Baby boomers are getting high in increasing numbers, reflecting growing acceptance of marijuana as treatment for various medical conditions, according to a study published recently in the journal Addiction.
The findings reveal overall use among the 50-and-older study group increased “significantly” from 2006 to 2013. Marijuana users peaked between ages 50 to 64, then declined among the 65-and-over crowd.
Men used marijuana more frequently than women, the study showed, but marital status and educational levels were not major factors in determining users.
The study by researchers at New York University School of Medicine suggests more data is needed about the long-term health impact of marijuana use among seniors. Study participants said they did not perceive the drug as dangerous, a sign of changing attitudes.
The study was based on 47,140 responses collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Joseph Palamar, a professor at the NYU medical school and a co-author of the study, said the findings reinforce the need for research and a call for providers to screen the elderly for drug use.
“They shouldn’t just assume that someone is not a drug user because they’re older,” Palamar said.
Growing use of the drug among the 50-and-older crowd reflects the national trend toward pushing cannabis into mainstream culture. More than 22 million people used the drug in 2015, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Seven states have legalized the drug for medicinal use and collect taxes from sales, according to Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to enacting nonpunitive marijuana policies across the United States. The drug has also proved to be a financial boon for state economies, generating more than $19 million in September in Colorado.
Researchers also uncovered an increasing diversity in marijuana users. Past-year use doubled among married couples