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Cannabis & Seniors: Barriers to Access

Cannabis & Seniors: Barriers to Access

We know that cannabis has the potential to help improve seniors’ quality of life, as talked about here. However, there are barriers that prevent this demographic from accessing cannabis under medical supervision.

Accessibility of Ordering Platform

Most people who use medical cannabis log onto the website of their licensed producer(s) and order their medicine online. They browse through the different products and read the descriptions of cannabinoids and terpenes. If they’re not sure about a product, they’ll look up reviews or articles online to better inform their decision. But what happens when you’re not internet savvy? Orders can also be placed through the phone but its not the same. While internet use among those age 75 and older has increased, 50% of Canadians in that age bracket still don’t use the internet.


Like many Canadians, the cost of cannabis can be a barrier for seniors on a fixed income. Unlike other prescription medications, cannabis is taxed twice, with excise and sales taxes. There are licensed producers who are absorbing the excise tax that came into effect with legalization in 2018 and some even have seniors’ discounts or compassion pricing which can help make medicine more affordable. Even with those discounts though, it can still be more expensive than most prescription medications, especially because they’re not covered under insurance plans or provincial prescription drug programs.

Living Arrangements

The 2016 census recorded “nearly one in three people aged 85 and older lives in a collective dwelling.” A collective dwelling can include “nursing homes, long-term care facilities or seniors’ residences.” Depending on the facility, smoking or vaping may not be allowed inside. For a patient with limited mobility, going outside may not be an option, especially during the winter months. If a patient has limited mobility and isn’t able to digest cannabis oil or doesn’t find it as effective as inhalation, their options for medicating are significantly reduced.

Prescriber Access

Though more doctors are being educated about the benefits of cannabis, many family doctors are not comfortable authorizing cannabis just yet. When this happens patients often turn to cannabis clinics they’ve heard about online, especially through social media. While cannabis is now accessible for adults in Canada, it is important for patients wanting to use it medically to have the guidance of a qualified medical professional, especially if the patient is taking other medications. If someone isn’t active online or doesn’t know anyone who can help them, they’re in dark.


A cannabis clinic like Natural Care can be an excellent option for patients who do not have a doctor or specialist who is willing to authorize medical cannabis. A medical practitioner at the clinic will assess medications and medical conditions that could impact how well certain cannabis products are tolerated. Once cannabis is determined to be a suitable treatment, a treatment plan with dosing and product suggestions will be created for the individual patient. If you live in a community without a cannabis clinic many clinics like Natural Care offer telemedicine appointments. A telemedicine appointment will require access to device with both a camera and microphone. If this isn’t something you have experience with or have access to, reach out to a friend or family member.

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Article written by


Breanna Neufeld

Breanna Neufeld is a visual artist and writer, born and raised on the prairies of Manitoba, Canada.

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