Demographic trends among older cannabis users in the United States, 2006–13

Authors

  • Benjamin H. Han,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
    2. Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY, USA
    • Correspondence to: Benjamin H. Han, New York University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, 550 First Avenue, BCD 615, New York, NY 10016, USA. E-mail: benjamin.han@nyumc.org

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  • Scott Sherman,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
    2. Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY, USA
    3. Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
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  • Pia M. Mauro,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
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  • Silvia S. Martins,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
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  • James Rotenberg,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
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  • Joseph J. Palamar

    1. Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY, USA
    2. Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
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Abstract

Background and Aims

The ageing US population is providing an unprecedented population of older adults who use recreational drugs. We aimed to estimate the trends in the prevalence of past-year use of cannabis, describe the patterns and attitudes and determine correlates of cannabis use by adults age 50 years and older.

Design

Secondary analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey from 2006 to 2013, a cross-sectional survey given to a nationally representative probability sample of populations living in US households.

Setting

USA.

Participants

A total of 47 140 survey respondents aged ≥ 50 years.

Measures

Estimates and trends of past-year use of cannabis.

Findings

The prevalence of past-year cannabis use among adults aged ≥ 50 increased significantly from 2006/07 to 2012/13, with a 57.8% relative increase for adults aged 50–64 (linear trend P < 0.001) and a 250% relative increase for those aged ≥ 65 (linear trend P = 0.002). When combining data from 2006 to 2013, 6.9% of older cannabis users met criteria for cannabis abuse or dependence, and the majority of the sample reported perceiving no risk or slight risk associated with monthly cannabis use (85.3%) or weekly use (79%). Past-year users were more likely to be younger, male, non-Hispanic, not have multiple chronic conditions and use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs compared with non-past-year cannabis users.

Conclusions

The prevalence of cannabis use has increased significantly in recent years among US adults aged ≥ 50 years.

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