Trends and correlates of marijuana use among late middle-aged and older adults in the United States, 2002–2014

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn, Lenise A. Cummings-Vaughn, Katherine J. Holzer, Erik J. Nelson, Millan AbiNader, Sehun Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Background Recent trend studies suggest that marijuana use is on the rise among the general population of adults ages 18 and older in the United States. However, little is known about the trends in marijuana use and marijuana-specific risk/protective factors among American adults during the latter part of adulthood. Method Findings are based on repeated, cross-sectional data collected from late middle-aged (ages 50–64) and older adults (ages 65 and older) surveyed as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2002 and 2014. Results The prevalence of past-year marijuana use among late middle-aged adults increased significantly from a low of 2.95% in 2003 to a high of 9.08% in 2014. Similarly, the prevalence of marijuana use increased significantly among older adults from a low of 0.15% in 2003 to a high of 2.04% in 2014. Notably, the upward trends in marijuana use remained significant even when accounting for sociodemographic, substance use, behavioral, and health-related factors. We also found that decreases in marijuana-specific protective factors were associated with the observed trend changes in marijuana use among late middle-aged and older adults, and observed a weakening of the association between late-middle aged marijuana use and risk propensity, other illicit drug use, and criminal justice system involvement over the course of the study. Conclusions Findings from the present study provide robust evidence indicating that marijuana use among older Americans has increased markedly in recent years, with the most evident changes observed between 2008 and 2014.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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