Legal marijuana has meant a boost for government accountants, and ended the need for fake "medical" marijuana claims, but it is often still dangerous in both the short and long term.

A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society used a trend analysis of data from the Department of Healthcare Access and Information and found a 1,808% relative increase in the rate of cannabis-related trips to the emergency department among California adults ages 65 and older from 2005 to 2019. In absolute terms cannabis-related emergency department visits went from just 366 in 2005 to 12,167 in 2019. That needs some context. Though incidents did rise shortly during most of that time, it did not spike higher after recreational legalization.

This worries physicians because older adults are at a higher risk for adverse health effects associated with psychoactive substances. Older adults who have long used marijuana may believe it helps with some chronic issues (and for some it may) but they also regard it as less harmful than prescription medication, which is untrue.

“I do see a lot of older adults who are overly confident, saying they know how to handle it," said Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, the study’s first author and a geriatrician at UC San Diego School of Medicine, "yet as they have gotten older, their bodies are more sensitive, and the concentrations are very different from what they may have tried when they were younger."

There is limited evidence that compounds in marijuana are helpful for any conditions, but the use of cannabis products by older adults has increased sharply over the past two decades in the United States with the legalization for medical and recreational purposes in many states. California legalized "medical" marijuana in 1996 and made it legal without any hurldes in 2016. older adults are increasingly using the plant-based drug to treat a wide range of symptoms and using it socially — while their perceived risk of regular use is decreasing.

The study highlights that cannabis use among older adults can lead to unintended consequences that require emergency care for a variety of reasons. Cannabis can slow reaction time and impair attention, which may lead to injuries and falls; increase the risk for psychosis, delirium and paranoia; exacerbate cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and interact with other prescription medications, no differently than alcohol.

Yet driving while high has increased a lot while drunk driving has decreased.