It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your grandma is? Or what she’s smoking?
Marijuana use is becoming more prevalent among middle-aged and
older adults with nearly one of 10 reporting pot use in a newly released study
published by the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal.
The study of 18,000 people
over 50 by researchers at New
York University found that 9
percent of adults aged 50-64
and nearly 3 percent of adults
65 and older were indulging.
These new figures, which
use data from 2015-2016,
demonstrate a substantial
increase in marijuana use over
the past near-decade when those reporting usage in the 50-64 age bracket was
4.5 percent and the share of adults 65 and older was a mere 0.4 percent.
Attitudes towards marijuana use are shifting in the U.S., and although
cannabis users are more likely to be young adults, the Boomer generation is
“The Baby Boomer generation grew up during a period of significant
cultural change, including a surge in popularity of marijuana in the 1960s
and 1970s. We’re now in a new era of changing attitudes around marijuana,
and as stigma declines and access improves, it appears that Baby Boomers—
many of whom have prior experience smoking marijuana—are increasingly
using it,” said lead author Benjamin Han, M.D., an assistant professor in the
Department of Medicine’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care
and Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health.
In addition, some adults who used marijuana in the past year (15 percent
of users aged 50-64 and 22.9 percent of those 65 and older) reported that a
doctor had recommended it to them, reflecting the substantial use of marijuana
for medical purposes.
The study also found that adults who lit up were more likely to also
report alcohol use disorder, nicotine dependence, cocaine use, and misuse
of prescription medications (including opioids and sedatives) than non-users
– a concern since aging bodies may react differently to a drug than they did
decades ago. Also, today’s pot is more potent and older people tend to take
more prescription drugs.
“Marijuana has been shown to have benefits in treating certain conditions
that affect older adults, including neuropathic pain and nausea,” said Han
in the report. “However, certain older adults may be at heightened risk for
adverse effects associated with marijuana use, particularly if they have certain
underlying chronic diseases or are also engaged in unhealthy substance use.”
The researchers suggest that clinicians screen older patients who use
marijuana for other substance use to ensure they are educated on the potential
risks and complications of using pot, especially with multiple drugs.
Source: New York University