More Senior Adults Find the Use Of Medical Marijuana Acceptable, Study Shows

A new study of older adults in Colorado shows a shift in the perception of marijuana.

A new study examining attitudes towards marijuana among adults ages 60 and older in Colorado suggests a more supportive view of medical marijuana and a more accepting view of recreational marijuana.

Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed believe the use of medical marijuana is acceptable. Of those respondents, 53 percent answered that they did not believe medical marijuana was acceptable at the age of 18.

Researchers used data from a statewide survey of 274 older Coloradans. Participants were gathered from health clinics, senior centers, state-registered cannabis clubs, and cannabis dispensaries. In Colorado, medical marijuana has been legal since 2001, and recreational marijuana legal to buy since 2014.

The study showed that while older adults favored medical marijuana legalization, there was more hesitation towards recreational cannabis. Sixty percent of seniors strongly agreed with the statement, “Regardless of my current state law, I am in favor of legalized marijuana for medical benefits,” but only 28 percent strongly agreed with the parallel statement on recreational cannabis.

A similar trend was observed for the perception of risk involved with the use of recreational cannabis. While only 10 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “Medical marijuana use is risky,” researchers found that 33 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement on recreational marijuana.

The full questionnaire scale can be seen here.

The data shows that women are more accepting than men of both medical and recreational marijuana legalization. Those between the ages of 60-70 were overall most acceptable of marijuana legalization.

The full survey response scale by age and gender can be found here.

The study’s authors cautioned that the research did have limitations including a small sample size and a limited regional population.

“Despite these limitations, we expect these results to move us closer to understanding the relationship between public policy, cannabis use, and attitudes among older adults,” the study’s authors wrote. “This is especially pertinent in light of the rapidly aging baby boom population and the related projection of continued increase in the prevalence of cannabis use among this population.”

Research for the study was funded by Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. The study, “Measuring Attitudes Toward Medical and Recreational Cannabis Among Older Adults in Colorado,” was published in the journal The Gerontologist in May.

what older Americans think of marijuana


Older Adults Use Cannabis to Manage Symptoms

A recent study published in the spring 2019 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management suggests that medical marijuana legalization improves the health and employment prospects of older adults.

To conduct the study, researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Temple University evaluated more than 100,000 survey responses from adults aged 51 years and older over 20 years.

The analysis showed a 4.8 percent decrease in pain and a 6.6 percent increase in reported good or excellent health in those who would qualify for medical marijuana in the state they live. Data from the same group revealed those older adults experienced a 7.3 percent increase in levels of full-time work.

A separate study on Coloradans ages 65 and older found the use of marijuana to be increasingly more common in the state. The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Respondents in that survey reported using cannabis to manage symptoms, including pain, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, and lack of appetite.

More Cannabis Research

Learn about the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado. To learn more about the latest scientific reports on cannabis, visit our news page.