Tolerance of Marijuana Reflected in Seniors’ Use

Some members of the Baby Boomer generation not only remain tolerant of marijuana use but also continue to smoke the drug themselves, the Washington Post reported Nov. 16.

“I know literally hundreds of people my age who smoke,” said Joe Lee, 62, a vintage-records dealer in Rockville, Md. “They are upright citizens, good parents who are holding down jobs. You take two or three puffs, and you’re good to go. I’m not a Rastafarian; I don’t treat this as some holy sacrament. But pot is fun.”

Nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 50-59 reported marijuana use in 2007, up from 5.1 percent in 2002. Some older users never stopped smoking, while others have returned to using as tolerance has increased.

“We’re concerned by the public-health impact of this,” said Peter Delany of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Doctors need to be more sensitive to it. They may ask older patients about alcohol now but not think to ask about illicit drug use.”

“I don’t think more people in their 50s are smoking marijuana. I think we are just more comfortable talking about it,” said travel writer Rick Steves, 54. “It’s just not that big a deal anymore. It’s another recreational drug, like alcohol.”

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