A new study that gauged the increased use of cannabis among adults over the age of 50, confirms that cannabis use is on the rise and that aging cannaphobia is few and far between.
Boomers are known to being on both sides of the cannabis coin. The baby boomer generation includes the flower power generation in addition to putting out some of America’s most conservative and restrictive ideals.
Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, is a geriatrician and health services researcher at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) and in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Given the unprecedented aging of the U.S. population, we are facing a never before seen cohort of older adults who use recreational drugs,” stated Han. “With the increased availability of legalized marijuana, there is an urgent need to understand the prevalence of its use and also its effects among older generations. The paucity of knowledge in this area constrains the care for a changing demographic of older adults with higher rates of substance use.”
Dr. Han and his team looked at 47,140 adults aged 50 and older in the United States using a second analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2006 to 2013. The latter study analyzes national data of tobacco, alcohol and all other drugs combined. Notably, the prevalence of cannabis use among adults over 65 increased two and a half times over the last eight years.
According to research results baby boomers outpace teens when it comes to overall drug use.
Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH pointed out the misconceptions that surround this generation. “Typically, we think of older generations as drug-adverse and perceiving most drugs to be risky,” explained Dr. Palamar. “But apparently very few Baby Boomer users consider marijuana use risky. But after all, this was the generation who was there, in the late 1960s, when the counterculture revolution exploded marijuana into mainstream popularity.”
Marijuana use can be used to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.
Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the National Eye Institute: “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.”
According to a recent study published in Clinical Neuropharmacology, participants using smoked medical cannabis had significant improvements in motor disability and impairment. These results were found in addition to reported decreases in tremor (repetitive shaking), rigidity (stiffness or inflexibility), and dyskinesia (difficulty in performing voluntary movements), and improvements in pain and sleep disturbance.
Both glaucoma and Parkinson’s are health concerns that the over 50 population faces. Utilizing medicinal and recreational marijuana is on track to be the medication of the future.