Pot smoking is on the rise among seniors—and not the high-school variety. Marijuana use among those over 50 jumped from 1.9% to 2.9% between 2002 and 2008; among those 55 to 59, reported use tripled to 5.1%, and some experts expect that number to get, ahem, higher, as baby boomers continue to age. While some boomers who tried it decades ago never stopped, others are revisiting the habit in retirement, either for recreation or as a way to cope with the aches and pains of aging.
"They're missing a lot of fun and a lot of relief," says one 88-year-old daily smoker of her more straight-laced peers. She's not the only one who likes the idea of more seniors getting in on the action. "For the longest time, our political opponents were older Americans who had lived through the Reefer Madness mentality and considered marijuana a very dangerous drug," says a legalization advocate. "Now, whether they resume the habit of smoking or whether they simply understand that it's no big deal and that it shouldn't be a crime, in large numbers they're on our side of the issue."