Study finds pot use increasing in older generations
By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent
The legalization of marijuana in the state of Washington is still something of a new frontier. One interesting note on the budding industry is the fact that the baby boomer generation has increased their pot usage considerably in the past decade.
According to a recent study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, usage by adults 50 and up went from 4.5 percent a decade ago to 7.1 percent. This was based on over 45,000 responses to a survey by the NSDRUH.
“Probably the majority of my customers are over the age of 45,” said Ericka Church, store owner of Blowin’ Smoke in Chewelah. “A lot of people are combating arthritis, chronic pain, back pain and other ailments that need relief.”
The number of marijuana users aged 50 to 64 years old increased by 57.8 percent while the age group of 65 and up have seen their marijuana usage increase by 250 percent.
Along with selling recreational marijuana, Blowin’ Smoke, located just north of Chewelah, also has a medical endorsement. This helps customers get a 7.6 percent tax cut and people with medical issues are allowed to carry a higher amount of marijuana than those using it recreationally. The staff at the store help customers with choosing the proper strains for their medical conditions and the best way to ingest them.
Non-smoking products have been a huge seller for those hoping to get the medical benefits of marijuana but without the smoke. Marijuana being consumed via a liquid dropper has been a huge seller for Blowin’ Smoke. Other products include edibles, hard candy and topical creams for aches and pains.
“A lot don’t like to smoke because they have lung or breathing issues,” Church said. “I do think a lot more people are realizing they don’t want to take pharmaceuticals and can go a more natural route.”
Church added she likes how perceptions are changing for marijuana being more of a natural treatment. According to a report by IBISWorld, the pot industry is expected to grow by 30 percent in the next five years and boomers are helping it grow.
“This is why I wanted to go into this industry is to try and help people,” Church said.
Older people are still less likely to use pot compared to younger people. In a 2013 survey, 4.8 percent of boomers used marijuana while 19 percent of people 18 to 25 say they used it.
According to an AP article in December of 2016, the US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that pot can be helpful for treating certain ailments but that the research on it is preliminary. Federal law states that marijuana is a drug with no medical use.
Researchers at New York University also said pot could pose health challenges – such as memory loss to risk of falling – adding that there is not enough information existing on how pot affects older users since the bulk of research has been done on how the drug impacts developing brains.
In 2012, Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.