Eight out of 10 boomers favor legalizing medical pot but few use it. Most think opioids would be more effective for chronic pain.
April 10, 2018
3 min read
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Older Americans overwhelmingly support the use of medical marijuana, but also feel the federal government needs to conduct more research on the potential of cannabis, a new study has found.
Four out of five Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 support the legalization and use of medical marijuana, according to the annual National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy.
Perhaps surprisingly given that Baby Boomers sparked the counterculture revolution, respondents supported medical marijuana with a degree of wariness, the director of the survey said. They don’t use it a lot, either. Only 6 percent said they use medical marijuana, according to survey director Preeti Malani, a doctor at the university’s medical center, Michigan Medicine.
Another 18 percent, however, said they know someone who does.
The survey questioned 2,007 Americans between the ages of 50 and 80. The goal was to gauge their acceptance and use of medical marijuana. Many voiced disbelief that cannabis is effective for pain relief, one of the chief reasons that many have advocated for medical marijuana.
About one-third of respondents “definitely” believe marijuana provides pain relief, while an additional 38 percent said it “probably” does. However, just 14 percent believe cannabis is more effective than opioids in treating pain. Another 48 percent said they believe opioids are better at pain relief, while 38 percent said they are about equal.
If that all sounds a bit more Mrs. Robinson than Benjamin Braddock for a group of Baby Boomers, keep in mind that 70 percent are willing to ask their doctor about using medical marijuana should the need for it arise.
More Federal Research
The older Americans also asked for more research by the federal government into the potential for medical marijuana. That’s an issue, though, because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
The only place where marijuana is grown for research purposes in the United States is the University of Mississippi. The Drug Enforcement Agency announced a policy change last year that could lead to more facilities growing cannabis for research, but it remains unknown how many that will include. Meanwhile, other countries — especially Israel — have taken the lead on marijuana research.
More research might lead to more use. In the survey, just one in five respondents said their doctor had even asked if they used marijuana. Even less said they think their doctor is knowledgeable about marijuana use.