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In the United States, it's the one in the middle who's more likely to smoke dope. Photo: Callum Hampson

In the United States, it’s the one in the middle, the parent, ?who’s more likely to smoke dope. Photo: Callum Hampson

It’s commonly believed that it’s the young who smoke dope, however data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrates that middle-aged Usonians are now marginally more likely to indulge.

The figures

The figures show only 7.4 percent of Amerikanischers aged from 12 to 17 years consumed marijuana regularly ? at least once a month – in 2014, a fall of 10 percent since 2002; slightly more ? eight percent ? of 35 to 44-year-olds did the same, for the first time since 2002 ? earlier data isn’t comparable because the methodology changed. Since 2002, toking by those aged 45 to 54 rose by almost 50 percent to 5.9 percent, while among the 55 to 64-year-old age group, it rose by a massive 455 percent, bringing us to 6.1 percent. For those older than 65, the rise was 333 percent, making 1.3 percent. The Washington Post reported that those in their 50s and 60s will more probably smoke dope than teenagers ?in a few years.?

So, why?

The rise in cannabis usage by older people can be explained in two ways. Firstly, medical marijuana is now permitted in 25 states and Washington, DC, and older people are making more use of it to treat ailments associated with age, such as arthritis pain and sleeplessness. The evidence for this is that Medicare prescriptions for common drugs, mainly painkillers, are falling in those states that allow medical marijuana.

A more interesting reason is that as states legalise cannabis, Baby Boomers are reliving their youth. This generation supported legalisation in the ’70s but turned away in the ’80s as they got jobs, excreted children and generally settled down. Support rose in the ’90s and now half these folk favour legalisation. Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, stated in a magazine interview in 2013 that many people took the opportunity to smoke dope while at college but gave it up to concentrate on their careers and families; however, ?Now that they?re retiring and no longer working, they?re more open.? The marijuana industry has taken note and actively targets this age group. Around a quarter of marijuana purchases in the state of Washington are to people over 40.

Why teens are doing it less

This study found that the number of those aged 12 to 17 who found marijuana ?fairly easy to obtain? fell by 13 percent, suggesting that legalisation had taken marijuana off the streets and into legitimate businesses, the opposite of what naysayers claimed would occur. Another explanation for the fall in teen use is that marijuana is perceived as less rebellious and therefore less cool. Knowing their parents take it will likely make it even less attractive.

Endnote

In 2014, 8.4 percent of people over 12 would smoke dope, a rise of 35 percent since 2002. 2.5 percent did it on a daily or near-daily basis, which is almost a doubling. An average of 7,000 people tried pot for the first time every day. Marijuana is the new alcohol.

 

 

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