The fastest growing demographic of cannabis users in America is adults 55 or older, according to a report from CBS News. Using data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), CBS found that the number of marijuana users aged 55 or older jumped from 2,812,000 in 2013 to 4,309,000 in 2014.
Older Americans might be trying marijuana as a healthier alternative to prescription opioids. Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the University of California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, told CBS that his research shows marijuana is safer than other prescriptions for chronic pain and other ailments.
"It's certainly true that cannabis and THC have a much better safety profile than the opioid drugs. And are less physiologically addicting," said Dr. Grant. "So they're safer. That doesn't mean they're completely safe. Nothing is completely safe. There's no panacea here."
Many seniors think that cannabis is worth the risk. "You have to learn - like all medications - how to use it," said Eva Aguilera, an 80-year-old resident of California. "Every medication has a risk. I've made my choice."
But it's a choice that not every senior can make because so many of their peers remain opposed to cannabis. Steve DeAngelo - a longtime cannabis advocate and entrepreneur - told CBS, "There's an ironic - almost tragic - phenomenon, which is that seniors, who are one of the groups who could most benefit from using cannabis, are the single group that remains most opposed to reforming cannabis laws."
So if seniors want to help each other enjoy their golden years, they should turn on, tune in and drop by the dispensary to learn more about marijuana's therapeutic uses.
Check out the full report here.