A recent study published in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has indicated that the number of older adults using the plant has grown significantly over the past decade. With marijuana reform sweeping across the nation, more people are turning to the plant for its medicinal and recreational benefits. This appears to be a notable increase amongst adults aged 50 to 64 as well as older adults over 65. The survey looked at data collected from adults during 2016 and 2017. The number of people between the ages of 50 and 64 had increased to 9 percent while those over the age of 65 using the plant reached 3 percent. 5.7 percent of the subjects indicated that they had used marijuana within the last month.
A Marked Increase Since the 2013 Survey
The survey was also conducted in 2013 and, at that time, found that 7 percent of adults between 50 and 64 were using the substance and 1.4 percent of those over the age of 65 were using the plant. This shows a considerable increase in users and the number only seems to be growing as more states legalize the plant for medicinal purposes. Unlike older generations, however, teen use has not increased at all according to the survey.
The Appeal of Medical Cannabis
Many have begun to turn to the plant for its medicinal benefits. There are dozens of studies that indicate that marijuana is useful in the treatment of cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, dementia, chronic pain, arthritis, sleep disorders, glaucoma, epilepsy, autism, PTSD, brain injuries, digestive disorders, inflammation and degenerative diseases. As a result, more people, including older adults, are turning to the plant for all kinds of disorders and pain relief.
Restrictions on Marijuana Recommendations
Unfortunately, due to the fact that marijuana still remains illegal on a federal level, there is a highly limited amount of official government sanctioned research on the plant, its uses, benefits and potential side effects. As a result, doctors are somewhat restricted when it comes to recommending the plant. Dr. Benjamin Han, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, says of this issue that “I get asked a lot, more and more, by my population, ‘Hey, should I try marijuana for this? Should I try marijuana for that? It’s hard for me to know what to tell patients.”
A History With Cannabis
Nonetheless, according to the 2016 data, approximately a quarter of those over the age of 65 who were using marijuana stated that their doctor recommended that they do so. About 45 percent of those over the age of 65 started using marijuana over the age of 21. Marijuana is not new to baby boomers. “Most of these people are not first-time users,” said Joseph Palamar, senior study author and an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at New York University Langone Medical Center who examined the data from the study.
For many suffering with illness, the medication prescribed can have devastating side effects; a fact especially true of those on highly addictive and dangerous opioid based pain killers. This is one of the reasons medical cannabis has risen in popularity. For others, it may be a safer form of recreation. All researchers agree that more research is needed to establish definitive facts on the subject.