Post date: 6/27/2023

When it comes to your business, inclusivity can make or break it. One group of people that dispensary owners often overlook is senior citizens. But just how viable is cannabis for senior citizens, and what can you do to improve their experience at your dispensary? Below we’re breaking down the trends in the senior market and highlighting a few ways you can capture this demographic using an improved store environment, cannabis payment processing to support seniors who can’t make it into the dispensary, and more.


The Growing Importance of the Senior Market

According to a report from the Administration on Aging, more than 1 in 6 Americans is a senior aged 65 years or older. To break that down, that’s a population of about 55.7 million people— or potential customers. Let’s face it. If there’s one group of people who could benefit from all of the potential therapeutic aspects of cannabis, it’s the seniors. Better yet, they’re starting to realize that for themselves.


As more states continue to push for legalization, we’ve seen a gradual shift in societal attitudes toward cannabis. For people who lived during the harsh propaganda brought on by the War on Drugs, we’re seeing increased acceptance and destigmatization of cannabis as people push for legalization, scientists continue to study it, and more and more people use it. This change has encouraged seniors to consider cannabis as a viable option for their health and wellness needs.


But let’s break that down a little bit. Evidence suggests that 30% of seniors live with daily chronic pain due to conditions like arthritis, neuropathy, or other age-related ailments. Traditionally, the answer to pain management has been prescription painkillers which may help with pain but may also affect their quality of life in other ways. However, cannabis has shown potential as an alternative or complementary therapy for pain management. Cannabis may provide relief without a few of the risks or side effects associated with the long-term use of traditional pain medications and opioids.


Some studies suggest that 4-9% of seniors use opioids for pain management. The opioid epidemic has raised concerns about the safety and addictive nature of these medications. Seniors, who may be more vulnerable to opioid-related risks, are increasingly turning to cannabis as a potentially safer alternative to manage pain and reduce their reliance on opioids.


To take it a step further, studies also suggest potential benefits of cannabis in end-of-life care, particularly in managing symptoms like pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and anxiety. Seniors facing severe illnesses or in hospice care may find cannabis helpful in improving their quality of life and overall comfort.

Cannabis for Senior Citizens

Cannabis for Senior Citizens: Are They Using It?

Evidence suggests that cannabis may potentially improve mood, promote relaxation, and enhance overall well-being. Seniors may be attracted to the potential psychological and emotional benefits that cannabis might offer, especially with the complexity of the physical and mental effects associated with the challenges of aging.


According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, senior cannabis use has doubled in recent years and currently makes up 4.2% of users. The number of senior citizens using cannabis is on the rise, driven by changing attitudes, increased legalization efforts, and a growing body of research supporting its therapeutic potential.


Many seniors are seeking alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals, looking for natural remedies that can address common age-related health conditions and improve their quality of life. By acknowledging this trend and adapting to the needs of senior customers, dispensaries can position themselves as trusted sources of cannabis education and products.

Senior Citizen Mood Improved with Cannabis

How to Build a Better Dispensary Experience for Senior Citizens

As the baby boomer generation ages, the senior market presents a substantial opportunity for dispensaries to cater to this demographic’s unique needs and preferences. Understanding the evolving landscape and considering the impact of seniors on the market is essential for dispensaries looking to enhance the dispensary experience for senior citizens. Below, we’re breaking down a few of the best ways to build a better dispensary experience for seniors, which can help you capture this market and build a network of loyal customers.


1. Understand Their Needs and Preferences

Understanding the needs and preferences of seniors is crucial for businesses looking to tap into the growing senior market. To enhance the dispensary experience for seniors, it’s vital to gain insight into their common health conditions, concerns, and interests that might be addressed with cannabis. Let’s take a look at what that looks like:


  • Addressing Stigma: Despite the shifting attitudes towards cannabis, there may still be lingering stigma, particularly among older generations. Understanding this stigma and actively working to address it can help dispensaries create a welcoming and inclusive environment for seniors. By providing education, accurate information, and personal testimonials, dispensaries can counteract misconceptions and build trust with seniors.


  • Meeting Unique Health Needs: Seniors often have specific health needs and conditions that may be addressed with cannabis. Chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, and anxiety are among the common health issues seniors face. However, they may also deal with nausea or a lack of appetite from other medications or medical conditions. By understanding these needs and curating a selection of products that cater specifically to seniors, dispensaries can offer solutions that are tailored to their specific requirements.


