According to the latest findings from the 2018 General Social Survey—which examines Americans’ views on a variety of topics—senior citizens 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of people to support cannabis. It reaffirms what several other surveys have indicated, that senior citizens are warming up to cannabis.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said that they support cannabis legalization. Between 2006 and 2013, senior citizen cannabis consumption soared about 250 percent, and the demographic continues to increasingly embrace the plant.
“I would say the average age of our customers is around 60, maybe even a little older,” Kelty Richardson, a registered nurse with the Halos Health clinic in Boulder, Colorado, told the Associated Press. In order to accommodate senior citizens, Halos Health offers a “Cannabis 101” course—something that’s being seen sprouting up at cannabis businesses across the country.
Many doctors are hesitant to recommend medical cannabis to senior citizens because of its unproven effects on Alzheimer’s and other age-related disorders. It’s not entirely clear if the benefits outweigh the risks. Dr. Gary Small is professor of psychiatry and aging at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We know that cannabis can cause side effects, particularly in older people,” said Small. “They can get dizzy. It can even impair memory if the dose is too high or new ingredients are wrong. And dizziness can lead to falls, which can be quite serious.”
The generational divide that typically shapes how people perceive cannabis isn’t as wide as it once was. As CULTURE has reported in the past, multiple surveys and studies have suggested that senior citizens and Baby Boomers are turning to cannabis.
The new findings further suggest that cannabis is becoming less synonymous with youthful rebellion, and more associated with working mature adults. Senior citizens are tired of the addictive nature of opioids for the treatment of pain, inflammation and discomfort, and medical cannabis poses as a great replacement.