More Older Americans Are Smoking Marijuana

Article byKeith Humphreys, Washington Post

More older Americans are smoking marijuana By Keith Humphreys

U.S. marijuana consumption is more prevalent today than during the conservative 1980s. Surges in drug use are often attributed to “kids these days,” but new research shows that the change has been driven not by stereotypical longhair youngsters but by the gray-haired and balding set.

Researchers William KerrCamillia Lui and Yu Ye integrated 30 years of survey data from over 40,000 participants who reported on whether they had used marijuana in the past 12 months. Only two age groups showed a significant rise in use. Compared with older Americans 30 years ago, Americans age 50 to 59 and 60 and older today are a remarkable 20 times more likely to use marijuana.

Even though marijuana use was consistently more prevalent among the young than the old throughout the 30 years that were studied, and the use rate of young adults has risen over the past decade, the use rate of people age 18 to 29 was about the same in 2015 (29.2 percent) as it was in 1984 (29.9 percent). This was also true of Americans age 30 to 39 (14.8 percent in 2015, 18.1 percent in 1984) and age 40 to 49 (11.7 percent in 2015, 9.6 percent in 1984).

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