Cannabis Use Rising Among Older Adults in US

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Survey data from a national poll indicate rising cannabis use in older adults, as access to cannabis increases across the country.

Cannabis use among older adults in the US increased since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to a study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in November 2023 (1). Noting that there has been a lack of research in this area since 2019, the study, titled “Prevalence and Frequency of Cannabis Use Among Adults Ages 50–80 in the United States,” examined survey data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging (1). In the survey, 2,000 Americans answered questions about cannabis use over the course of the year (1). The study did not separate cannabis by medical or recreational uses (3).

“Among 2023 participants aged 50–80 (52.7% female), 12.1% reported cannabis use in the past year,” stated the Results in the Abstract (1). “Among those who reported cannabis use, 34.2% reported using cannabis products 4 or more days per week.”


The study also found that the respondents who used alcohol, or who were unemployed and unmarried were more likely to report cannabis use, while those who identified as Hispanic or “other” ethnicity were less likely to do so compared to those who identified as white (1).

“As the stress of the pandemic and the increased legalization of cannabis by states converged, our findings suggest cannabis use increased among older adults nationally,” stated Anne Fernandez, PhD, with the Addiction Center, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan (3). “Older adults represent a vulnerable age group for cannabis use due to interactions with medications, risky driving, cannabis-related mental health impacts and increased possibility of falls and memory issues.”

As part of the conclusion of the study, the authors suggested more focus by medical professionals and policymakers on the health effects and risks for this population that uses cannabis (1).


  1. Fernandez, A. C.; Coughlin, L.; Solway, E. S.; Singer, D. C.; Kullgren, J. T.; Kirch, M.; Malani, P. N. Prevalence and frequency of cannabis use among adults ages 50–80 in the United States. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2023 DOI: 10.1089/can.2023.0056.
  2. Survey methods (accessed Dec 6, 2023).
  3. Gavin, K. Rising cannabis use among older Americans during the pandemic (accessed Dec 6, 2023).