Marijuana use almost doubled in three years among older adults (65+), according to a new study by researchers at New York University School of Medicine.
The percentage of older adults who use marijuana, however, is still relatively low. It rose to 4.2% in 2018. Almost 6% of older men compared with 3% of older women used marijuana, and those with more education and higher incomes were more likely to use it.
Researchers analyzed a national survey of nearly 15,000 adults.
The study found a marked increase in marijuana use among women, racial/ethnic minorities, those with higher incomes, and people with mental health problems. Older adults who used tobacco or alcohol had the highest rates of marijuana use, 10.2% and 6.3%, respectively.
The increase in cannabis use is not surprising, as older adults are more likely to suffer from chronic pain, sleep issues, joint inflammation and other issues that can be helped by cannabis, and typically with fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.
A Forbes article on trends for 2020 predicted that more seniors will partake in recreational marijuana as products quality and more controlled dosing options become available.
However, many older adults are not well informed about the benefits and risks of cannabis. One recent study, in which researchers interviewed seniors, found that barriers to using cannabis included a lack of education and research about cannabis, a lack of provider communication, poor access to medical cannabis, and a reluctance to discuss cannabis use with their doctors.