Background: Marijuana use is increasing among middle-aged and older adults in the US, but little is understood of its pattern of use by this population.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of responses from 17,608 adults aged ≥50 years from the 2015 and 2016 administrations of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Prevalence of past-year marijuana use was estimated and compared between middle-aged adults (age 50-64) and older adults (≥65). Characteristics of past-year marijuana users including demographics, substance use, chronic disease, and emergency room use, were compared to non-marijuana users and stratified by age group. Marijuana use characteristics were also compared between middle-aged and older adults. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine correlates of past-year marijuana use.
Results: Prevalence of past-year marijuana use was 9.0% among adults aged 50-64 and 2.9% among adults aged ≥65. Prevalence of past-year alcohol use disorder (AUD), nicotine dependence, cocaine use, and misuse of prescription medications (i.e., opioids, sedatives, tranquilizers) were higher among marijuana users compared to non-users. In adjusted models, initiation of marijuana use <19 years of age [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 13.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 9.60, 18.78)], AUD (AOR = 2.11, 95% CI 1.51, 2.94), prescription opioid misuse (AOR 2.49, 95% CI 1.61, 3.85), nicotine dependence (AOR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.59, 2.26), and cocaine use (AOR 7.43, 95% CI 4.23, 13.03), were all associated with increased odds of past-year marijuana use.
Conclusion: Marijuana use is becoming more prevalent in this population and users are also at high risk for other drug use.
Keywords: Cannabis; Epidemiology; Marijuana; Opioids; Polysubstance use.
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