Gone to pot: Weed smoking rises among US middle aged, seniors as teen use declines

© Jaime Saldarriaga
Parents in the United States are now more likely to regularly smoke weed than their teenage children in an ironic role reversal, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The data, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, covers the period from 2002 up to 2014 and notes while the prevalence of marijuana use increased during that time for those aged over 18, it did not for those aged between 12 and 17.

Just 7.4 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 years old smoked marijuana regularly in 2014, a 10 percent fall from the 2002 figure.

Eight percent of 35- to 44-year-olds on the other hand smoked weed regularly in the same year, outdoing the youngsters for the first time in the 12-year period.

The study also found that marijuana dependence and abuse decreased in the younger demographics but not among those over 26.

It’s not just those in the onset of early middle age who are embracing their hippy weed smoking side, however. All of the older age groups have seen massive jumps in cannabis use.

Those aged between 55 and 64 saw the biggest spike in past-month marijuana use at 455 percent, followed by the over 65s at 333 percent while the 45-to-54-years age category saw a 50 percent increase.

Percentage of past month marijuana use* among all persons aged ≥12 years, by age group — National Survey on Drug Use and Health, United States, 2002–2014 © cdc.gov

“Older groups had a significant increase of marijuana use in the past month," Alejandro Azofeifa, one of the report authors told The Washington Post.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the perceived parental disapproval of trying marijuana once or twice or once a month or more also fell among 12 to 17-year-olds.

It’s estimated an average of 7,000 people took to pot for the first time every day during 2013, based on the figure that a total of two and a half million people had used marijuana for the first time that year.

The report notes that the fact that marijuana use is becoming more commonplace may account for the substantial increase in those aged over 18 and recognises the need for more research on this.

25 states currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Recreational and medicinal marijuana is legal in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.