The number of older Americans who use cannabis is increasing as more states legalize it, becoming the fastest-growing consumer group. A latest report reveals that seniors are far outpacing teen use.
A study from the Centers for Disease Control showed that those who said they’d used cannabis in the prior month grew 455 percent among those aged 55 to 64, and 333 percent for those 65 and over. It dropped 10 percent for 12-to-17-year-olds during the same period.
Why? That question hasn’t been asked definitively or measured scientifically. Marijuana’s state-by-state regulation and outright illegality under federal law hinder comprehensive studies. But in a survey of the current science on the matter point out some of the possible answers.
Attitudes and legality
Baby boomers, still the country’s largest generation and a group who has had a long relationship with cannabis, is aging. The group never put much of a stigma on use to begin with. Many boomers who experimented with marijuana in their younger years stopped the habit when raising families. But empty-nesters are reuniting with cannabis as legalization spreads across the nation.
For some seniors looking for anti aging solutions, science doesn’t seem to have kept pace with the kind of maladies Americans living to ever-longer lifespans face. Three major reasons cited for cannabis consumption include sleep, anxiety and chronic pain. In fact, cannabis has been found to be an effective substitute for opioids for many patients dealing with intractable pain.
Medical Cannabis for Anti Aging
A 2018 European study found that “After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported.”
Sleep disorders are a problem for older adults — 39 percent reported waking too much during the night. More and more older Americans find cannabis is an effective remedy for sleep apnea and other related issues.
The National Council for Aging Care says marijuana can be beneficial to those suffering anxiety and other mental health issues primarily because of CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. These studies are limited because as a Schedule I drug under federal law, cannabis is deemed to have no medical use. There needs to be more science applied to the topic, of course, and the group is open to it.
“Although older adults may be a bit wary about marijuana, the majority support more research on it,” Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP said after a survey of older Americans’ medical cannabis attitudes. “This openness to more research likely speaks to a desire to find safe, alternative treatments to control pain.”
The Retail Experience
Another reason cited in several reports is that, along with the stigma of using cannabis, the danger in obtaining it is going away. Greenlight Approved retail partners are trained to assist new potential users. The mystery of purchasing and consuming marijuana is drifting away.
The one thing current science is fairly clear about: Cannabis is relatively benign. “How many people have died of marijuana overdoses in 50 years?” asked a surgeon who began consuming cannabis after breaking a hip asked Healthline for an article on seniors. “Zero.”