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New Research Shows Older Adults are the Fastest Growing Population to Try Marijuana

According to new research, the fastest growing population to try marijuana is older adults. Dr. William Kerr with PHI’s Alcohol Research Group discusses this upward trend and the need for more research to understand unique issues among older adults, such as interactions with health problems or medications.

  • Fox News Digital
medical marijuana

“The fastest growing population to try marijuana these days is not rebellious teenagers. Guess again.

New research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual federal report that began over 50 years ago to provide up-to-date data on the use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs as well as mental health in the United States, has a very different finding.

Instead, it’s people age 65 and older who are experimenting with marijuana more than any other age group.

The number has actually tripled since 2009, from 11% to 32% in 2019.

The numbers of older Americans trying pot increased further to 35% in 2021, the researchers noted, because the survey methodology changed during the pandemic.

In the slightly younger 60-64 demographic, more than half reported cannabis use.

“For seniors, experimenting with marijuana for the first time is driven” by several factors, Dr. Elie G. Aoun, addiction and forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York City, told Fox News Digital.

These include “a combination of physical ailments, the increased cultural acceptance of marijuana and the marketing efforts aimed at promoting marijuana as a therapeutic agent,” added Aoun, who is also a member of the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees.

He noted that older people are experimenting with the drug “despite the lack of evidence to support its wide use.”

More than a decade ago, only 1% of people 65 and older reported having used marijuana in the past month compared to five times that number in 2021.

Baby boomers retiring

“Marijuana — which can also be called cannabis — is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States, with an estimated 48.2 million people using it in 2019,” according to the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It has several other names, including weed, pot or dope, inspired by parts of the cannabis plant — which has more than 100 compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can be mind-altering.

It also contains other active compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD), that do not cause a “high.”

William Kerr
Cannabis use in the population over 65 was rare until recently, as baby boomers reached these ages. William Kerr, PhD

Scientific Director, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute

Although many older Americans have tried the drug, most don’t do use it regularly.

A need ‘to understand unique issues’

But as legalization and dispensaries have dampened the stigma attached to the recreational drug in recent years, more older Americans are trying the drug for more practical purposes such as sleep and pain control.

Yet there is limited scientific evidence, warns the CDC, that supports the idea that the drug effectively treats most types of acute or chronic pain — despite pain control being one of the most common reasons for using the drug.

So there is a need for research to understand unique issues for this group such as interactions with health problems and medications. William Kerr, PHD

Scientific Director, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute

Impaired driving, poisoning, unexpected intoxicating effects

“After alcohol, marijuana is the substance most often associated with impaired driving,” the CDC cautioned on its website.

And the way people use marijuana may also place individuals at greater risk.

Edibles, which are food or drinks infused with marijuana, have a greater risk of poisoning, compared to smoking marijuana, said the same source.

They may take anywhere from half an hour to up to two hours to take effect, so people may unknowingly eat too much, which can lead to poisoning or serious injury, according to the CDC.”

This story also ran in the New York Post, Yahoo! News, and The Globe Echo.

Click on the link below to read the full article.

Originally published by Fox News Digital

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