Marijuana use among the older crowd has increased, according to a Statistics Canada survey.
The Statistics Canada report Experimental Estimates of Cannabis Consumption in Canada, 1960 to 2015 showed that around five million Canadians used pot in 2015 and many of them were older Canadians. Less than six per cent of consumers were in the 15-17 age range while two-thirds were over 25 years old.
In the 1960s, around 18 per cent of consumers were 15 to 17 years old. Now the federal agency estimates that just under six per cent of consumers are in that same age range.
One local medical marijuana retailer agrees.
Cole Pethybridge, co-owner and manager at Starbuds, which is a medical marijuana access centre, said that his clients are generally the older population rather than the younger crowd.
“They’re typically a higher percentage of medication users already. Having cannabis helping so many different ailments they are able to get off five or six different pills,” Pethybridge said.
Pethybridge said that the average age of consumers coming into his shop is around 55 years old and he said that he does not see many young consumers. Some of the patients that visit Starbuds are over the age of 90.
Pethybridge said that many of his clients are looking to get off some of their medication to reduce the side effects and use cannabis to treat their ailments instead.
Consumption by older populations groups has jumped dramatically since the ’60s. In 1977 it is estimated that just over four per cent of cannabis was consumed by Canadians aged 45 to 64. Now that estimate sits above 23 per cent.
The study said that in the 1960s cannabis was considered a youth market but today older Canadians are consuming more. The changes in the market are consistent with changes to when the boomers were exposed to cannabis. The cohort was exposed to the drug while in high school and now continue to have a desire for consuming the drug as they age.
Pethybridge said that while many older consumers are open to trying cannabis as a treatment option, some still battle with the stigma and stereotypes associated with the drug. He said that after they come and get information about the drug, typically within a month they are more accepting of marijuana as a treatment option.
The study also estimated that the cannabis black market was worth as much as $6.2 billion in 2015, which is roughly the same value as the wine market in the country.
The federal government plans to make marijuana legal on July 1 of this year.