As US marijuana laws evolve and society distances itself from previous prohibitionist attitudes, the baby boomer generation (born roughly 1946-1964), is smoking pot at an ever higher rate—or at least more of them are admitting it. As of 2011, 6.3% of adults between ages 50 and 59 reported using marijuana, up from 2.7% in 2002, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
“There’s a resurgence of interest in pot and psychedelics in baby boomers,” Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, tells The Fix. “Many of them had experience with these substances in college, then gave them up for their families and careers. Now that they’re retiring and no longer working, they’re more open.” Doblin, who is 59 and has been a regular toker since he was 17, says his marijuana use has become more “work-oriented” as he’s gotten older. “I better understand how to use [pot]for activity rather than just relaxation,” he explains. “It goes terrific with exercise and physical labor. Older people understand this better.”
Doblin says the stigma of pot has decreased in recent decades, and many baby boomers now have a “longer-term perspective” about marijuana after witnessing scare stories blow over. “We’ve watched for 40 years and have found a lot of these claims [about the dangers of pot]to be untrue,” he says. Many older adults also feel freer to use the drug now that their children have grown up and left home. Though not all of them are completely open about it. “What’s so ironic to me is how many people grew up hiding marijuana from their parents,” says Doblin, “and now they’re hiding marijuana from their kids.”
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