Based on new data, cannabis dispensaries may want to market to a surprising demographic they may not have focused on previously.
According to a new study published by the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence,
utilizing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health
, middle age, and older Americans are increasingly trying and using cannabis. The data collected from 2015 through 2016 shows that nine percent of U.S. adults aged 50-64 used cannabis within the previous year. The study also revealed that 3 percent of those above the age of 65 used cannabis during within the past year.
The number of older U.S. adults consuming cannabis seems to be rising quickly. In 2013, the same survey found that 7 percent of middle-aged adults had tried cannabis in the past year. Only 1.4 percent of adults over the age of 65 tried cannabis within the previous year.
This does not seem to be a simple case of those who used cannabis as a teen or in college rekindling their habits. The study found that 45 percent of those over 65 who reported using cannabis only tried it for the first time after their turned 21. Baby boomers who used cannabis seem to be increasing their frequency of use. Approximately 5 percent reported using cannabis even more recently, within the past month.
The increase in legal medicinal cannabis may also be leading to a rise in use by middle age and older adults. One-quarter of cannabis users over 65 surveyed had been recommended cannabis by a physician.
Dr. Joshua Briscoe, a palliative care physician at Duke University School of Medine seemed cautiously optimistic about cannabis being used as a medicine for older Americans. While he is concerned with dependency and overuse, Briscoe does feel cannabis may be a safer alternative to many other prescription medications.
“We prescribe substances that are far more dangerous than cannabinoids,” said Briscoe according to NPR
Dr. Benjamin Han, an assistant professor of internal medicine at New York University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, stressed that middle age cannabis users, who could be trying the drug again after a long hiatus, need to be careful.
“A smaller amount is going to hit you a lot harder when you’re older,” Han said.
As dispensaries mature and shed the stoner vibe and the reggae music, older Americans may feel more comfortable walking into a cannabis shop. Many new products are marketed to novice users, especially edibles that often include small serving sizes in order to prevent over-consumption. This approach could open up marketing opportunities to an entirely new section of older customers.