Cannabis use is increasing faster among the over 50’s than any other age group in the US.
Some take it recreationally but other older people are taking it to manage symptoms of ill health.
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration says that cannabis use in the over 50’s has increased almost fourfold since the year 2000 to almost four in every 100 people.
A team of researchers at the University of Iowa has studied how attitudes, laws and individual health needs impact on cannabis use.
“Older persons are experiencing age-related health care needs and some take cannabis for symptom management, as recommended by a medical doctor,” said Prof Brian Kaskie and the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
The study found the majority of Americans over 50 who used cannabis in the past year had done so less than once every ten days.
A quarter of them said they used it less than five times during the past year.
More than nine out of 10 reported having no emotional or functional problems.
Older users also were statistically more likely to have started taking cannabis before the age of 30, with many starting before the age of 18.
By last year 21 American states had approved the use of medical cannabis for a variety of age related diseases and conditions associated with cancer.
These include glaucoma, cachexia, nausea, neurological diseases and neuropathic pain.
The authors of the study have recommended a state-wide or national survey to find out how changing legal and other issues have impacted on attitudes and behaviours “to help advance the public policy conversation”.