Seniors Loving Weed Are Embracing Cannabis Faster Than Ever
Ah, the golden years – a time for adventure, reflection—and maybe a little rebellion? While we might tease Grandpa for being a stubborn old goat and being set in his ways, one thing’s for sure: Seniors love weed.
Most of our grandparents grew up in the 60s during the hippie movement, although in todays game, the stigma is fading fast. The numbers also don’t lie— cannabis use among those 65 and older has nearly tripled over a decade, going from 11% in 2009 to a whopping 32% in 2019, according to a federal survey reported by The Hill. That makes them the fastest-growing demographic of weed users today.
It’s okay—you can imagine Grandma with a tie-dye shirt and a joint in hand. If yours is like mine, she never stopped in the first place. But these days, most seniors aren’t chasing the nostalgia high. What’s bringing it back is the newfound appreciation for the potential therapeutic benefits cannabis can bring to the golden years.
Back in their day, legendary names like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley were inspired by weed— and grandpa was there, man. They remember that era of peace, love, and self-discovery. And now, with cannabis legalization becoming more widespread, they’re finding comfort and relief in a world that’s finally embracing the herb instead of telling them they’re evil for enjoying it.
Sure, the stigma is changing, but let’s remember the practical side of the story. A lot of people in the 65 and up club deal with the consequences of age, including aches, pains, insomnia, and a host of other health and mobility challenges.
Take Daniel, a 61-year-old Wisconsin farmer, for instance. He’s no stranger to hard work, but he’s also no stranger to the therapeutic power of cannabis. “There are many things that I would not do anymore if I didn’t have cannabis,” he shared with The Hill. “I wouldn’t do it because it hurts too much.” For him and countless others, cannabis isn’t just about getting high – it’s about getting by.
Here’s the fun twist: the line between “medical” and “recreational” is as thin as rolling paper. Many senior medical patients head to dispensaries to soothe achy joints and mellow out that chronic pain. As a bonus, that green medicine also comes with a pleasant buzz. Grandpa might find himself free from pain and high as a kite, allowing him to play enthusiastically with his grandkids. Grandma might find time to take a break from stress and start enjoying what she loves most as she transitions into her golden years. It’s like getting the best of both worlds and who wouldn’t want that?
This isn’t to say that everyone over 65 is just wilding out and embracing newfound freedoms. While they might be welcoming it to an extent, boomers aren’t the most frequent flyers compared to other age groups.
Stats from 2021 show about 5% of those over 54 and 10% of the 60-64 age group reported using cannabis in the past month. In comparison, a whopping 24% of young people aged 25 and under are giving it a go.
Now you have to remember that a lot of these people grew into adulthood at the peak of prohibition. Some of our wise elders could be keeping their newfound love a secret due to that lingering “just say no” stigma from yesteryears.
William Kerr, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Alcohol Research Group, knows the deal. “Since 2009, we’ve seen a big increase in cannabis use prevalence across all age groups, all demographic groups, with older people participating in that, kind of for the first time,” he explained to The Hill. Some might just be a little shy when it comes to admitting their weed habits on surveys.
A 2023 Gallup poll revealed that half of all Americans have tried cannabis. Compare that to 1999, when it was 34%, and a mere 4% back in the ’60s. It’s clear that times are changing, and society’s growing acceptance and legalization efforts are letting more people feel comfortable about getting high. It’s like the old song – times they are a-changin’, and it’s high time.
Younger people are still the trailblazers of the cannabis movement. Over 40% of the 19-30 age group are cozying up to cannabis. Many are in states where it’s completely legal, which drives home the idea that federal legalization could finally clear the smoke around weed.
Now, about the old heads who’ve seen a few more seasons than most presidential candidates – they’re taking their time to fully embrace the stuff. According to Pew Research Center, only 30% of Americans over 75 are on board with recreational marijuana. It’s a generational thing, harkening back to the “silent generation” born between 1928 and 1945. They grew up in a world where cannabis was taboo, and reserved only for the underbelly of society.
But even they’re warming up – 53% of those aged 65-74 are in favor of adult-use cannabis, aligning with the national average.
The point is change is inevitable, but it’s also a product of society’s evolution. The open-minded boomers who are embracing weed today have overcome hurdles, stereotypes, and even policy battles. From the highs of Woodstock to the reality of legalization, they’ve seen it all. And while they might be late bloomers in this green revolution, they’re proving that it’s never too late to find joy, relief, and a bit of adventure in the golden years.