21% Of Medicare Recipients Are Shopping For Medical Marijuana

Whether they have been consuming cannabis since the 1970s or they have never touched the plant before, a significant and growing number of seniors across the country are heading to dispensaries today. While GenZ is getting all of the marketing buzz, Baby Boomers still make up the largest generational portion of the U.S. population, and the elder population is only expected to grow with increased access to modern healthcare. Astute cannabis brands are capitalizing on this group of consumers, designing their products, promotions, and retail strategies to accommodate the needs of older customers. 

A recent report published by the Medicare Plans Patient Resource Center found a majority of Medicare recipients support legalized cannabis, demonstrate a consistent interest in their holistic wellness, and believe in the medicinal powers of the plant. With the right information and opportunities, the elder population has the potential to carve out a dominant position in the cannabis market. The businesses that can establish long-lasting, positive relationships with seniors today will gain an invaluable competitive edge in the future.

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Graph: Medicare Plans Patient Resource Center

The wellness market

While medical marijuana is well-known for the physical relief it provides people with chronic and terminal conditions, its therapeutic uses extend far beyond pain mitigation. Both medical card carriers and health-conscious recreational consumers are using cannabis for its wellness benefits. Over the past few years, the global wellness economy has expanded nearly five times as fast as global economic growth. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cannabis consumption among seniors increased by 75 percent between 2015 and 2020. Most of these elders seek out cannabis for wellness purposes, like the alleviation of pain, insomnia, and anxiety. For many in this generation, Cannabis offers an appealing alternative to pharmaceuticals, allowing older people to treat multiple conditions and symptoms without the negative and unwanted side effects that come with many traditional pharmaceutical medications.

Trends in elder cannabis consumption 

Of the 62.6 million people receiving Medicare in the United States, more than 12.5 million (21 percent) report current cannabis use for therapeutic purposes. This data accounts for only non-institutionalized Medicare recipients, meaning another 1.5 million people in nursing homes have not been surveyed on their cannabis consumption. While it is incredibly encouraging to see the continual growth of seniors accessing cannabis, it poses some big questions for the industry. Because cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I substance, FDA-approved health insurance does not pay for medical marijuana.

Elders are clearly embracing medical cannabis, but its affordability could affect their consumption rates. The Medicare Plans Patient Resource Center’s report revealed conflicting public opinions about the future of medical cannabis. When asked if cannabis should be included under Medicare coverage, respondents expressed diametric viewpoints. Almost 40 percent of Medicare recipients who use medical cannabis said no because they fear it will increase the price. Conversely, around 70 percent of seniors who had never used medical cannabis want it covered because it can be effective when other treatments fail. 

In Minnesota, a state with only medicinal legalization on the books, the average 30-day supply of cannabis costs over $300. For some this is affordable, and for others, it’s detrimentally expensive. No one can definitively say whether cannabis prices would increase if insurance companies got involved, but historical cases of prescription drug price gouging give Medicare recipients reasonable cause for concern.  

Elders also have different preferences when it comes to cannabis consumption. Flower products still make up over half of Baby Boomer’s purchases, but that percentage is declining. Topicals have seen the fastest market share growth among seniors, which may be attributed to the appeal of a smokeless consumption option and the need for targeted relief. Vapor pens, edibles, and infused beverages have also seen substantial growth in popularity among the elder population. While all consumer groups have diversified their product preferences as new options hit the shelves, it is important to consider the specific demands induced by the growing senior population.

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Bud and Bloom

Despite the evolving regulation and refinement of medical cannabis, retirement communities and dispensaries are already working together to make cannabis more accessible for residents. In Orange County, California, Bud and Bloom sends a weekly free shuttle to and from Laguna Woods Village retirement community that’s home to 18,500 residents. Retirees board the bus for a variety of reasons: some seek a new form of relief, some are repeat customers, and some visit the dispensary for education on cannabis products. This is a vital service for the elder community, as well as a profitable practice. According to the brand’s vice president of retail, roughly 30 percent of Bud and Bloom’s customers are 55 and older.

Serving seniors 

Bud and Bloom is not the only cannabis brand strategically interacting with the senior population. Brands of all sizes are prioritizing the older consumer in their operations. Individuals over 50 are the fastest-growing group of cannabis consumers in the United States. Older customers often enter a dispensary with less knowledge of products and an array of questions. Businesses can fine-tune their product selection to provide senior-friendly options and make their dispensaries an inviting space for people of all generations. 

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Image courtesy of Trulieve.

In Florida, a state with legalized medical cannabis and a large senior population, Trulieve offers free consultations for folks who are interested in learning about the ways cannabis can improve their quality of life. The consultations are designed to help the customer get comfortable with cannabis, learn about the options in their neighborhood, and choose the product that aligns best with their doctor’s recommendations. 

Similarly, the Oregon-based company Periodic Edibles provides a plethora of educational resources centering on seniors. The brand also diligently designed its product for consistency to assure hesitant consumers they are purchasing safe and scientifically developed edibles. Creating space for comprehensive education and providing products designed for seniors helps brands build valuable customer loyalty. 

