Increased Likelihood of Falling in Older Cannabis Users vs. Non-Users

Craig D. Workman, Alexandra C. Fietsam, Jacob Sosnoff, Thorsten Rudroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cannabis is one of the most common drugs in the United States and is the third most prevalent substance consumed by adults aged 50 years and older. Normal aging is associated with physiological changes that make older adults vulnerable to impaired function and geriatric conditions (e.g., falls, cognitive impairment). However, the impact of medical cannabis use on fall risk in older adults remains unexplored. The purpose of this study was to investigate if cannabis use in older adults influences fall risk, cognitive function, and motor function. It was hypothesized that older chronic cannabis users would perform worse than non-users on gait, balance, and cognitive tests. Sixteen older adults, split into cannabis Users and age- and sex-matched Non-Users groups (n = 8/group), participated in the study. The results indicate a higher fall risk, worse one leg standing balance performance, and slower gait speed in Users vs. Non-Users. No significant differences in cognitive function were found. Thus, chronic cannabis use was purported to exacerbate the poorer balance control and slower gait velocity associated with normal aging. Future mechanistic (e.g., neuroimaging) investigations of the short- and long-term effects of using a variety of cannabis products (e.g., THC/CBD ratios, routes of administration) on cognitive function, motor function, and fall incidence in older adults are suggested.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Balance
  • Cannabis
  • Fall risk
  • Gait
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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