Grandma’s got a brand new (dime) bag

Baby Boomers are returning to recreational pot smoking

What comes around goes around. After coming of age in the pot culture of the 1960s, then raising kids in the “Just Say No” era, the Baby Boomer generation is returning to recreational cannabis use as they reach retirement age. While some are smoking a bowl as part of being retired and not having to maintain appearances to their children, the benefit to the aches and pains of aging is also a big draw. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, commissioned by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, shows that 4.6 percent of persons aged 50 or over used marijuana in 2012. That’s nearly double what this same age group reported in 2002. The survey explains that many of the people entering the 50-and-up demographic experienced much higher rates of illicit drug use as teenagers and young adults than their parents. But it’s not just former teen tokers who are turning to cannabis. Carolyn Rosenblatt, personal finance writer for Forbes and publisher of AgingParents.com, wrote that her 91-year-old mother-in-law decided to start using edible cannabis to deal with insomnia and pain related to a hip injury, since mainstream narcotic pain medications “didn’t agree with her.” Answers for the ages? Even the AARP Bulletin has written about a medical marijuana collective at a senior community in Southern California. Residents of Laguna Woods Village, a senior living community, opened their own medical marijuana dispensary to help each other purchase pot despite their transportation limitations. They use cannabis to ease the symptoms of everything from osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetic neuropathy to chemotherapy. Recreational use is also becoming less stigmatized nationwide, with Colorado and Washington legalizing certain amounts of recreational cannabis use. That, along with empty nests, can open the door for boomers to resume some old recreational practices. Zoe Helene, a blogger for Huffington Post, said in a March 2014 story that “she started using marijuana in her 20s and then stopped in the 1990s,” because she had launched a high-powered career where weed would be frowned up. She also had a partner “who was strictly against it,” she says. It also became impossible, as a parent, to tell her children they can’t smoke, then use it herself. “[That would be] a bad example for this generation when they became parents,” she says. “Once the kids are gone, you’re much more free to explore.” Regardless of why baby boomers and other retirees are using cannabis products more frequently, it is a clear trend that marijuana dispensaries will be serving and marketing to in the years to come.