According to recent data, seniors are one of the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers. Is this trend a result of an increasing acceptance and awareness of the therapeutic benefits offered by marijuana among older generations? Despite this positive development, numerous initiatives and hurdles must be overcome to effect meaningful change when it comes to cannabis for seniors.
For starters, many of the seniors who are actually willing to give cannabis a try have been indoctrinated with reefer madness through most, if not all, of their lives. This could possibly make it more difficult for some of them to understand and accept the research-backed therapeutic benefits that marijuana offers. In addition, older generations may also be wary of experiencing unfamiliar side effects or being judged by their peers for consuming cannabis.
However, the fact that this much headway is being made with a previously super pro-pharma generation of people shows the actual progress that cannabis is making. It also proves that seniors are rapidly becoming an essential voice in the national conversation about marijuana legalization. With more research and education about its therapeutic benefits, even more, older Americans will likely join this growing number of cannabis consumers.
How Did This Happen?
In the past, cannabis was widely viewed as a dangerous and even deadly drug with little to no medicinal value. This so-called reefer madness perception of marijuana is one of the primary reasons why older generations have taken so long to accept its therapeutic benefits. However, in recent years, there has been a shift in public opinion. According to an article published by The Hill and research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “The share of over-65 Americans who have used marijuana nearly tripled in a decade, from 11 percent in 2009 to 32 percent in 2019, according to a respected federal survey on drug use. More than half of the 60-64 demographic reported cannabis use, another sharp increase.” This could be because extensive research and advocacy by medical professionals have helped break down this stigma.
Other factors contributing to the senior acceptance of cannabis could include:
- Changes in federal and state laws.
- The availability of products specifically designed for older consumers.
- The increasing use of CBD-infused products by athletes and celebrities is viewed favorably by seniors.
Additionally, the fact that more seniors are becoming aware of their access to medical marijuana has been instrumental in increasing the number of cannabis users among older generations.
Current State of Legalization and Opportunities for Growth
Currently, marijuana is legal in some form in all but three states: Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas. Most other states either allow for the use of medical marijuana or have legalized recreational use as well. However, there are still numerous challenges facing cannabis reform at both the federal and state levels that could potentially limit the growth of marijuana consumption among seniors.
In addition to the legal issues, a number of cultural and educational barriers need to be addressed. For instance, many seniors may not even be aware of the therapeutic benefits associated with cannabis or how to access it legally. For marijuana reform to continue progressing among older generations, advocates must focus on educating seniors about its medicinal properties and providing guidance on how to access it safely.
The good news is that, as more and more seniors become aware of the potential benefits of marijuana, their opinion on the issue has started to shift significantly in favor of legalization. This is evidenced by the increasing acceptance of cannabis among older generations and its growing popularity as a therapeutic option for seniors looking for natural pain relief or treatment for other health issues. With more education and research, the expansion of marijuana for medicinal use will likely continue among seniors in the coming years.