Cannabis in Colorado History & Boomers’ Cannabis Use Patterns

MJ weedColorado is the home of legal medical and recreational cannabis, and come to find out,  we have history with this stuff. When Colorado became a state back in 1876, both hemp and cannabis could be grown legally, and they stayed that way for decades. By the late 1800s, cannabis oil was a common ingredient in medical tinctures. Asian-style hashish dens were common in larger cities like New York and San Francisco. Increasing popularity led to concerns that hashish would lead to mass addiction, and in 1906 the federal government imposed the first regulation on cannabis intended for consumption: A product simply had to be labeled if it contained the herb.

Between 1915 and 1917, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada all banned cannabis, and in March 1917, Colorado legislators made the use and cultivation of cannabis a misdemeanor. Those who broke the law were subject to a fine up to $10 and a month in jail, part of the growing national temperance movement that led to Prohibition in 1920.

On November 7, 2000, 54% of Colorado voters to approve the use of marijuana in the state for patients with written medical consent. Under this law, patients could possess up to 2 ounces of medical marijuana and cultivate no more than six plants.

Conditions recognized for medical use include: cachexiacancerchronic pain; chronic nervous system disordersepilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizuresglaucomaHIV or AIDSmultiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Patients could not use cannabis in public places, or in any manner which might endanger others including operating a vehicle or machinery after medicating.

Since the enactment of Colorado Amendment 64 in November 2012, adults aged 21 or older can grow up to six marijuana plants privately in a locked space and legally possess all marijuana from the plants they grow, and possess up to one ounce of marijuana while traveling,

Since 2012, Colorado sales of cannabis have been staggering! Since legalization, Cannabis sales have topped 13 billion, with 4.5 billion just in 2017. Tax data shows close to 22 million collected just in 2017.

Boomers and Cannabis Use

cannabis budIf you remember the 60s you weren’t there…

According to the most recent iteration of the 40-year-long “Monitoring the Future” study from the University of Michigan, 85 percent of Americans 50 plus have used illegal drugs, including marijuana, in their lifetimes.

Since 2006, marijuana use has increased significantly among adult Americans age 50 plus. A decade ago, roughly 4.5 percent of people ages 50 to 64, and 0.4 percent of seniors above age 65 had used marijuana in the past year. By 2013, those numbers had increased to 7.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. In percentage terms, marijuana use among 50- to 64-year-olds increased by 57.8 percent, while among seniors ages 65 and up, it ballooned by 250 percent.

This study, based on over 45,000 responses to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, isn’t the first to note that marijuana use is increasing rapidly among older adults. But it digs more deeply into the demographics of older Americans’ marijuana use, uncovering some interesting findings. For example European-Americans and African-Americans are much more likely to indulge in cannabis than Latinos. Low-income and married Americans are more likely to partake than separated or divorced, but single or widowed Americans use cannabis the most.

Many 50+ Americans are using cannabis to deal with mental health issues. Among those 50 and older, people who have suffered with depression or anxiety in the past year are much more likely to use cannabis medically. A number of studies have shown a link between marijuana use and mental disorders. Given the widespread prevalence of medical marijuana laws, some seniors may be turning to cannabis as an alternative treatment for the ailments of old age.

One study found that Medicare reimbursements for a number of common prescription medications dropped sharply after the introduction of medical marijuana laws. 

Medical or not, it’s clear that the rise in cannabis use among older adults is driven by the aging of the baby-boom generation, who dabbled extensively with cannabis in their youth and may be returning to it in old age for a variety of reasons.

Let’s face it. Most Boomers are different in their views of cannabis use compared to the generation before them, and since there are still plenty of boomers under 65, this trend toward increased use in old age is likely to continue into the future.

It is important to note that in some countries, like Israel, medical use of cannabis is considered standard treatment. Medical marijuana use has been permitted in Israel since the early 1990s for cancer patients and others with pain-related illnesses such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients can smoke cannabis, ingest it in liquid and caplet form, or apply it to the skin as a balm.

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8 thoughts on “Cannabis in Colorado History & Boomers’ Cannabis Use Patterns

  1. It’s not legal where I live but I still use it daily to combat the pain from RA & fibromyalgia. It has allowed me to live my life without pain pills of any kind. I hope one day it will be legal here, but living in the suffocating bible belt I doubt it. Our plan is to move to CO after caregiving for my mother who has Alz.

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  2. Rena, you can always hope. It was passed here in Arkansas for medical use, and we’re certainly a bible belt state. Good article Laura, and very informative. Thank you!

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  3. Pingback: The world keeps spinning, Boomers keep blogging about it - Carol Cassara

  4. I am amazed at what the medical use of marijuana can do. A friend has a child who had multiple daily seizures. Nothing worked, even going so far as having a surgery. Didn’t stop or slow them down. But one day on the resin and seizures stopped. When we were downsized, he wanted to stay with the company but his research showed that none of the states that had offices also had medical marijuana. So he couldn’t move with the company. Such a shame that the medical use of marijuana is not available nationwide.

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  5. Yes Jennifer, Walsenburg (near here) has become a center for parents with ill children who move here just to save their children’s lives. Such a shame our government is so blind and cruel about saving children with severe seizures.

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