According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the number of U.S. adults over 65 that reported using cannabis increased from 2.4 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2018, an increase of 75 percent. The study’s respondents were 55.2 percent male and 77.1 percent white.
Joseph J. Palamar, an associate professor of population health at New York University Langone Medical Center and the study’s co-author, suggested that many of those adults surveyed weren’t first-time users but that the increase was likely due to more states legalizing over the three years and “increasing social acceptability in general.”
“I think a lot of older people are hearing more and more about potential medical uses and many of these people are willing to try it out to see how it works.” – Palamar, to UPI
Overall, the researchers found significant increases in cannabis use among women, among those who were college-educated, and those who had a higher income. The study also found cannabis use increased across all races and ethnic groups.
Additionally, the research suggests that cannabis use among older adults with diabetes increased by 180 percent from 2015 to 2018, and 95.8 percent among those with other chronic diseases. Cannabis use also increased by 157.1 percent over the study period among those who received mental health treatment.
Palamar noted that today’s cannabis is much stronger than what was used “back in the day” and that the bodies of older individuals aren’t the same as when they were younger, and that “people need to make sure they’re educated about the drugs they use.”
“Marijuana is by no means the most dangerous drug, but some people do experience adverse effects from use,” he said in an interview with UPI.
The study also suggests simultaneous alcohol and cannabis use among those 50-and-older had also increased, which the researchers say is riskier than using either alone.
The data from the study was derived from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.