Recent research findings indicate a growing trend of cannabis use among older Americans. A University of Michigan study, which used data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, revealed that 12.1% of individuals aged 50 to 80 years of age in the United States reported using marijuana within the past year.
According to the researchers, among those who acknowledged marijuana use, 34.2% reported using it at least four days a week. The study also revealed that during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one in ten adults in that same age range turned to marijuana, with many adopting a regular usage pattern.
The researchers stress the importance of ongoing monitoring by clinicians and policymakers as marijuana accessibility expands nationally, particularly focusing on potential risks for older adults.
The study also observed that marijuana use was less prevalent among individuals identifying as Hispanic or belonging to “other” racial categories compared to non-Hispanic white respondents. Despite this, cannabis has gained popularity among older individuals seeking relief from chronic pain and various age-related ailments.
NORML deputy director Paul Armentano commented on the survey results, noting that it is not surprising that an increasing percentage of older adults view marijuana as a viable option. Many older individuals contend with issues such as restless sleep, anxiety and pain, all conditions that are often alleviated by marijuana products. Armentano highlighted the awareness among older adults regarding the serious adverse effects linked to prescription drugs, such as sleeping aids and opioids, positioning medical marijuana as a practical and potentially safer alternative.
Additional survey data aligns with this growing trend. A report by the Hill earlier this year highlighted a significant increase in cannabis usage among Americans aged over 65, nearly tripling from 11% in 2009 to 32% in 2019. The report also noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on survey methodology and results.
Gallup corroborated these findings, revealing that 50% of Americans have tried cannabis at some point. This represents a gradual increase over the past 25 years, with 17% reporting current marijuana use. The proportion of Americans admitting to smoking marijuana has more than doubled since 2013, reaching 49% in 2021. Gallup’s historical trends highlight a substantial increase in public support for marijuana legalization, growing from 12% in 1969 to an impressive 68% today.
In essence, these research findings indicate a shifting landscape of marijuana use, especially among older Americans, driven by a growing acceptance of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. These are trends that major players in the marijuana industry such as Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) (TSX: CRON) may be watching closely because seniors can be a stable market segment to target.
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