PRINCE ALBERT -- Interest from seniors about cannabis promoted the executive director of the Prince Albert Senior Advocacy Centre to host a workshop on the topic.

“We are getting question from the seniors we see, particularly regarding medical use of marijuana. We thought there was a lot, so let’s have a workshop,” John Fryters said.

“They want to know how it can help them with various ailments that they have. And they seem to be all pain related, anxiety related.”

About 25 people participated in the workshop. Most said they were there to learn if cannabis products could help with chronic health conditions that affect aging adults such as arthritis. Some said they had pain in their joints or legs and are interested in trying topical creams.

Many at the workshop said they had never used cannabis or cannabis related products and they want to start trying them safely.

“Take charge of your own health, go to your doctor and if they don’t, find a doctor that does believe in it,” Fryters said.

“You don’t go and buy medical marijuana at the recreational store. You go to your doctor and ask them.”

Fryters said physicians are still learning about cannabis uses for medical conditions and there are options that are non-prescription. The workshop was partially sponsored Health Canada. The federal agency cautions that marijuana is harmful to one's health.

Jim Southam, owner of a Prairie Cannabis store and founding member of the Saskatchewan Weed Pool Cooperative, attended the workshop to help answer questions.

“Be aware of how much they are consuming and not to over-do-it until they become familiar with the products they are using," he said.

“Start low and go slow is the general advice from the industry.”

The material provided at the workshop was meant to help dispel myths about cannabis. Seniors learned about the different ways cannabis can be consumed and used. Participants also discussed the possibility of addiction. Cultivation practises to grow the plants was discussed for those who were interested in growing the plants.

Seniors are the age group showing the most growth in cannabis usage, according to Statistics Canada third quarter results of the National Cannabis Survey released last month. The survey showed seniors are more likely to use cannabis for medical purposes.

Cannabis use is less common among seniors than it is in other age groups, but cannabis consumption among those 65 years and older is accelerating at a much faster pace than it is among other age groups.

The popularity of cannabis among seniors has contributed to an increase in the average age of cannabis users. It has risen from 29.4 years in 2004 to 38.1 in 2019.