A new study, published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoids Research journal, found more older Americans are using cannabis today than before the pandemic. According to researchers with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, roughly 1 in 8 Americans over 50 currently use the substance.
“As the stress of the pandemic and the increased legalization of cannabis by states converged, our findings suggest cannabis use increased among older adults nationally,” addiction psychologist and study lead Anne Fernandez told the University of Michigan.
“Older adults represent a vulnerable age group for cannabis use due to interactions with medications, risky driving, cannabis-related mental health impacts and increased possibility of falls and memory issues.”
To determine how many older adults are currently using cannabis, compared to years passed, researchers analyzed data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, a poll funded by AARP and Michigan Medicine.
The poll was taken in January 2021 and featured 2,023 older adults. While roughly 12% of older adults in the study said they used cannabis within the past year, only 9.5% used the substance in 2019.
“Other research has shown that using both alcohol and cannabis increases the chance that a person will drive while impaired,” Fernandez said. “They are also more likely to have physical and mental health issues, including substance use disorders. Screening for alcohol use, cannabis use, and other drug use could help more people get counseling and reduce their risk and risk to others.”
Among those who said they have used cannabis within the past year, 34% said they used the substance four or more days a week.
Some older adults were also found to be more likely to use cannabis than others. Those who consumed alcohol were found to be more likely to use the substance, as well as unmarried/unpartnered and unemployed respondents.
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