Might there be a heightened danger for older patients who use medical marijuana? That’s what one professor at the University of Iowa is aiming to find out. 

Thorsten Rudroff, a professor in the department of neurology at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, is currently looking for volunteers between the ages of 50 and 80 to participate in the study, which will examine whether cannabis use creates a greater risk in them falling.

The study will feature two pools of individuals: those who do use marijuana, and those who do not. For Rudroff, it’s an opportunity to examine pot use among a group of people who may not be the best equipped to dabble.

“It’s self-medicated,” said Rudroff, as quoted by local television station KCRG. “They don’t know how to use medical cannabis. There are no guidelines, no recommendations out there. We want to find out what is the best and safest product.”

Those who participate in the two-year study will receive $100. 

Iowa and Medical Cannabis

Late last year, Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Board said it would consider adding a host of new qualifying conditions for the state’s medical CBD program:  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), opioid use disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and intellectual disability with aggression and/or self-injury. Appeals to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions were particularly vocal, with a number of medical cannabis dispensaries and patient advocates in Iowa calling on the board to add it. Among those lobbying most strongly were representatives of the state’s dispensaries.

“There’s still a huge stigma around THC,” said Amber Points, the manager of the Have a Heart CBD Shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “They don’t want to be stoned or high. What they’re really seeing is pain relief. We see it every day. We hear their stories. They’re tired of taking pills. They’re tired of taking opioids and are looking for a more natural way to live.”

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed a medical marijuana expansion bill last spring that would have expanded the number of patients eligible to use medical cannabis and increased the allowable THC dosage for therapeutic cannabis products.

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