Seniors Increasingly Getting High, Study Shows

Seniors Increasingly Getting High, Study Shows | Kaiser Health News | By Carmen Heredia Rodriguez December 6, 2016

Baby boomers are getting high in increasing numbers, reflecting growing acceptance of the drug as treatment for various medical conditions, according to a study published Monday 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 was based on 47,140 responses collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Researchers also uncovered an increasing diversity in marijuana users. Past-year use doubled among married couples and those earning less than $20,000 per year.

More people living with medical conditions also sought out marijuana. The study showed the number of individuals living with two or more chronic conditions who used the drug over the past year more than doubled. Among those living with depression, the rate also doubled to 11.4 percent.

But unlike the marijuana of their youth, seniors living in states that legalized marijuana for medicinal use now can access a drug that has been tested for quality and purity, said Paul Armentano deputy director of NORML, a non-profit group advocating for marijuana legalization. Additionally, the plant is prescribed to manage diseases that usually strike in older age, pointing to an increasing desire to take a medication that has less side effects than traditional prescription drugs

The study found over half of the users picked up the habit before turning 18, and over 90 percent of them before age 36.

We are coming to a point where state lawmakers are responding to the rapidly emerging consensus-both public consensus and a scientific consensus — that marijuana is not an agent that possesses risks that qualifies it as a legally prohibited substance,” he said.

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