Lately, when I’ve attended concerts that tend to attract baby boomers, such as Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, I’ve noticed a great deal of boomers light up joints.
Turns out that’s no coincidence.
According to a recent report in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, more baby boomers are using weed and other cannabis products.
Nine percent of individuals aged 50 to 64 said they have used marijuana in the last year, doubling in the past decade, while three percent of those over 65 have done so, the research found.
Perhaps that is not a huge surprise, because the baby boomer generation has had more experience than other generations with marijuana, which surged in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. More than half (almost 55%) of middle-age adults have used marijuana at some point in their lives, while more than a fifth (about 22 percent ) of older adults have done so, according to the study.
Individuals who used marijuana as adolescents were more likely to state they were still fans of this herb, the group at New York University found.
What accounts for marijuana’s big comeback with the older crowd?
Certainly, the stigma of using marijuana has decreased. That appears to have changed lately with some boomers contemplating it cool to act like teenagers again and claiming the title, pothead, with pride, as if smoking marijuana was some kind of accomplishment.
Access has been made easier with the legalization of marijuana for medical use in 29 states and D.C. and for recreational use in eight states and D.C., including here in California where I live. Pot farms are springing up everywhere including one of the neighboring desert cities, Desert Hot Springs, which has been nicknamed Desert Pot Springs.
Some baby boomers use marijuana to ease aching joints or other disorders or to help them sleep.
Whatever the reasons for boomers lighting up, beware, there are some definite drawbacks. The survey indicated that consumers believe marijuana is harmless. However, the researchers were quick to point out that’s clearly not true.
“Acute adverse effects of marijuana use can include anxiety, dry mouth, tachycardia (racing heart rate), high blood pressure, palpitations, wheezing, confusion, and nausea,” they cautioned. “Chronic use can result in chronic respiratory conditions, depression, impaired memory, and decreased bone density.”
Marijuana users were also more likely to misuse prescription drugs such as opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers compared to their peers.
Mixing substances is particularly dangerous for older adults with chronic diseases, the group advised. Marijuana can intensify symptoms and interact with prescribed medications.
In fact, physicians should ask older patients about whether they use marijuana because it can interact with prescription medications, the group recommended, and it can point to substance abuse issues.
In other words, baby boomers would be wise to find true bliss in healthy ways.