As the fastest-growing demographic of first-time cannabis users, individuals over the age of 65 are making waves in the world of marijuana. Contrary to popular belief, many Baby Boomers argue that these recent statistics fail to capture the prevalence of cannabis use in their younger years. With the legalization of cannabis in Thailand, this trend is expected to continue, providing relief and newfound experiences for the elderly population.

During the post-World War II era, the Baby Boomers, a generation defined by 76 million births between 1946 and 1964, embarked on their journey into adulthood by exploring drugs as a rite of passage. Previous research suggests that nearly half of this generation experimented with illicit substances during their younger years, including marijuana. As Bryan Smith, a 69-year-old resident of Santa Barbara, California, reminisces, smoking marijuana was a common activity in the ’70s and ’80s, with little knowledge of dosage, potency, or source.

Recent surveys indicate that marijuana use among individuals over 65 has increased substantially, rising from 1.4% in 2012 to 7% in 2021. According to Dr. Smita Das, Chair of the Council on Addiction Psychiatry at the American Psychiatric Association, this surge in interest may stem from the fact that this age group experienced the peak of cannabis popularity during their youth when the perceived risks associated with its use were low. With the growing availability, marketing, and acceptance of cannabis, the allure of reconnecting with this nostalgic experience has become hard to resist for some elderly individuals.

While embracing marijuana may offer a multitude of therapeutic benefits for chronic medical conditions, it is crucial to acknowledge the potential risks involved. The current legal landscape has transformed cannabis from a stigmatized “drug” into an “alternative medical therapy,” providing relief for various ailments when traditional medicine falls short. However, it is important to remember that, despite being commonly associated with cannabis use, older consumers are not simply “stoners” or excessive users. As Smith emphasizes, moderation is a conscious choice made by seniors, prioritizing a healthier lifestyle.

Currently, the medicinal use of marijuana is permitted in 38 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia, while 23 states, two territories, and D.C. have enacted recreational use policies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. To accommodate different preferences and needs, cannabis consumption has evolved beyond smoking, with products such as edibles offering more regulated and controlled dosages. This evolution allows older adults to enjoy marijuana in a manner they perceive as healthier.

However, despite shifting attitudes and evolving regulations, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule 1 substance under federal guidelines, defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. This classification highlights the inconsistencies between federal and state laws, leading to confusion and limitations in research and development.

Furthermore, it is crucial to consider potential medication interactions, safety risks, and mental health impacts associated with cannabis use. Today’s cannabis products, compared to those used by the generation of the ’70s, are significantly higher in THC content and available in various forms. Dr. Das warns that this increased potency and diversity of cannabis products may have more far-reaching effects on health, including potential interactions with medications, safety concerns, and mental health repercussions.

Experts caution that older adults are particularly susceptible to adverse health consequences when using marijuana, such as falls, impaired driving, and negative drug interactions with their other medications. Recent studies reveal a staggering increase of over 1800% in emergency room visits associated with cannabis use among older adults between 2005 and 2019. These statistics shed light on the importance of educating and providing proper guidance to elderly individuals considering marijuana use.

As the elderly population embraces cannabis, it is crucial to foster a balanced approach that acknowledges the potential benefits while prioritizing safety, education, and responsible use. By dispelling stereotypes and promoting informed decision-making, older adults can navigate the world of cannabis with confidence, ensuring a positive and fulfilling experience.

Read more on FOX News.

As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.

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