Unrelenting Growth and Diversification: Using the Health and Retirement Study to Illuminate Cannabis Use among Aging Americans.

TitleUnrelenting Growth and Diversification: Using the Health and Retirement Study to Illuminate Cannabis Use among Aging Americans.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationForthcoming
AuthorsKaskie, B, Bhagianadh, D, Bobitt, J, Martinos, F, Milavetz, G, Arora, K
JournalThe Gerontologist
ISSN Number1758-5341
Keywordshealth retirement survey, Marijuana, Older Adults, Opioids, pain
Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Cannabis use among aging Americans continues to increase. We examine correlates of cannabis use including attitudes, state of residence, health status and service use.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Using the 2018 Health and Retirement Study Cannabis module completed by 1,372 respondents aged 50 and older, we distinguished current cannabis users from those who have never used or have some prior use. We linked 2018 and 2016 core HRS data and used multinomial regressions to identify associations among current use, attitudes, place of residence, as well as current (2018) and past (2016) medical conditions, pain and sleep issues. We also examined associations among cannabis use, hospital stays and outpatient medical visits.

RESULTS: Past year cannabis use reached 10.3% among aging Americans. Attitudes toward cannabis have changed over time with 4 of 5 survey respondents currently holding a favorable attitude. Attitude and state of residence were associated with current use. Cannabis users reported higher levels of pain, were more likely to use prescription opioids, and report activity limitations in both 2016 and 2018. Associations between cannabis use and sleep issues or concurrent healthcare use were not observed.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Changing attitudes and state legalization appear important for late middle age and older persons, and as many as 1 of every 5 persons over 50 may be using cannabis by 2030. Cannabis use among aging Americans warrants increased attention from care providers, program administrators and policy makers, especially as a prevention or harm reduction strategy relative to prescription opioids.

DOI10.1093/geront/gnae016
Citation Key13783
PubMed ID38400767