Summary: Senior citizens have emerged as the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis users, reflecting a broader societal acceptance of marijuana and the aging of the baby boomer generation.
Cannabis: Not Just for the Young, Seniors Citizens Join the Trend
Seniors are rapidly becoming the leading demographic in cannabis consumption. From 2009 to 2019, the percentage of Americans over 65 who have used marijuana almost tripled, rising from 11% to 32%. In 2019, over half of those aged 60-64 reported using cannabis, marking a significant increase. By 2021, cannabis consumption among older adults reached 35%, although the pandemic might have influenced these figures.
This trend not only indicates a wider societal acceptance of marijuana, with 23 states now allowing its recreational use, but also highlights the generational shift with the aging baby boomers. For many older Americans, cannabis is less about recreation and more about therapeutic benefits such as sleep, pain relief, and relaxation. Daniel Uthe, a 61-year-old Wisconsin farmer, emphasized the importance of cannabis in managing pain, noting that without it, many activities would be too painful to undertake.
Despite the growing numbers, senior citizens still lag behind younger demographics in regular cannabis use. Only 5% of those over 65 and 10% of the 60-64 age group reported using marijuana in the past month in 2021, compared to 24% of adults aged 25 and under. However, the actual numbers might be higher, as some older users might be hesitant to admit their consumption in surveys.
The increasing acceptance of cannabis among senior citizens aligns them with the national trend. Recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that half or more adults in every age group have tried marijuana at least once. The Gallup poll also found that for the first time, half of Americans have tried marijuana.
Young adults, having grown up in a more cannabis-friendly environment, are at the forefront of this trend. Meanwhile, older generations, especially the silent generation (born between 1928 and 1945), have been more resistant to cannabis, having grown up before its widespread recreational use.
The senior citizens generation, however, has a different perspective. Many of them were young adults in the 1970s, a period marked by high marijuana use. With the advent of recreational dispensaries offering a more mainstream and accessible way to purchase cannabis, many baby boomers have returned to or started using cannabis. Dispensaries now cater to this older demographic, offering products that are more aligned with their needs, such as edibles, tinctures, and salves.
The cannabis industry has noticed that older users have distinct preferences. They tend to opt for set doses, prefer lower doses, and prioritize safety and potency. Despite economic challenges, seniors have remained consistent cannabis consumers, with their spending on cannabis products only dipping slightly compared to younger users.
Source: 420 Intel
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