Marijuana Use by Adults and Seniors on the Rise
According to a recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, today's parents are smoking weed more often than their teenage kids do. Marijuana use among kids age 12 to 17 has fallen, while marijuana use among adults age 35 and up has sharply increased. With marijuana dispensary deals offering deals on ounces of buds, coupons for edibles, deals on concentrates, daily specials on marijuana and other incentives, older adults with more spending power have become one of the largest and most influential groups of marijuana consumers.
Since 2002, marijuana use by middle-aged adults in the 45 to 54 age group increased by 48%, while marijuana use by adults age 35 to 44 rose by 43%. These are pretty sharp increases, but they're nothing compared to the numbers of even older adults who are now using marijuana regularly. Marijuana use by seniors aged 65 and older increased by 333% over the past decade, while marijuana use by adults age 55 to 64 has increased by a whopping 455%. The one group who is using marijuana less often, however, is kids and teens. Only 7.4% of kids and teens age 12 to 17 reported that they use marijuana regularly, showing a 10% decrease in marijuana use compared to data collected ten years prior.
The report highlights the ways in which marijuana legalization is shaping our culture. In the “War on Drugs” era, more kids and teens were using marijuana. Now that parents and even grandparents are doing it, doctors are prescribing it, and national media outlets report on it daily, marijuana has lost much of the glamour it received from being something illicit and illegal, rebellious and “wrong” in the eyes of the parental units and society as a whole. Marijuana has become acceptable, recognized for its many potential benefits on both physical and mental health, as well as for its advantages over the far more dangerous and detrimental choice of alcohol for purposes of recreational relaxation. Opponents of marijuana legalization often tout their fears about legalization leading to increased marijuana use among youth, but the study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention proves these fears to be unfounded. It's a timeless truth that kids usually don't want to be like their parents, so if their parents are toking down, teens are less likely to see marijuana smoking as an appealing activity that's in any way cool or desirable. Stephen Colbert even did a skit about the phenomenon of parental marijuana use on a recent episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The skit featured a very normal-looking, middle aged Minnesota couple chilling out at home on the sofa. They're obviously stoned, bong in hand. Their teenage son walks in and they quickly stash the bong behind the throwpillow. The son accuses his mom and dad in a resigned and annoyed sort of way if they're smoking marijuana yet again, then he makes a comment about he doesn't use marijuana himself, but instead snorts adderall like a normal person.
Ideas about marijuana use are definitely changing, and parents are finding new ways to talk to their kids about drugs and marijuana use more honestly and openly than ever. With marijuana's benefits as a medicine widely recognized by the scientific and medical community, and medical marijuana dispensaries and recreational marijuana dispensaries a common feature in many communities in states like Colorado, no longer can parents pretend to their children that marijuana use is something criminal or extremely detrimental or dangerous, especially when they are using it themselves to relieve insomnia, back pain, anxiety, just to unwind, or for a number of other valid and logical reasons. If we don't want our kids to use marijuana, it makes sense to talk about it as honestly as possible, being genuine about the positive as well as the negative aspects of pot smoking. When marijuana is unfairly demonized, kids who try it and discover its real-life effects are much more likely to distrust any warnings they've received about other drugs which actually do pose very serious risks. Legalization has forced a more honest and open dialogue regarding marijuana use, which in turn is leading to fewer kids overall using marijuana for recreational purposes.
Marijuana has matured, both in terms of its users and in terms of the marijuana industry itself. With all the medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries such as Livwell, Medicine Man Denver, and MMJ America, plus all the cultivation facilities, research institutes, seed banks and more, the marijuana industry has become big business. Paired with an increasingly older demographic of marijuana users, marijuana is no longer kids stuff. It's ironic that where the War on Drugs failed, marijuana legalization has apparently succeeded. Putting marijuana into the hands of parents and grandparents and other older adults has been the unexpected key to keeping it out of the hands of youth.