It’s a long-held stereotype that cannabis is widely enjoyed by younger generations and generally looked down upon by older folks. However, a new survey shows that, along with the emerging modern world of cannabis, the attitudes around cannabis are also shifting. Namely, older Americans seem to be coming around with more positive views around cannabis and cannabis use today.
Researchers affiliated with St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia shared the results of
Older Americans and Cannabis: A New Frontier
Authors noted the rise of medical and recreational cannabis use among older adults, along with mounting concerns around the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use.
“This pilot study aimed to determine the attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of older adults toward cannabis as a medicinal product, to establish a foundation for future research on how healthcare providers communicate with this population regarding cannabis,” the authors note.
Participants for the study were recruited through flier distributions, publications in newsletters and a local newspaper. Surveys were then conducted between December 2019 and May 2020. The survey aimed to recruit 50 participants, and 47 met requirements. The average age of older Americans in the survey was 71 years old, and a majority of participants were male (53%) and Black (64%).
Ultimately, 83% of participants said they believe cannabis is “less harmful to a person’s health compared to alcohol.” Seventy-six percent said that cannabis is a “highly important treatment for older adults.” Additionally, 42% said they would consider themselves highly knowledgeable about cannabis, and more than half of participants reported being asked about tobacco (55%) or alcohol (57%) use by their primary care physician, while just 23% reported being asked about cannabis.
Participants said that they most commonly turned to the internet and social media for information about cannabis, and only a small number of participants said they relied on their primary care physician for cannabis information.
Valuable Intel and the Need for Further Research
Authors said that the results of the survey point to the need for accurate and reliable information about cannabis for older adults and their healthcare providers.
“As the use of cannabis as a therapy continues to rise, it is crucial for healthcare providers to address misconceptions and encourage older adults to seek out evidence-based research,” authors conclude. “Further research is needed to explore healthcare providers’ perceptions of cannabis therapy and how they can better educate older adults.”
While the results also show a shift in attitude among older Americans regarding cannabis, it’s also worth noting the 47-person sample size and focus on Philadelphia residents as limitations and need for broader research on the topic.
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano commented on the findings, saying that the increased acceptance of cannabis among seniors is “not surprising.”
“Many seniors struggle with pain, anxiety, restless sleep, and other conditions for which cannabis products often mitigate,” Armentano