Medical Marijuana Use is Rising Amongst Older Americans

Researchers examined roughly three years of survey data—studying 171,507 adults aged 55 or over—and found that males from ages 60 to 64 demonstrated the highest rates of marijuana use.


A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that the cannabis usage rate for baby boomers in the US has risen considerably over the last several years.

The rate of medical marijuana use amongst older adults was found to have increased across all US states—regardless of whether or not cannabis had been legalized—indicating that a significant shift in public opinion’s has taken place.

It seems that something has happened to America’s marijuana use as a whole. We’ve seen an uptick in people 50 and over coming in. Our colleague from Canada was thinking about the use of cannabis in nursing homes, as that has gone up.

There is very little evidence base on how marijuana interacts with a lot of the medications used in that population. University of Massachusetts Medical School, Bill Jesdale

The researchers examined roughly three years of survey data—studying 171,507 adults aged 55 or over—and found that males from ages 60 to 64 demonstrated the highest rates of cannabis use.

Over the same period, cannabis usage among males in the 65-69 cohort almost doubled, while a similar spike was also observed in men aged 70 to 74.

However, the survey data offered no definitive explanation for why more baby boomers have begun using cannabis, although it did suggest several potential explanations, including increased availability, reduced social stigma and growing awareness of the drug’s therapeutic uses.

The researchers also noted that an increasing number of studies have shown that older individuals in the US are increasingly turning to cannabis to help manage their pain, anxiety and sleeping issues.


According to the study authors, one of the reasons they embarked on this project was out of concern that older Americans may be experiencing a different side effect profile than their younger counterparts.

In particular, the researchers were concerned by the possibility that cannabis may have a potentially negative interaction when combined with certain medications. This was spurred in part by a review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in January this year, which noted that cannabis can interact with certain heart medications.

The report also suggested that the drug interaction can lead to dizziness, confusion, and an increased risk of falling in older Americans, although it did not specify if the mechanism of action is produced by cannabis or the patient’s heart medication.