  • Providing a Human Experience: Seniors often appreciate a more personal and human experience when visiting dispensaries. They may have more questions, require additional guidance, or simply desire a compassionate approach. Ensuring that staff members are patient, respectful, and knowledgeable can create a positive dispensary experience for seniors and foster long-term customer loyalty.


  • Building Trust and Loyalty: By understanding and addressing seniors’ unique challenges, dispensaries can build trust and loyalty among this demographic. Seniors are more likely to return to a dispensary where they feel understood, respected, and well-cared for. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied senior customers can further enhance the dispensary’s reputation and attract new customers.


  • Overcoming Barriers to Access: Seniors may face barriers to accessing cannabis, such as limited mobility, transportation challenges, or lack of familiarity with technology for online purchases. By considering these challenges and offering solutions like home delivery or assisted online ordering, dispensaries can ensure that seniors have equal access to their products and services.


By understanding seniors’ needs, preferences, and challenges, dispensaries can create a customer-centric approach that caters specifically to this demographic but also serves others. This not only helps businesses thrive but also contributes to the overall destigmatization of cannabis and promotes inclusivity in the industry.

2. Create a Senior-Friendly Store Environment

A senior-friendly store environment is essential to make seniors feel comfortable and welcome. Accessible design, including wider aisles and wheelchair accessibility, is crucial. It also helps to build ramps for seniors who have trouble getting up or down the stairs because of walkers or wheelchairs.


Comfortable seating areas can allow seniors to take a break and consult with staff or have a friendly conversation with fellow customers. Clear signage and well-organized product displays help seniors navigate the store more easily. Consideration should also be given to lighting and noise levels, as many seniors may have sensory sensitivities.

3. Curate a Winning Product Selection for Seniors

When selecting products for seniors, dispensaries should focus on options that are easy to use, offer precise dosing, and provide targeted relief. Seniors may prefer products such as topicals to help manage localized pain, tinctures for convenient dosing, or low-dose edibles for longer-lasting effects. Emphasizing products with clear labeling, detailed instructions, and low THC concentrations can help seniors make informed decisions about their cannabis use.


However, it’s also essential to meet them where they are. For seniors with debilitating medical conditions, like Parkinson’s or MS, for example, it can be challenging to open specialized child-proof containers, roll their own joints or carefully measure cannabis oils with a dropper. It helps to carry products that address these needs. Pre-rolled joints, bath bombs, easy-dose single-serve capsules, and products containing THC and CBD may benefit seniors’ unique challenges.


4. Take Extra Steps to Educate Seniors about Cannabis

Clear, jargon-free education is crucial to ensure that seniors have a solid understanding of the benefits, risks, and safe use of cannabis. For example, some seniors may not know or care to learn the nuances of how terpenes play a role in how a cannabis strain will affect them and may prefer clear, straightforward information like the indica, sativa, and hybrid model. The key theme here is to meet them where they are. Teach them in ways they can understand and are helpful to them.


Dispensaries can provide educational materials, host workshops, or offer one-on-one consultations to address seniors’ questions and concerns. Information should cover topics such as potential drug interactions, proper dosing, different consumption methods, product-specific education, and possible side effects. By empowering seniors with knowledge, dispensaries can enable them to make informed choices about their cannabis use.

5. Train Staff to Effectively Serve Senior Customers

Dispensary staff should receive comprehensive training to serve senior customers effectively. Your team should have a clear understanding of their needs and preferences and may benefit from sensitivity training. Learning to treat this group of people with patience, respect, and empathy helps to create a welcoming atmosphere where seniors feel comfortable asking questions and seeking guidance.


Staff should also know about common health conditions affecting seniors and be well-versed in how cannabis may provide relief for specific symptoms but can’t treat anything. Staff members should prioritize customer service and ensure a positive interaction, which helps your business build trust and loyalty among senior customers.

6. Offer Senior Discounts and Special Promotions

Targeted promotions and discounts for seniors can be an effective way to attract and retain this demographic. Offering discounted pricing on specific products that are helpful for seniors, running a daily senior discount, or designating certain days only to seniors can incentivize them to choose your dispensary over others that aren’t going the extra mile. Additionally, loyalty programs tailored to seniors can provide further benefits and rewards. By recognizing the value of senior customers, dispensaries demonstrate their commitment to serving the community’s diverse needs.

