Study Finds Marijuana Use Among Baby Boomers Doubled in Past Decade

Breaking down many of the stereotypes, older folks are consuming more weed now than in the past.
Study Finds Marijuana Use Among Baby Boomers Doubled in Past Decade
Neil Moralee/ Flickr

Emerging cannabis research often ends up disproving stereotypes about who consumes weed. Now, a new study seems to undermine the assumption that weed is primarily consumed by young people. In fact, new data shows that the number of senior citizens smoking weed has seen a rapid increase in recent years.

New Data Points to Increasing Cannabis Consumption

In a study published earlier this week, researchers analyzed stats from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, including the rates of cannabis use among senior citizens.

After looking at survey responses from 17,608 adults 50 and older, researchers identified a number of potentially important trends. In particular, they discovered that rates of use in this age group have steadily increased in recent years.

The prevalence of past-year marijuana consumption among those between the ages of 50 and 64 rose to nine percent in 2015-2016. Similarly, rates of past-year consumption among those 65 and older rose to 2.9 percent.

But the study wasn’t only looking at how many seniors now consume cannabis. They also looked for any other possible connections. One of the key connections they found had to do with the use or misuse of drugs.

When researchers analyzed this data, they found that “prevalence of past-year alcohol use disorder, nicotine dependence, cocaine use, and misuse of prescription medications were higher among marijuana users compared to non-users.”

After analyzing all data, researchers working on the project concluded that “marijuana use is becoming more prevalent in this population and users are also at high risk for other drug use.”

Cannabis and Age Cohorts: Who’s Smoking More Weed?

The data used in this study is even more interesting when stacked up against trends of cannabis use among other age cohorts. In particular, among teens and young adults.

As legalization spreads to more and more states, researchers have devoted significant effort to studying how it affects young people. These types of studies consistently find that legalization does not lead to higher rates of use among teens.

For example, a study published last month concluded that the presence of nearby medical marijuana dispensaries did not affect rate of use among adolescents. Similarly, a study published only a few weeks ago discovered that teen marijuana consumption has actually declined in California in recent years. That trend has so far held true even as legal recreational sales began earlier this year.

Importantly, these and other similar studies suggest that teen rates of use have fallen even as cannabis has become more accepted and available. These findings are consistent with data from other weed-legal states.

Moving beyond cannabis, some studies have also looked at drug use in the age of legal weed. Interestingly, a 2017 study found that teen drug use in Colorado has declined as well since weed became legal.

All of these studies undermine the popular claim that legalization will lead to increased use among young people. In fact, a very different picture emerges when we look at all available data.

Taken as a whole, current research suggests that it’s not young people who are consuming more weed. Rather, it’s older generations that are now consuming more cannabis than in the past.

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