When one thinks of the average cannabis user, middle-aged parents are usually not what comes to mind. However, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the older crowd is more likely to indulge in the herb than young people are.
Study Shows Older People Smoke More
The teenage crowd smoked quite a bit more than their parents’ generation back in 2002 – but now that has changed. The newly released study found that only 7.4% of Americans age 12-17 years old regularly smoked marijuana in 2014 – a 10% decline from ’02. This is lower than the 8% of 35-44-year-olds who smoked regularly in 2014, making people in the 35-44-year-old bracket slightly more likely to be marijuana users than people in the 12-17 bracket.
Other older demographics have shown a marked uptick in their incidence of cannabis use as well. Since 2002, the 45-54-year-old bracket has gone from 4% to nearly 6%. The 55-64 bracket has shown an even bigger upswing, coming in at just over 6% all the way up from about 1% in 2002. Even senior citizens aged 65 and up have taken to smoking more.
Why The Rise In Older Smokers?
There are a few things that can explain this rise in popularity of cannabis among the older generation. Since 2002, many states have legalized medicinal marijuana – a total of 25 (plus the District of Columbia). CBS News did a report on the rise of medical marijuana patients among the older crowd. As awareness has spread in recent years, seniors are increasingly using cannabis to treat aches and pains associated with arthritis, among other things.
The Washington Post reported on another phenomenon: in states where medical marijuana has been legalized, Medicare prescriptions for painkillers has dropped. Presumably, patients who rely on these medications are turning to marijuana in increasing numbers to treat their ailments.
And perhaps the most obvious reason of all: getting high is enjoyable. As the cannabis movement gains more traction, older people are getting more knowledge on the plant and its effects. The fact that marijuana use is relatively harmless plays a significant role in its rising popularity, and seniors are realizing in increasing numbers that getting high is a safer alternative to drinking booze for their buzz.
The Final Hit
The stigma of the average marijuana user being a young ne’er-do-well is eroding more and more over time as older folks are taking the herb in increasing numbers. The trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, either; after all, the number of states legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes keeps getting greater.