More older Americans are using marijuana

Pristine Villarreal

The Leaf is a luxury marijuana dispensary located on El Paseo in Palm Desert where store supervisor Miguel Chable says the average age of customers might be a lot higher than you think.

“It’s a little bit closer between 40 and 70,” he said.

Chable said senior citizens are loading up on everything from marijuana edibles to CBD drinks and THC tinctures.

“We have definitely seen an increase in our older clientele buying more cannabis,” he said.

This rising number of older cannabis users in the Coachella Valley reflects what’s happening nationwide.

“Older adults have the highest rate of increase in cannabis use of any age group,” said Anne Fernandez, Ph.D., M.A., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.

Her team recently published a study showing more older Americans are using marijuana than ever before.

“In 2020, we were asking older adults 50 to 80 about their cannabis use in the past year,” Fernandez said. “And we found that 1 in 8 older adults did report using some cannabis products at some point during that year.”

Fernandez says that’s a rise from 3 percent in 2006 and 9 percent pre-pandemic, adding this surge is linked to several reasons.

“One of them is generational. So, the baby boomers who were more likely to use cannabis and have accepting attitudes of it are now in their older age,” she said. “And there’s also just rising cannabis use across all age groups.”

Fernandez added cannabis consumption does come with some concerns, saying this study also found that people who drank heavily were a lot more likely to use marijuana.

At the leaf, however, Chable says that’s not the case. Noting many older customers are using cannabis as an alternative to alcohol.

Moving forward with increased legalization and easier access to marijuana, experts predict the number of older Americans using cannabis will get even higher.

This story was written and reported by Kai Beech. 

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