The data revealed that among U.S. residents aged 12-17, only 7.4 percent admitted to regular consumption in 2014, 10 percent less than in 2002. Comparatively, 8 percent of Americans between 35-44 admit to using cannabis today, marking the first time the demographic surpassed teens in the category since the CDC started tracking the statistic in 2002.
Alejandro Azofeifa, who reported the findings, said in an email to The Washington Post, “During the last 13 years, marijuana use (i.e., past-month marijuana use) has steadily increased in the United States, particularly among people aged 26 years or older. Older groups had a significant increase of marijuana use in the past month.”
If these trends continue, Americans in their 50s and 60s could soon use marijuana on a more regular basis than teenagers, which seemed unfathomable just a few years ago.
What’s causing such a dramatic shift in weed-usage patterns in America?
It’s most likely a combination of factors, including but not limited to our country’s ever-evolving view of marijuana. While Baby Boomers may justify their marijuana use with legalization, the opposite could be said for teenagers, who traditionally gravitate toward counterculture and vices that have been prohibited by their perceived authority figures.
Cover Image Courtesy of International Business Times
Another explanation for the shift in usage trends is the large faction of Americans replacing traditional pharmaceuticals with marijuana; the plant and its extracts are now legal for medicinal use in half of our Nation’s 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to another recent study of Medicare prescription data, doctors are prescribing far fewer opioid painkillers in states with some form of medical marijuana legalization. Considering there were almost 19,000 prescription painkiller overdose fatalities in 2014, this is a welcomed cultural shift. It seems that once marijuana is legal in a given state, the middle-aged and older residents become more open to using it medicinally.