Aging baby boomers are the primary consumers of marijuana, according to Statistics Canada, and marijuana storefront operators say many of their regular clients are over age 55.
The Statistics Canada report Experimental Estimates of Cannabis Consumption in Canada showed that around five million Canadians used pot in 2015, and many of them were older Canadians. Fewer than 6 per cent of consumers were in the 15- to-17 age range while two-thirds were over 25 years old. In the 1960s, around 18 per cent of consumers were teenagers.
One Alberta medical marijuana retailer agrees that older users are the most common customers.
Cole Pethybridge, co-owner and manager at Starbuds, which is a medical marijuana access centre in St. Albert, said that his clients are generally the older population rather than the younger crowd.
Pethybridge said that the average age of consumers coming into his shop is around 55 years old. He does not see many young consumers. Some of the patients that visit Starbuds are over the age of 90, he said.
Jeff Simpson, 83, started using marijuana in his late 50s when he was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis in his spine. