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

Benjamin H. Han, Scott Sherman, Pia M. Mauro, Silvia S. Martins, James Rotenberg, Joseph J. Palamar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-525
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Aging
  • cannabis
  • epidemiology
  • geriatrics
  • older adult
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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