Unlikely Age Group Leads in Marijuana Experimentation

23:45 19.08.2023

New research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has revealed that the fastest-growing population of marijuana users in the United States is not rebellious teenagers, but rather people aged 65 and older. The numbers have tripled since 2009, with 32% of older Americans trying marijuana in 2019, increasing further to 35% in 2021. In the slightly younger demographic of 60-64, more than half reported cannabis use. This increase is driven by a combination of physical ailments, increased cultural acceptance of marijuana, and marketing efforts promoting it as a therapeutic agent.

Dr. Elie G. Aoun, an addiction and forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University, explained that many older people are experimenting with marijuana despite the lack of evidence supporting its wide use. Previously, only 1% of people aged 65 and older reported using marijuana in the past month, compared to five times that number in 2021. The baby boomer generation, who experimented with drugs in the 1970s, is now reaching these ages, leading to the rise in cannabis use among older Americans.

While legalization and dispensaries have reduced the stigma attached to recreational marijuana, there is limited scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness in treating acute or chronic pain, one of the most common reasons for its use. William C. Kerr, scientific director of the Alcohol Research Group, emphasized the need for research to understand the unique issues faced by this age group, such as interactions with health problems and medications.

However, not all older Americans are on board with the recreational use of marijuana. The silent generation, who grew up before its widespread acceptance, are still skeptical. A Pew Research survey found that only 30% of those over age 75 support legalizing recreational marijuana, compared to 53% of Americans in the 65-74 age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns about the risks associated with marijuana use. After alcohol, marijuana is the substance most often associated with impaired driving. Edibles, which are food or drinks infused with marijuana, have a greater risk of poisoning compared to smoking. The effects of edibles may take longer to kick in, leading people to unknowingly consume too much, resulting in poisoning or serious injury. The intoxicating effects of marijuana may also last longer than expected, depending on interactions with medications and other factors.

With metabolism slowing down as people age and many older adults taking multiple medications, caution is advised when using marijuana to avoid unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects. As the fastest-growing group of marijuana users in the United States, older Americans need to be aware of these risks and use marijuana responsibly.

/ Saturday, August 19, 2023, 11:45 PM /

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