Congratulations are in order to baby boomers, who are rediscovering the joy of marijuana in later life.
According to new research published Monday in the journal JAMA, marijuana use among American seniors over the age of 65 doubled between 2015 and 2018, CNN reported. While back in 2006, a mere 0.4 percent of seniors over 65 reported using marijuana products in the past year, that percentage leapt up to 2.4 by 2015, only to double again by 2018, when 4.2 percent of seniors said they’d used marijuana in the past year.
According to the paper’s authors, much of this increased marijuana use among older adults may be attributed to a growing curiosity about marijuana’s medicinal uses. “What I’m seeing in my clinic are a lot of older adults who are very curious about cannabis to treat this or that chronic disease and symptoms,” Dr. Benjamin Han, an assistant professor of geriatric medicine and palliative care at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and one of the paper’s co-authors, told CNN.
However, the paper’s authors have added that marijuana use among aging adults could actually pose significant health risks. “As a geriatrician, I worry about any kind of prescribed medicine or substance use — anything that has any kind of psychoactive effects,” Han told CNN. “I worry about things like dizziness, falls. I worry how it may interact with certain medical conditions.”
Other health professionals have also pointed out the potential risks that could result from marijuana’s interaction with other drugs commonly prescribed to and used by members of the elderly population. Moreover, health experts have noted that many older adults returning to marijuana use after several decades may not be prepared for the ways the drug has changed since their first round of youthful experimentation back in the 20th century.
“Weed has been getting stronger over the past few decades,” study co-author Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told CNN. “A lot of these seniors don’t take dosing seriously, especially edibles. They think ‘What’s the big deal? I used to do this when I was a kid.’”
According to Palamar, however, today’s marijuana is “a very different situation.” Frankly, it’s not your father’s weed — but he’s using it anyway.
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