Why Growing Numbers of Baby Boomers and the Elderly Are Smoking Pot

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 26, 2010

    An excellent and thoughtful analysis appears today via Alternet.org. Below is an excerpt. To read the entire story, please visit here.

    Why Growing Numbers of Baby Boomers and the Elderly Are Smoking Pot
    More and more of the nation’s 78 million Boomers are discovering they’d rather smoke marijuana than reach for a pharmaceutical

    Conventional wisdom dictates that as younger generations slowly replace the old, conservative social traditions are jettisoned. This may be true for issues such as gay marriage, where there are clear divisions among younger and older voters, but when it comes to marijuana reform, the evidence indicates that simplistic divisions of opinion along age lines don’t apply for pot.

    Earlier this week, an AP wire article picked up a lot of buzz in the news-cycle, with a title and premise meant to shock the mainstream: “Marijuana Use by Seniors Goes up as Boomers Age.”

    The AP article was pegged to a December report released by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It revealed that the number of Americans over 50 who had reported consuming cannabis in the year prior to the study had gone up from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent in the period from 2002 to 2008.

    This is supported by earlier polling results. In February 2009, a Zogby poll found that voters aged 50 to 64 were almost equally divided in their support for marijuana legalization at 48 percent. In that same poll, young voters aged 18 to 29 were the cohort who most enthusiastically supported legalization, at 55 percent. But overall support among all ages came in at 44 percent.

    So who brought the average down? Don’t lay the blame on the elderly. In fact, as early as 2004, an AARP poll found that 72 percent of its members (all 50-plus, with the lion’s share over 65) supported marijuana for medical purposes, indicating their understanding of the benefits of legal cannabis availability.

    Some expert observers in the marijuana reform movement believe that the bulk of marijuana detractors are made up of 30- and 40-somethings — adults of parenting age. And as more of the 65-and-over crowd is populated by Baby Boomers, it appears that in the not-too-distant future every age demographic including the elderly will approve of marijuana reform more than Americans in their 30s and 40s.

    Read the rest of the story online here.

    60 responses to “Why Growing Numbers of Baby Boomers and the Elderly Are Smoking Pot”

    1. Jessica Griffith says:

      I honestly think that America’s War on Drugs, should focus on Cocaine, Methamphetamines, Heroin,ect….not Marijuana. I also think its bull that people are arrested/die/hurt someone every single day, due to alcohol, but yet, they sell it everywhere. Alcohol, in my personal opinion, is far more dangerous and addictive than marijuana. Our country is so far in debt, well, I say, sell marijuana cigarettes in the store, tax the crap out of it, and see how far that gets us. They will make money, lots of it, and there will be less people sitting in jail, wasting my money, your money, our money, b/c of pot. My best friend was killed by a drunk driver – he’s not in jail. But hey, don’t get caught w/ pot on you, or you will go to jail. Get real AMERICA !!!!!!

    2. High, Seems there is a combination of factors, but perhaps the greatest is simply more truthful reporting of use. Many of the boomers have always used cannabis, but have been very closeted. The obvious reasons for this, children and jobs—
      As we (I am “One of Them Boomers” who will soon be retiring) have more freedom, we become more free with our opinions and less closeted.
      Medical use is the other reason—those who never used cannabis are finding this is a safe, effective medicine for most all of the ills of the elderly, including helping heal cancer. As access grows, the number of social and medical users will gain in all demographics. Since “boomers” are largest population bubble in history, there will be a lot of us in the ranks of the cannabis users for the next few decades. I plan on another 40 years of toking and joking myself.


    3. Grandma420 says:

      I would love to come out of the closet to even become a member on facebook but fearing I could loose everything including my job if someone sees me, I cannot risk it. I am in my 50’s and not on any prescription drugs. Prefer the MJ instead. That is probably why its not legal. The drug co. are paying some members of congress to keep it illegal in exchange for a cut.

    4. mike graham says:

      we figured out the LIE!!!!!

    5. Sp says:

      dont blame us 30 somethings we are for reform to, at least the 30 somethings i know, but then again we all dont have children and we all study scienes, so we have researched the drug war and most drug effects. although some of our less intelligent wives disagree. I challange anyone who is not for reform and legalazation of Cannabis L Sativa Psylocibin lyserig acid D and Mescaline to study them and then still be against them.

    6. HangMan says:


    7. momof5 says:

      Keep educating people – 40-something moms are having to deal with reactions to the pharmaceutical poisons – opiate-based medicines are dangerous and addictive, not cannabis. Cannabis is traditional medicine for North America, just as they have their indiginous healing plants down in South America (which are what the pharmaceuticals are looking to synthesize and patent next)

    8. Rhayader says:

      It doesn’t really make sense to compare the 44% nationwide support for recreational legalization with the 72% support among seniors for medical access. The national support for the latter is at 81%, suggesting seniors are actually less likely then your average voter to support such a measure. Maybe we should “blame the elderly” after all.

    9. That’s right my friend! Out with Superstition & In with SUPER NUTRITION!!!!!! With Hemp Foods Leading Thee Way!!!!!!!

    10. Indeed America is getting smarter without help from the younger generation with their Wei n’ PS2 n’ all those stupid video games:) Baby-Boomers-Rock!