While marijuana use among young people has remained steady, it’s up among American seniors, according to a new analysis.
Doctors Joseph J. Palamar and Benjamin Han surveyed 14,896 people and found that among Americans 65 and older, 4.2% reported using cannabis, up from 2.4% in 2015.
The study’s authors said the increase probably has little to do with legalization. Instead, people hear about marijuana’s potential medical uses and want to try it.
They’re also doubtful that these seniors are trying marijuana for the first time.
However, it appears the increase in cannabis use is driven largely by those who do not have multiple chronic medical conditions, the study found.
Palamar is an associate professor of population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Han is with the New York University School of Medicine. Their research was published earlier this week in Jama Internal Medicine.
“There were significant increases among women, individuals of white and nonwhite races/ethnicities, individuals with a college education, individuals with incomes of $20 000 to $49 000 and $75 000 or greater, and married individuals,” their study found.
Possible health benefits
Cannabis use among older adults with diabetes jumped by 180% between 2015 to 2018, 96% among those with other chronic diseases, and 150% among those receiving mental health treatment.
Palamar cautioned older adults that it might not be the reefer they remember. It’s likely stronger, and your body also isn’t the same, Palamar told United Press International.
Colorado kids remain steady
As for teenagers, the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found youth marijuana use remains at one in five, the same as it was in 2013. That’s also the national average.
Availability may have changed since legalization, but youth attitudes in Colorado have not, according to the study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The latest statewide Healthy Kids Survey shows about half of the youth surveyed said marijuana is risky. They said felt it was easy to get but a mistake for underage youth to use it.
Marijuana remains illegal in Colorado for those under age 21.
Youth responded that they think four of five of their peers use marijuana. The Healthy Kids Survey found that only one in five actually do.
Young people who have trusted adults in their lives are less likely to use marijuana. According to the Healthy Kids Survey, youth who know their parents think underage use is wrong are 72 percent less likely to use marijuana. Youth with caring teachers are 28 percent less likely to use, and those who feel they have an adult to go to for help with a problem were 30 percent less likely to use.