Baby boomers are smoking pot in record numbers, according to NPR, and they’re using a lot of it. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 to 2016 found that about 9 percent of American adults between ages 50 and 64 had used marijuana, while about 3 percent of those over 65 did the same.
But the data is self-reported, and experts believe the numbers are significantly higher.
Most of the boomers using marijuana are new to it, too; approximately 45 percent of the people over 65 who use it now never used it before the age of 21.
Why People Are Turning to Pot
Recreational use is becoming legal in more states, and so is medical use – and both are reasons people are using more marijuana now than before. Doctors are now more likely to suggest it as a treatment for a variety of ailments, including pain and chronic medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia and cancer.
“We prescribe substances that are far more dangerous than cannabinoids,” says Dr. Joshua Briscoe, a palliative care physician at Duke University School of Medicine. Briscoe studies medical marijuana use in the elderly.
Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so even though states can legalize it for recreational and medicinal use, users can still be busted by the feds.
And some churches are issuing statements about its use. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for example, said that recreational use of marijuana goes against the organization’s Word of Wisdom Health Code (but that if it’s been prescribed by a doctor, it’s okay).
What Do You Think?
On November 6, 2018, Wisconsin voters in 15 counties and two cities get to vote on marijuana legalization (Milwaukee and Waukesha are both on the list).
In Milwaukee, your question on the ballot will read, “Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?”
In Waukesha, your question on the ballot will read, “Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?”
The questions are intended to give lawmakers a good sense of how voters across the state feel about it for future policy decisions.