Study: Over-55 Crowd Fastest-Growing Cannabis Users

When you picture a first-time marijuana user, who comes to mind? Probably a younger millenial or maybe even a Gen-Xer. marijuana2

As it turns out, that’s no longer accurate.

A recent report by CBS News revealed that seniors are actually the fastest-growing subgroup of cannabis users in the nation. In fact, between 2013 and 2014, the number of over-55 first-time marijuana users leaped from 2.8 million to 4.3 million – a jump of more than 53 percent. 

In California, where medical marijuana has been legal for more than 20 years, older folks are routinely turning more to marijuana than prescription painkillers to relieve the aches and pains that come with age.

Many understand that while any medication is going to have a set of risks and complications, those that accompany medical marijuana are far less severe than those that come along with powerful opioid prescriptions. With opioids, there is not only the high likelihood of addiction, but also the serious risk of overdose. Seniors currently comprise just 14 percent of the population, and yet they consume 30 percent of all prescription drugs. That includes those highly-addictive pain medications.

Pot is considered a much safer – and effective – alternative.

Steve DeAngelo, owner of Oakland’s Harborside dispensary – one of the largest in California – said it’s a kind of tragedy that on the whole, the senior generation is the one that right now could reap the most benefits from medical marijuana use and yet, it’s also the cohort that mounts the greatest opposition to marijuana reform nationally. Of course, that’s likely in large part due to the propaganda they grew up with, including anti-drug campaigns by the government and movies like, “Reefer Madness.”

The drug remains illegal for all purposes under federal law, and is still stuck with the “Schedule I” label (though the Obama administration has largely stopped prosecuting persons and companies acting within the parameters of state laws where the drug is legal). But that designation alone is enough to give many seniors pause. After all, if it was safe, why wouldn’t the government allow it? But of course as our L.A. marijuana lawyers know, the politics on this issue are complicated.

Almost half of all states in the country allow marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. In November, voters in more than a dozen states will be given the opportunity to join the growing movement.

Doctors say that while no drug is ever 100 percent completely safe, THC is far less dangerous than opioids and other powerful medications. Those interviewed by CBS said there are a number of age-related ailments for which marijuana is an ideal medicine. Those include:

  • Arthritis
  • Pain management
  • Insomnia

Preliminary evidence suggests that we may even be able to replace those dangerous opioid prescriptions with medical cannabis, or at least largely substitute it.

Seniors who do begin using the drug are generally cautioned to steer clear of edibles, as those can pack powerful doses right off the bat. By starting slow, and with low doses that aren’t mixed with alcohol or other drugs, seniors can maximize the benefits.

In Colorado, which allows recreational marijuana, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a senior himself, initially opposed the legislation. He later came to support it, and now says seniors who wish to unwind and relax but don’t want to use alcohol may find pot a more enjoyable alternative.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Seniors are filling their prescriptions – at a pot shop, May 19, 2016, CBS News

More Blog Entries:

Driver Allegedly High on Medical Marijuana Caused Crash Resulting in Trooper’s Death, June 1, 2016, California Marijuana Lawyer Blog