NEW YORK — Nearly 1 in 10 baby boomers say they’ve used marijuana in the past year, research shows, a notable jump from data reported a decade ago that points to wider acceptance of pot among older adults as legalization continues to widen.
The study by researchers at New York University found that nine percent of American adults between the ages of 50 and 64, and three percent of adults 65 or older have used marijuana at least once over the prior 12 months. The new percentages were taken from data collected in 2015 and 2016, and show a large increase in both age groups. In 2006-2007, just 4.5 percent of adults aged 50-64 and only 0.4 percent of those older than 65 reported using marijuana.
Researchers point to changing attitudes towards marijuana in the U.S., and growing number of states legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. Even though marijuana users tend to be younger adults, the baby boomer generation has more experience with recreational drugs than previous generations.
“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. 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,” says lead author Dr. Benjamin Han, assistant professor of Geriatrics in the NYU Department of Medicine, in a university release.
The authors used data from the 2015-16 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which collected responses from 17,608 adults aged 50 years or older. They found that 54.5 percent of baby boomers have used marijuana at some point in their lives, compared to 22.4 percent of adults 65 and older.
Despite the greater acceptance of marijuana, the study also showed adults who used pot were more likely to report alcohol use disorder, nicotine dependence, cocaine use, and improper consumption of prescription medications.
The study was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.