While many parents may be concerned about drug use among their teenagers, a new study shows there might not be anything for them to worry about. In fact, the older generations are turning towards recreational marijuana use rather than their children and grandchildren.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report earlier this month that has studied nationwide marijuana use within the past 12 years. The result? A surprising trend that details how older generations are turning to marijuana use at a faster rate than ever before.
Overall, marijuana use among 12- to 17-year-olds actually fell 10% since 2002. Comparatively, middle-aged people between 45 and 55 saw an increase of 50% since 2002, and the statistics only increased from there. Baby boomers saw the most significant increase, those over 65 a whopping 333% increase within the years of the study.
Significant may be the wrong word. The generation between 55 and 64? Their percentage of growth increased by an astonishing 455%.
However, while the baby boomers may have the highest increase, the percentage of the demographic actually using marijuana is incomparable to that of teens. Only 6.1% of those 55 to 64 years and 1.3% of individuals 65 and higher actually report regular marijuana use.
Even still, if these trends continue, soon grandparents all over the nation will bypass their grandchildren in using marijuana, no matter what they are using it for.
The CDC believes that these perplexing trends could be the result of the increased legislation and decriminalization of marijuana. As of fall 2015, 23 states including Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use.
There are many reasons why baby boomers are choosing to take up recreational marijuana use later in life. Some of those reasons include having more disposable income and more free time, along with fewer responsibilities in the workplace. Plus, they use marijuana as a way to cope with the stresses of aging and pain relief. Considering the fact that a whopping 95% of health care costs for older Americans include those for chronic diseases, many baby boomers are utilizing marijuana as a cheaper, more natural method of self-treatment.
An additional study, completed by the University of Michigan, agree with these findings. Titled Monitoring the Future, this 40-year-old study found that 85% of adults in their 50s have used illegal drugs, including marijuana in their lifetimes.
The study also believes that increased use of the drug could be because of a decrease in the stigma surrounding marijuana.
“Despite medical and recreational marijuana legalization sweeping the country, researchers can’t draw a direct line to state laws, said lead investigator Lloyd Johnston to LA Weekly. “What we do know [is that] among young people, there’s quite a dramatic drop in the proportion of them who see heavy marijuana use as dangerous. That, in turn, has changed usage.”
But, this may not be good news for the health of those young marijuana users. The brain doesn’t fully stop developing until age 25, and marijuana can pose some serious health risks for those that use it.
So with the majority of the debate surrounding marijuana revolving on the negative impacts on the health of children, these studies show that our focus could be on their grandparents. While there have been numerous studies done concerning teens, there is little to no insight on the long term affects of the older generations.
One thing that is for sure is that the continued legalization of this drug will bring untold affects to Americans of all ages. For the results, though, we can only wait and see.