Number of senior stoners grows, but they're not first-timers

Friday, September 7, 2018

If you’re worried relaxing marijuana laws will lead to more use among youth, there’s probably good reason. Exposure to mind-altering drugs of any kind at a young age can have lifelong consequences.

Some of the biggest changes in recent years, however, have occurred at the other end of the spectrum, according to a New York University study.

Not to worry, however, any damage done to the senior stoners’ brains probably happened decades ago.

About 9 percent of American adults 50-64 used marijuana at least once during the survey year, while 3 percent over 65 did so.

Among middle-aged adults, the number of cannabis users doubled over nearly a decade, and older adults saw a seven-fold increase during the same time.

“Most of these people are not first-time users,” said Joseph Palamar, senior study author and associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU’s 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.”

Not surprisingly, marijuana wasn’t the only vice among the study group. Nearly 5 percent of middle-age marijuana users had alcohol use problems, 9 percent depended on nicotine and 3.5 percent misused opioids. Among older adults, 1.5 percent had alcohol use problems, 3.5 percent depended on nicotine and 1.2 percent misused opioids.

Marijuana users were more likely to misuse sedatives and tranquilizers than their peers, according to the report.

Whatever the age or chemical, substance abuse is a costly problem for society, through increased medical costs and the insurance or tax systems which pay them.

Those who misuse substances of any sort are looking for a means of escape, and real solutions can only come from dealing with the root causes.

That is where our energies should be directed, rather than attacking substance abuse through the court system.

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  • It would be easier to take this article seriously (and it should be taken seriously, the over 50 set is the fastest growing demographic of cannabis users), if the author had done even a smidgen of research about the topic. Had the author done that, they would KNOW that SCIENCE has proven that cannabis does not damage brain cells and in fact is a neuroprotectant. This is established fact and I would hope a publication such as yours would deal in fact instead of long debunked reefer madness propaganda. Sanjay Gupta has done 4 specials on the topics, plus all it takes is a few Google searches, there really is no excuse for such sloppy reporting. Don't take my word for it, here is a link to search results.


    -- Posted by CheriS on Fri, Sep 7, 2018, at 9:04 PM
  • Older people are addicted to all sorts of chemicals. I wonder why they seem to make a big thing of this.

    -- Posted by bob s on Sun, Sep 9, 2018, at 4:11 PM
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