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Your hippie parents are the ones driving up weed use, study finds

People over 50 are 20 times more likely to smoke weed now than they were 30 years ago.

Everyone knows pot use is on the rise. But it’s not Gen Z or millennials rolling spliffs at music festivals who are driving the increase — it’s their parents.

People over the age of 50 are 20 times more likely to smoke weed now than they were 30 years ago, according to a new study published in the journal “Addiction.” By comparison, pot use has stayed pretty stable in the younger generations.

To come to that conclusion, researchers from the Alcohol Research Group analyzed self-reported data from over 40,000 U.S. adults compiled over the past three decades. In 1984, about half a percent of people between 50 and 59 said they smoked weed in the past year. But in 2015, that group had grown to nearly 12 percent. And less than half a percent of people over 60 were likely to smoke in 1984. In 2015, about 7 percent said they’d lit up.


Older people’s increased use has less to do with the liberalization of pot policies across states (despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions' best efforts) and more to do with a generational trend. People over 50, who grew up during the 1960s and '70s, are simply more comfortable with weed — and maybe other questionable choices like tie-dye and listening to Debby Boone.

Not much has changed for 18-to-29-year-olds, though. In 1984, 29.9 percent of people in that age range reported having used pot in the past year. Nearly three decades later, they’d dropped slightly to 29.2 percent.

It’s likely those same 18-to-29-year-olds from 1984 never forsook their old friend Mary Jane.

Cover image: In this Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2001, file photo, then Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant holds up some paper marijuana leaf replicas during a ceremony honoring the late reggae legend Bob Marley with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield, File)