While just 9 percent of Americans aged 50-64 were experimenting with weed back in 1985, a recent poll showed that nearly five times that amount, 44 percent to be exact, were smoking up. On top of that, use in seniors age 65 and over has nearly tripled in that time, going from 6 percent to 17 percent. So besides easier access to the stuff, what’s causing this spike of marijuana-use among older folks?
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If mom and dad have been acting kind of “funny” lately, we may have just figured out the reason why. While most anti-marijuana advocates argued that the drug’s legalization would lead to an increase in use among young people, a recent Gallup poll shows that the largest increase has actually come in the 50-64 year old age group.
Compared to what they may have been toking on “back in the day,” the sheer quality of weed available today has increased exponentially. Thanks to better technology and the semi-legalization of marijuana throughout 20 states, growers are now more informed and well practiced than ever before. There are hybrid strains of marijuana so complex that the seller can literally tell you beforehand what “kind of high” it will get you. That’s a big leap forward from the harsh, seed-riddled ditch weed a lot of these folks were hitting back in the 70s.
One of the great perks of getting older is you’re no longer haunted by the pressures and possibilities of the life that lay before you. With the statistical majority of their years behind them, older people are more often free to enjoy the relaxation and decreased anxiety that comes with overall stability. And what goes better with relaxation and low anxiety than a little bud? Plus, anti-drug PSAs that say smoking a few joints is “throwing your life away” aren’t really going to resonate in people who’ve already lived most of their lives.
Before you get offended older folks, this isn’t to say that you’re smoking marijuana to avoid the crippling loneliness that fills your days now that the kids have moved away. Quite the opposite actually, we assume you’re probably celebrating. With no more kids around, parents no longer have to worry about what will happen if junior finds Dad’s “special cookies.” Finally freed from the shackles of having their dependants constantly there to harsh their buzz, maybe older people are smoking up more simply because they finally can.
They say that smoking marijuana can have adverse affects on one’s memory. You know what else messes with your memory? Being on the planet for a while. One of the unfortunate side effects of getting on in years is that your memory inevitably starts to slip, so it seems that if you’re going to forget where you put your keys anyway, you might as well enjoy yourself while you look for them. Or, you can scrap looking for them altogether and just stay in and watch 7 hours of old Starsky and Hutch reruns. Yeah, that’s definitely the right move.
So why are older people smoking more weed? Why not? Maybe that’s the best answer. Following their retirement and the departure of their kids, older people are faced with the blissful problem of suddenly having more free time on their hands than they’ve had in several decades, and there’s nothing like sparking a doobie to help pass the time. And while a few quiet puffs each day is easy to hide and likely won’t garner much judgment, passing your time with whiskey might land in you in an impromptu meeting that starts with “Grandpa, first off we just want to say we’re all here because we love you…”