased significantly for asults aged 65+ and all subgroups (p<0.001). The overall rate increased from 20.7 per 100,000 visits in 2005 to 395.0 per 100,ooo ED visits in 2019, a 1804% relative increase.
The report broke the numbers down even further stating that older black adults, overall, had the highest number of emergency department visits in 2019.
More recently, a news report coming out of Kansas City, Missouri—one of the states to most recently legalize recreational marijuana use—shows an uptick in senior ER visits within the state since public sales began earlier this year.
Some of the contributing factors, in addition to being high, were:
- Eating too many edibles
We didn’t find it written down anywhere, but wonder if some of the ER visits were due to an increased level of anxiety as well. A panic attack, brought on by the body being affected more strongly than expected, could warrant a trip to the ER.
It’s not what they remember
As we see it, there are two major contributing factors that account for both the increase in positivity rates and ER visits. One is the fact that the potency of pot has increased exponentially over the years. That statement is even more pronounced since legalization began because growers know that potency levels heavily affect their profit margin. It stands to reason that someone who is now “free” to light up is going to be affected differently than they were when they “copped a buzz” decades ago.
And, two, drug tests have evolved. Back in the day, downing a goodly portion of water most always insured a negative drug test result. Nowadays, that doesn’t fly. Drug tests detect that and a dilute result could cost someone their job as quickly as a full-fledged positive one can. It all depends on the wording in the company’s drug-free policies and procedures.
Drugs mess with your mind
There’s no place for marijuana in the workplace—legalization makes no change in that fact. Marijuana use impairs the mind. It slows the thought process. That means slower reaction times, both, physically and mentally—which could lead to a serious accident.
Whether or not, you’re a seasoned senior when it comes to marijuana use, there’s no doubt that the ever-increasing levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affect the brain and body differently than the marijuana of old. It’s the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.
Let’s make sure our seniors know that fact.
There has never been a report of an overdose of THC causing a life-threatening event. However, there’s never been THC levels upwards of 30% found in pot plants before either. There is little room for argument that further research should be done on the effects of THC on the human body.
By the way, senior citizens aren’t the only ones heading to the ER because they ingested high levels of THC. Teens are showing up too—actually, the study was between 12 and 65-year-olds. And, in all fairness, it was done using 30,000 subjects from Ontario, Canada. We have no doubt, however, that marijuana is affecting American citizens in the same ways.
We’re all human after all.