Throw out the misconception that all stoners are teens hotboxing in high school parking lots: Baby boomer potheads are on the rise, and their numbers are rapidly growing. Just because they still call marijuana “grass” doesn’t mean they can’t smoke you out.
In a study recently published in the journal Addiction, a team of researchers found, using data collected in the U.S. National Drug Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2006 and 2013, that there has been a 71 percent increase in marijuana use among adults 50 years and older. People older than 65 smoke less marijuana than people aged 50 to 64, but the prevalence of weed use among them has still increased over the last eight years, the researchers from New York University and Columbia University report.
The study, based on the responses of 47,140 adults aged 50 and older, also revealed that there are more baby boomer men smoking the chronic than women, although that certainly doesn’t mean moms aren’t toking up at all — researchers elsewhere have shown plenty of evidence to the contrary. The researchers found that baby boomers as a whole, fittingly, felt pretty chill about how smoking would affect their health: Only five percent of the older adults thought using marijuana once or twice a week put their health at great risk.
“I thought the perception of low risk was fascinating because, typically, we think of older generations as drug-adverse, and perceiving most drugs to be risky,” said the study’s co-author Joseph Palamar, Ph.D., in a statement. “But apparently very few Baby Boomers consider marijuana use risky. But after all, this was the generation who was there, in the late 1960s, when the counterculture revolution exploded marijuana into mainstream popularity.”
The boomers know what they’re doing. Most of the survey respondents indicated that they had used marijuana before the age of 18, and only 4 percent started using the drug after 35. Palamar added that he doesn’t think that “we need to be very alarmed about most older people who are using marijuana” — but he and his team do note that there’s a need for more research on how marijuana will affect the health of this population. A particular concern, he notes, is the potential risk of falls for older folk who have toked up.
So, this holiday season don’t feel alarmed if you parents yell at you for smoking a blunt at home — they’re probably just upset that you didn’t share.