Why More Seniors Are Smoking Pot Than Ever Before

Israel Pioneers Use Of Medical Marijuana

Marijuana isn’t just for high school and college students anymore. New data shows that senior citizens are using weed at rapidly increasing rates and could soon become the pot-smoking generation of America.

The latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that regular marijuana use among those between ages 55 and 64 is up by 455% since 2002, while use among seniors over age 65 jumped 333% during that same period. After finding it difficult to manage their symptoms from chronic illness or pain due to the harsh side effects of prescription medications they’ve been given by their doctors, LA Weekly reported that many older Americans are turning to marijuana as alternative medicine.

“A lot of our patients what to try an alternative medicine that is going to treat their pain but not interfere with their daily lives,” said Lucas, who co-founded Green Soldiers Healers Collective in Los Angeles with his mother, Denise. She added that “sometimes there is resistance because they feel [cannabis] is a drug, but then we break down the prescription medications they’re already taking and they realize how toxic those can be.”

The mother-son duo have noticed an increasing trend in first-time senior citizen customers who have plenty of concerns and questions about marijuana. They test edibles for sugar levels to help ease concerns from older patients who suffer from diabetes. For elderly or frail patients who can’t run the risk of falling or passing out as a result of being high, they typically recommend cannabidiol products such as topical treatment.

But when dealing with a generation that was largely taught to follow doctors orders, it can be difficult to get them to ask questions and become an active participant in their care. To help address this, Denise started a meet-up group for seniors in Southern California who are interested in exploring cannabis. Although in-person attendees are still sparse, more than 100 people have joined the online group.

“They’re not used to talking about their cannabis use,” she admitted. “We’re still very much in the gray when it comes to medical marijuana, but slowly more people are coming into the light.”

In Florida, seniors are the biggest advocates for legal medical marijuana. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in the spring of 2014 found 84% of Florida seniors supported the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, known as Amendment 2.