Seniors are increasingly passing the pipe. About 9% of US adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have used marijuana at least once during the survey year, while 3% of those over 65 have done so, new research finds.
For middle-age adults, the percentage of cannabis users has doubled over nearly a decade, according to the study. Older adults have seen a seven-fold increase in that period.
Though marijuana use is increasing among older Americans, "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.
"I don't think we need to worry about millions of older people trying weed for the first time," he said. "At least not yet."
"We found high rates of unhealthy substance use (tobacco, alcohol, prescription drug misuse) by middle-aged and older adults who use marijuana," Dr. Benjamin Han, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine, wrote in an email.
For example, the study shows that nearly 5% of middle-age marijuana users had alcohol use problems, 9% depended on nicotine, and 3.5% misused opioids; among older adults, 1.5% had alcohol use problems, 3.5% depended on nicotine, and 1.2% misused opioids.
In addition to opioids, past-year marijuana users were more likely to misuse sedatives and tranquilizers than their peers, according to the report.