As more states pass laws legalizing marijuana, the use of the potent psychoactive drug is unsurprisingly increasing. But the numbers are going up fastest among a demographic that might surprise you.
According to the data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, more than a third of Americans 65 years of age and older report having recently tried marijuana.
While people who report having used marijuana has increased in all age groups, it is the older demographic that has seen the biggest swing, according to the Washington Post.
The data seems to show that pot use grew from about 12 percent in 2009 to about 35 percent today. The only other age group that had a wide swing was the 40 to 49 age group which grew more than ten percent.
“Almost every age group is becoming better acquainted with cannabis, but the increase hits differently at the older end of the spectrum. Marijuana use was almost nonexistent among that crowd a decade ago, when just 1 percent of folks over age 65 reported having smoked or otherwise consumed marijuana in the past month. That has now quintupled to 5 percent,” the outlet reported on July 14.
The federal data also seems to show that baby boomers went from the larger share of pot users in the 1980s, to lower percentages through the 90s and early 2000s, but by 2015, as the generation aged, it was back up to around 30 percent. And the rate hit 33 percent by 2020.
One researcher suggested that misleading advertising and word of mouth about the purported “benefits” of pot use have also featured strongly in the amped up data among older Americans.
“There’s been a lot of leeway … for the cannabis industry to market cannabis as being a great thing to use for sleep problems, for pain, for anxiety, for all these things,” Columbia University epidemiologist Deborah Hasin told the Washington Post. “This could affect the older group, who are affected more by some of these medical issues than younger people.”
Hasin also warned the paper the increased use of pot also brings health risks, including sedation, confusion, and addiction. Hasin said that one in five people become addicted to pot with regular sue. The addiction is just like any other drug and results in “withdrawal and cravings and interference with people’s activities.”
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As more states pass laws of legalizing pot to one extent or another, Hasin said that addiction, among other problems, has also increased.
This is not good news for America, and especially for these older folks getting hooked on this drug.
Last year, for instance, a doctor at San Diego’s Scripps Mercy Hospital said that his ER is seeing two cases of serious complications from pot use ever shift whereas in the 1990s he rarely saw any.
“The whole world is telling them it’s safe,” Dr. Roneet Lev added. “People are in unbelievable denial.”
And a doctor in Colorado said that the sees 20 cases of pot-induced psychoses for every one amphetamine-induced psychosis.
The problems with this widespread legalization and pot use is not just impacting adults. ERs all across the country are seeing a huge uptick in children being sickened by eating pot-infused candies and baked goods left lying around by irresponsible adults. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data that showed that ER visits among Americans under 25 is soaring, but for young children it is a serous problem.
“The study found that children between the ages of 11 and 14 accounted for an average of 184 weekly emergency room visits across the nation due to cannabis-related issues. Additionally, children under the age of 10 made an average of 57 weekly visits in 2022,” The Oaklahoman reported on July 18.
Drug use other than pot is generally increasing, too. According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans are increasingly medicated, especially those in older demographics.
“Older adults are also more likely than their younger counterparts to be taking multiple prescription medications. More than half of adults 65 and older (54%) report taking four or more prescription drugs compared to one-third of adults 50-64 years old (32%) and about one in ten adults 30-49 (13%) or 18-29 (7%),” KFF, an independent outlet focused on health policy, reported.
The increased use of pot among those 65 and older, just as they are beginning larger regimens of other, often life-sustaining drugs, has the potential to be a dangerous mix.
And with states increasingly easing restrictions on pot and many advocates claiming that pot is “harmless,” it seem likely that elderly patients are not telling their doctors of their pot use, meaning any potential conflicts would go unaddressed until it is perhaps too late.
Increased drug consumption, in general, is bad. An excessive dependence on drugs is very bad. Increasing the likelihood of mixing drugs is worse yet.
This is all bad for older Americans. Thanks to this deceptive advertising, older Americans who may already be on a fixed income are all too often wasting their limited funds on pot. In short, the widespread increase in use of marijuana is becoming a problem that is not making life better for Americans.
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