New research shows more senior citizens are smoking pot.
A study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests that increasing numbers of middle-aged and older adults are now smoking marijuana. The data provided by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2015-16, nine percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 50 to 64 used marijuana in the previous year and about three percent of people over 65 used the drug in that time period. The 2013 survey reported that seven percent of middle-aged Americans used marijuana and only 1.4 percent of people over 65, indicating the rise in usage.
As laws surrounding marijuana use become more permissive across the country, more Americans seem to be giving the drug a try. Many doctors are giving their patients the go-ahead to use marijuana in treating pain, nausea, and spasticity. Dr. Joshua Briscoe, a palliative care physician at Duke University School of Medicine who studies medical marijuana use in the elderly states, “We prescribe substances that are far more dangerous than cannabinoids.” Briscoe cautions that marijuana should be used conservatively and not combined with other drugs – like opioids or alcohol – because the potency may be different, as well as the way the drug is metabolized. Marijuana usage is still tightly regulated by the federal government, so studies on its harms and benefits are sparse, but with further research, we will soon learn more.
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