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Marijuana Use Becoming More Prevalent With Baby Boomers

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The number of baby boomers, or adults aged 50 and above, who smoke weed or consume other cannabis products is growing rapidly.

After analyzing over 17,000 responses from the 2015-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a team of researchers from the NYU School of Medicine found that the percentage of adults aged 50-64 who use cannabis products have doubled in the past decade. The number of users of those aged 65 and above has increased sevenfold.

The findings were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence this week.

Marijuana Use Across Older Generation

From 2015-2016, 9 percent of the adults within the 50-64 age range admitted to using marijuana and other cannabis products. Meanwhile, the survey reported that 3 percent of the responders aged 65 and above consumed the recreational drug.

In comparison, in a previous survey conducted from 2006-2007, only 4.5 percent of 50 to 64-year-olds while 0.4 percent of adults aged 65 and older reported using marijuana.

The study attributes the increase of baby boomers using marijuana to the changing attitude of the society around the recreational drug. More and more states are legalizing pot across the country and making access might be encouraging more adults to try it out at least once even if marijuana is still more popular among young adults.

It is also more likely that baby boomers, who had access to marijuana and other drugs in the 60s and 70s, are rediscovering the joys of pot use in the present.

"The baby boomer generation grew up during a period of significant cultural change, including a surge in popularity of marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s," explained Benjamin Han, lead author and assistant professor at NYU Langone Health.

"We're now in a new era of changing attitudes around marijuana, and as stigma declines and access improves, it appears that baby boomers — many of whom have prior experience smoking marijuana — are increasingly using it."

Some adults, however, stated that they are using marijuana in the present because their doctors have recommended it. Cannabis, after all, has medicinal uses including pain management.

Alarming Patterns

The research has also found that certain boomers who use marijuana are at high risk of experiencing the adverse side effects of the recreational drug. For example, using marijuana and drinking alcoholic beverages could be detrimental to one's cognitive function.

"A concerning finding from our study was the higher prevalence of alcohol use disorder, nicotine dependence, cocaine use, and prescription drug misuse among middle-aged and older adults with past-year marijuana use compared to non-past-year users," the study reads.

People who are taking prescription medications should consult their physician before using marijuana to avoid misuse.

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