7. Throw Health and Wellness Events for Seniors

Hosting health and wellness events tailored to the senior demographic can be a valuable way to engage with seniors and provide them with additional resources and support. While shopping, some seniors may feel rushed when the store is busy. However, having designated workshops, Q&A sessions, or guest speakers can help cover topics seniors may have questions about that they’re uncomfortable asking while actively shopping.


Some topics include pain management, sleep disorders, stress reduction, and alternative therapies. Alternatively, other topics can cover FAQs seniors may have about the potential benefits of cannabis, serving sizes, consumption methods, products, smoking accessories, and more. These events create opportunities for seniors to interact with industry professionals, ask questions, and deepen their knowledge about cannabis use and its potential benefits, but also position your business as a trustworthy and inclusive community figure.

8. Make it Easier to Shop Online

There are a lot of seniors out there who can’t always make it into the dispensary between limited mobility, lack of a driver’s license, or conflicting schedules with their caretakers. A way to help meet seniors where they are is to bring the dispensary experience to them. The convenience of home delivery, online ordering, accepting digital payments without seniors having to stop at the bank, and curbside pickup all accommodate seniors.


With all that said, dispensaries should invest in user-friendly online platforms. Offering technical support and assistance for seniors unfamiliar with online shopping can help bridge the digital divide and ensure equal access to cannabis products and information. The online shopping experience should be intuitive, with clear product descriptions, easy navigation, and secure payment options.


While it can be difficult to employ all of these practices in your dispensary with limited banking options accessible to the cannabis industry, Paybotic offers secure cannabis payment processing solutions tailored explicitly for cannabis businesses. Our platform helps to support both curbside pickup and delivery, as well as comprehensive banking and cannabis payment processing services with credit or debit cards. All of which streamline your transactions and help enhance the online shopping experience for seniors.

9. Collaborate with Healthcare Providers

Building partnerships with local healthcare providers, clinics, nursing homes, or senior community centers is essential for fostering trust and credibility among seniors. Dispensaries can offer educational resources, host information sessions, or provide brochures that healthcare professionals can share with their senior patients. This collaboration promotes an integrated approach to healthcare, where cannabis becomes part of the conversation between patients and their healthcare providers.

10. Listen to Their Feedback

Highlighting testimonials or stories from senior customers can help dispel misconceptions and showcase the real-life impact of cannabis on their well-being. Sharing personal experiences through written testimonials, video interviews, or social media posts can help seniors connect with others who have benefited from cannabis use. This can further normalize cannabis as a viable option for seniors and inspire others to explore its potential benefits by breaking the stigma.


Alternatively, it’s crucial to take negative feedback from seniors seriously. If they’re having accessibility issues or not feeling like they’re included, you can use their feedback to make improvements in real-time, addressing their needs more effectively and creating more inclusivity.

11. Stay Informed and Continue to Adapt

The cannabis industry is continuously evolving, and dispensaries need to stay informed about the changing needs and experiences of senior cannabis users. Keeping up with new research, industry trends, products, and regulatory developments allows dispensaries to provide senior customers with the most accurate and up-to-date information. Regularly seeking feedback from seniors and adapting strategies based on their input ensures that your dispensary remains responsive to their evolving preferences and expectations.


Final Thoughts: Cannabis for Senior Citizens

Senior Citizen Enjoying Cannabis

Catering to senior citizens is not only a business opportunity but also aligns with your dispensary’s commitment to serving all members of the community. By understanding seniors’ unique needs and preferences, creating a senior-friendly store environment, offering education and training, and providing tailored products and services, dispensaries can make a welcoming space where seniors feel respected, supported, and empowered in their cannabis journey.


Partnering with industry leaders like Paybotic, who offer secure cannabis payment processing solutions, MMJ curbside pickup and delivery support, and banking services for cannabis businesses, can further enhance the dispensary experience for seniors, ensuring smooth transactions and streamlined curbside checkout and pickup processes. Through these collective efforts, dispensaries can positively impact seniors’ lives while contributing to the growth and development of the cannabis industry as a whole.


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