Pot Smoking On The Increase For Older Americans

Maybe the kind of laissez faire environment you find regarding medical marijuana in Southern California has spread across the country: Older folks are using pot a lot more these days, according to recent data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Recreational weed use, in fact, tripled for the 55- to 59-year-old crowd, from 1.6 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent in 2008, the most recent year that survey data was available. For those Americans 50 and older, pot use went from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent during the same time frame, according to a report on the data by Associated Press.

It's no wonder that eight in 10 Americans believe medical marijuana should be legal, and nearly half of us (46 percent) would support full legalization (doctor's recommendation or not).

Also keep in mind that the over-50 crowd votes in much greater numbers, and is much more likely to have people with leadership positions in government and elsewhere, than younger Americans. Baby boomers who grew up experimenting with marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s are part of the nation's power class.

"For the longest time, our political opponents were older Americans who were not familiar with marijuana and had lived through the 'Reefer Madness' mentality and they considered marijuana a very dangerous drug," Keith Stroup, the founder and lawyer of NORML, told AP. "Now, whether they resume the habit of smoking or whether they simply understand that it's no big deal and that it shouldn't be a crime, in large numbers they're on our side of the issue."

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