Lately, when I have attended concerts that tend to attract baby boomers, such as Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, I’ve noticed a great deal of boomers lighting 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 marijuana and other cannabis products.
Nine percent of people aged 50 to 64 said they have used marijuana in the past year, doubling in the last ten years, while three percent of those over 65 have done so, the study found.
Perhaps that is not a huge surprise, since the baby boomer generation has had more experience than other generations with marijuana, which surged in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s. More than half (almost 55 percent ) of middle-age adults have used marijuana at some time 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 say they were still fans of the herb, the team at New York University found.
What accounts for marijuana’s big comeback with the older audience?
Surely, the stigma of using marijuana has diminished. That appears to have changed in recent years with some boomers considering it cool to act like teenagers again and claiming the name, 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 countries and D.C. and for recreational use in eight states and D.C., such as here in California where I live. Pot farms are springing up everywhere including among the neighboring desert towns, Desert Hot Springs, which has been nicknamed Desert Pot Springs.
Some baby boomers use marijuana to ease aching joints or other ailments or to help them sleep.
Whatever the reasons for boomers light up, beware, there are some definite pitfalls. The survey indicated that consumers believe marijuana is harmless. But the researchers were quick to point out that is 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 ailments, depression, impaired memory, and reduced bone density.”
Marijuana users were also more likely to abuse prescription drugs such as opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers than their peers.
Mixing substances is especially dangerous for older adults with chronic diseases, the group advised. Marijuana may intensify symptoms and interact with prescribed drugs.
In fact, physicians should ask older patients about whether they use marijuana as it can interact with prescription medications, the group recommended, and it can point to substance abuse issues.
To put it differently, baby boomers would be wise to find true bliss in healthy ways.