More and more seniors are embracing their inner pothead, according to a new survey.
Data from a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that cannabis use among adults 65 and older shot up 75% from 2015 to 2018. Five years ago, only 2.4% of surveyed seniors said they were using cannabis products. Now 4.2% are sipping from the wacky weed in some form.
The upswing continues a trend more than a decade long. Back in 2005, only 0.5% of older adults partook in cannabis.
The study’s author, geriatrician Benjamin Han, said his findings are consistent with his experience with patients.
“Ten years ago, no one asked me about cannabis use ever. Now, it’s a very common question when I’m in the clinic,” he said. “I probably get asked about once a week. There’s a lot of interest.”
While the survey did not ask participants why they use cannabis, other findings indicate that many are using it for medical treatment. For instance, people with diabetes have been using more cannabis compared to other groups, and some studies have shown that weed can be effective in treating symptoms of diabetes such as nerve pain.
Han speculates that a large part of the increase in senior stoners is “probably the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, and destigmatization. And, that we have more and more information about the use of cannabis for chronic illnesses.”
He also noted that older adults are somewhat neglected by the medical marijuana field. Because senior adults participate in clinical studies less often and frequently take other prescription medications, not enough attention is given to how cannabis specifically affects those over 65.
“We do a very poor job screening and talking to older patients about drug and alcohol use,” he said. “That may have negative health effects.”
Photo via Flickr/Shawn Allen