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Baby Boomers Smoking Reefer in Record Amounts

A new study shows that legalization has caused many former flower children to re-discover the flower.

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The Baby Boomer generation is finally getting back to the garden, although maybe not in the way that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had in mind.

Steve Smith | Getty Images

A new study has found that aging Americans, who were part of the counterculture movement in the 1960s that included the use of marijuana, are returning to cannabis in rising numbers.

Results from the New York University study show that the generation that advocated for legal marijuana in their youth are now taking advantage of legalization in their senior years.

Related: The Venerable Joint Has a Long History and a Bright Pre-Rolled Future

Flower Power

About 9 percent of those surveyed between the age of 50 and 64 said they used marijuana in the last year, which is double the number from 2006.

Among those 65 and older, 3 percent said they had done the same. That’s seven times the number from 2006 for that age group.

The study found those who had been fans of marijuana in their teens were more likely to try it again in their 50s and 60s. And there were plenty of them. Among those surveyed between 50 and 64, ninety-two percent reported that they had first tried marijuana when they were 21 or younger.

Baby Boomers are generally defined as those born in the post-World War II years, roughly between 1945 and 1964. More than 76 million people were born in the United States during those years. 

The researchers conducted the study by analyzing responses from 17,608 people age 50 or older who participated in a National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The researchers found that with a new era of changing attitudes toward marijuana, more Baby Boomers have decided to use cannabis legally. It’s not just for recreational use. Many are using medical marijuana to treat issues such as inflammation or chronic pain.

For example, 33 percent of those in the survey who are 65 or older said they used marijuana because it was recommended by a doctor. About 15 percent of those between 50 and 64 said the same.

Related: Is Canndescent Paving the Way For the Future of the Cannabis Industry?

Not All Good News

The study also found a correlation between the use of marijuana among Baby Boomers and the use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs, including opioids.

The NYU researchers recommended that before prescribing marijuana, doctors should first ensure that patients are not using any other prescription drugs. They also warn that older Americans should understand the potential side effects of marijuana that might impact them more significantly in older age, which include dry mouth, confusion, dizziness, high blood pressure, wheezing, and a racing heart rate (called tachycardia).

Side effects aside, legal cannabis is definitely on the shopping lists of many baby boomers. Entrepreneurs in the space would be wise not to ignore them. 

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