Study: Baby Boomers Are Using More Cannabis

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Cannabis use is continuing to grow in popularity among the Baby Boomer generation, as 9 percent of adults 50-64 years old and nearly 3 percent of adults who are 65+ reported having used cannabis in the past year, according to a study in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.

While these numbers might not seem extraordinary, the number of adults aged 50-64 who have used cannabis in the last year actually doubled over the course of ten years (from 4.5 percent in 2006-2007 to 9 percent in 2015-2016) and for adults aged 65+, that number increased more than sevenfold (from 0.4 percent to 2.9 percent).

“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.” — Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, lead author of the study, an a NYU Langone Health news release

Cannabis use tendencies are certainly on the rise among middle-aged and older Americans, but researchers found that individuals who had used cannabis previously in their lives are more likely to be using it now.

“Most baby boomers who recently used marijuana first used as teens during the 1960s and 1970s,” said study senior author Joseph Palamar, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health. “This doesn’t mean these individuals have been smoking marijuana for all these years, but most current users are by no means new initiates.”

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