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Only 2% Of Americans Over 65 Use Marijuana

Douglas A. McIntyre

The boom in marijuana use which has come with legalization has not moved to older Americans. Only 2.1% of people over 65 use pot, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The pot industry may face a problem as middle-aged Americans reach the traditional retirement period of their lives.

The breakout of marijuana use by age group shows that, for the most part, the younger the person, the more likely he or she will use pot. The NSDUH reported:

As the baby boom generation has only recently begun to reach senior citizen status and as medical and recreational marijuana use is increasingly decriminalized across the country, the proportion of older adults using cannabis could continue to grow and approach rates currently observed in younger age groups, which as of the NSDUH of 2014, were 11.6% of those aged 35 to 49, 20.0% of those aged 26-34, and 31.9% of those aged 18-25.

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So, perhaps as middle-aged people become old, pot use among those over 65 will increase.

However, the data could show a potential problem for the recreational marijuana industry, if people do cut pot use as they age. Use of pot among the younger age groups may have hit a cap. And, who is to say that the 31.9% of people aged 18-25 who use pot will continue to consume at that level as they move into middle age?

There may be some hope for the pot industry, however, because the use of marijuana for medical problems could increase among the elderly. The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute of the University of Washington reports:

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 Along with aging come physical changes, including hearing impairment, vision changes, slowed reaction time, susceptibility to falls, and cognitive decline. Aging also entails the development of age-related health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and cancer. Two out of three older Americans have multiple chronic health conditions, which generally require multiple prescription medications, increasing the risk of adverse drug effects, which can further endanger their health. As cannabis is increasingly seen as benign and a safe adjunct or alternative treatment for age-related health problems, a rising number of older adults may be expected to turn to marijuana for medical in addition to recreational purposes.

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So, can medical use overcome the tendency of older Americans to shy away from pot use for recreational purposes?

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