Study Protocol: Cannabis in the Closet? Older Persons' Perceptions of Stigma and their Influence on Use and Access to Medicinal Cannabis

Keywords: social stigma, cannabis, older people


Background: Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for millennia. Stigma associated with cannabis use may influence older persons access to cannabis, information seeking about cannabis, and/or use of cannabis. Scant research has sought to examine the impact of older persons’ perceptions of stigma on the ways they learn about and use medicinal cannabis, with important implications for their health.

Methods/Design: In this qualitative descriptive study, we will seek older persons’ information needs and challenges accessing cannabis from older persons and professionals who work in the cannabis industry. Using open ended questions, we will survey and interview older persons who use cannabis or are considering using it about their perceptions of stigma, information seeking, choice of cannabis product, and preferred vendor. Professionals who work with cannabis will be interviewed for their experiences with older persons seeking information about and access to cannabis.

Discussion: Findings will identify what information related to medicinal cannabis use older Canadians most urgently need, shed light on any stigma they fear and/or experience when searching for such information, and inform the development of information products and knowledge mobilization strategies tailored to older Canadians’ knowledge needs.