A recent study highlighted in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoids Research reveals an uptick in cannabis consumption among senior citizens in the United States post-pandemic. The research, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, indicates that approximately one in every eight Americans aged 50 and above now engages with cannabis.
"The overlapping circumstances of the pandemic's stress and the broader acceptance of cannabis through state legalization appear to have led to an increase in use among the senior population," explained Anne Fernandez, an addiction psychologist and the lead author of the study.
Fernandez also noted the particular risks associated with cannabis use in older adults, including potential drug interactions, impaired driving, mental health effects, and an enhanced risk of falls and memory problems.
The study's findings are based on an analysis of data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine. Conducted in January 2021, the survey gathered responses from 2,023 individuals over 50. According to the survey, 12% of respondents reported using cannabis in the past year, a rise from 9.5% in 2019.
"Evidence suggests that combining cannabis and alcohol use may increase the likelihood of impaired driving,"
Fernandez highlighted. She stressed the importance of screening for various substance use to facilitate counseling, ultimately reducing potential harm to the individuals and others. The study further found that 34% of past-year cannabis users engaged with the substance on four or more days a week.
Certain demographics within the older adult population were more inclined towards cannabis use, including those who consume alcohol, as well as those who are unmarried/unpartnered and unemployed.