A New York University study has found a 71 percent increase in cannabis use among Baby Boomers – those aged 59 and older – according to a Science Daily report. The study, “Demographic Trends among Older Cannabis Users in the United States, 2006-2013” is published in the Addiction journal.
Using data derived from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the researchers discovered that while adults 65 and older had reported a significantly lower prevalence of cannabis use, use among that group also increased by two and a half times over the eight year period.
Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, an assistant professor at New York University Langone Medical Center, indicated that just 5 percent of adults over 50 believed that using cannabis one or twice a week was a health risk.
“I thought the perception of low risk was fascinating because, typically, we think of older generations as drug-adverse, and perceiving most drugs to be risky,” Palamar said in the report. “But apparently very few Baby Boomers consider marijuana use risky. But after all, this was the generation who was there, in the late 1960s, when the counterculture revolution exploded marijuana into mainstream popularity.”
Palamar said that while public health researchers were worried about the potential effects of cannabis on developing brains, some should consider switching their focus to older patients “who are increasingly more likely to be current users,” noting that older people are at a higher risk for adverse health outcomes and take prescription drugs which could negatively interact with cannabis.
The researchers say that further research is needed into whether or not changing public perception has had any impact on the cannabis use of older populations and whether they are at an increased risk of falling while using cannabis.