Overall, men consume cannabis more frequently than women, but the population of senior women consuming cannabis is growing at unprecedented rates. Synchronicity Holistic, a dispensary in Carmel, California, was specifically designed for senior women exploring cannabis consumption. The dispensary is a bright, spacious, and accessible facility operated by staff who are trained to help seniors approach cannabis cautiously and medicinally. In fact, all employees are registered nurses or experts in medical cannabis. The dispensary also hosts educational sessions, offers private consultations, and provides individually curated experiences for each customer who comes through their doors. 

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Is Delta 8 federally legal?

Delta-8 is legal federally, and most state laws don't specifically address it. Due to ambiguities in the 2018 farm bill, which legalized hemp and hemp products, delta-8 is currently not prohibited by federal law.

What are the benefits of Delta 8?

In the human body, Delta-8 binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Because it binds to both receptors simultaneously, users experience a milder cerebral high. When compared to the effects of THC, users describe a more clear-headed, productive, energetic, and upbeat feeling.

Is Delta 8 or CBD better?

Difference Between Delta-8 THC and CBD Delta-8 THC may not be as prominent as Delta-9 THC, but it is still among the predominant cannabinoids with psychoactive properties. However, CBD is NOT a psychotropic cannabinoid. While CBD can have better results in the long run, Delta-8 THC can give you a quick fix.

Can you fly with Delta 8?

Is it Legal to Fly with Delta-8-THC? Often, yes! It is legal to fly with Delta-8 when you are flying to and from areas where Delta-8 is legal, as long as the airline you choose doesn't specifically prohibit Delta-8 products.

Does Delta 8 help with anxiety?

Contains less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC. Good for chronic pain and anxiety relief. It does not cause paranoia or increased Anxiety.

Is Delta 8 a controlled substance?

Delta-8 is considered a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because it is known to cause psychoactive impairment to the consumer.

What is the difference between Delta-8 and Delta 9?

Delta-9 THC is a property of cannabis discovered all the way back in 1964. The primary difference between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC is that Delta-8 is just a bit less psychoactive than Delta-9. This means that products with Delta-8 THC have a more gradual, and therefore more satisfying, effect on the consumer.

Does Delta-8 become 11 hydroxy?

Although in an edible form, Delta-8 THC can metabolize into a natural chemical called 11 Hydroxy tetrahydrocannabinol. Since 11 Hydroxy THC can only be absorbed through the liver, the molecule's possible psychoactive effects can last up to 6 to 8 hours during digestion.

Does Delta 8 make you sleepy?

According to the NCI, Delta-8 uniquely binds twice with cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system that play a role in sleep by calming down processes like breath, heart rate, and mental activity.

Does Delta 8 Flower get u high?

Delta-8 THC is one of the hottest topics in cannabis right now. It's a minor cannabinoid that can get you high like traditional THC, but much less so. Delta-8 found in small amounts in the cannabis plant and is often converted from other compounds like CBD.

How does Delta 8 affect the body?

5 benefits delta 8 could offer you According to the National Cancer Institute, delta-8 THC can bind to the CB1 receptor throughout the body. These receptors are part of our endocannabinoid system, which helps our body regulate and maintain homeostasis.

Does Delta 8 contain CBD?

Delta-8 is yet another compound derived from Cannabis sativa or the hemp plant. As you likely know by now, this is the same natural origin that CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, and CBC come from, too. Though all of these compounds are related to some degree, delta-8 is closest to CBD and delta-9 (also often known plainly as THC).

Does Delta 8 cause euphoria?

Delta-8 may not produce intense euphoria, but it will take effect pretty quickly. Depending on your mode of intake, of course, the time of impact will vary. If you vape it, you will experience the effects within 1 to 6 minutes. If you use a tincture, you will get the first effects after half an hour.

Is Delta 8 legal in all 50 states?

The Short Answer: Yes. Hemp-derived Delta-8 THC products, containing less than 0.3% D-9 THC is legal in all 50 states of the USA. But what if the extract contains more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC?

Can Delta 8 help you lose weight?

A research study from 2004 concluded that delta-8 helps increase appetite while promoting weight loss. This effect is certainly very unique, and scientists will do even more research on this subject. These effects might be due to the potential benefits delta-8 has on metabolism.

Does Delta 8 give you munchies?

Yes, Delta 8 can make you feel hungry. Delta 8 is an appetite-stimulating analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC). Of course this depends on the amount you smoke (vapes) or consume (edibles), but Delta 8 has been reported to stimulate your appetite, in some cases, even more than Delta 9 (marijuana).

Does Delta 8 make you laugh?

Whatever makes you laugh, Delta-8 is a great way to start the fun. In fact, we've developed Delta-8 products because we love to see people laugh.

What does Delta 8 convert to eating?

Delta-8 THC actually converts into delta-11 THC when processed through the digestive tract. Since delta-9 THC also converts into delta-11 THC when eaten, there's no special benefit to eating delta-8 THC. In general, research suggests that delta-8 has about two-thirds of the potency of delta-9.

Does Delta 8 affect your liver?

In the present study, we have demonstrated that Δ8-THCV exerted protective effects against liver I/R reperfusion damage by attenuating tissue injury, oxidative stress and inflammatory response.

Does Delta 8 make good edibles?

Our Delta-8-THC Gummies — Best for Beginners They contain 10 mg of delta-8-THC per gummy, which is a great dose to start your journey into edibles with. It will give you a relaxing buzz, and you can easily increase the dosage as needed. Our delta 8 gummies are made from a broad-spectrum hemp extract.

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