top of page

Prescribed Medical Cannabis Use Among Older Individuals: Patient Characteristics and Improvements in Well‑Being: Findings from T21

Someone holding a cannabis plant in their hand


Michael T Lynskey, Hannah Thurgur, Alkyoni Athanasiou‑Fragkouli, Anne K. Schlag and David J. Nutt


June 17, 2024



Previous research has suggested that the use of cannabis-based medicinal products is increasing most rapidly among older aged individuals (65+ years). Despite this, little is known about the characteristics of older people using cannabis-based medicinal products and their effectiveness.



We aimed to document the characteristics, outcomes and prescribing patterns of individuals aged 65+ years receiving prescribed cannabis compared to younger individuals receiving prescribed cannabis.



Data from T21, an observational study of patients seeking treatment with medicinal cannabinoids, including self-report ratings of quality of life (assessed via the EQ-5D-5L), general health (assessed via the visual analogue scale of the EQ-5D-5L), mood (assessed via the Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and sleep (assessed using four items derived from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were available at treatment entry [n = 4228; 198 (4.7%) 65+ years] and at a 3-month follow-up [n = 2455; 98 (4.2%) = 65+ years].



Relative to younger individuals, those aged over 64 years were more likely to be female (52.5% vs 47.0%; p < 0.001), more likely to report pain as their primary condition (76.3% vs 45.6%; p < 0.001) and less likely to report current daily use (20.2% vs 60.3%, p < 0.001). They received fewer cannabis-based medicinal products (mean = 1.4 vs 2.1; F(1,2199) = 32.3, p < 0.001) and were more likely to receive a prescription for a cannabidiol dominant oil (17.5% vs 5.7%; p < 0.001) and less likely to receive a prescription for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol dominant flower (32.5% vs 75.2%; p < 0.001). There were significant improvements across all measures of well-being (p < 0.001), but the extent of improvements in sleep were more marked in younger individuals (p < 0.001).



There are important differences between individuals aged 65+ years and younger individuals receiving cannabis-based medicinal products. Older aged individuals experience considerable improvement in health and well-being when prescribed cannabis-based medicinal products.

To access the full publication, please see below:

Keep up with developments in drug science

Reading, engaging with, and sharing our publications, papers and commentary gives evidence-based science and policy the audience it needs and deserves.

bottom of page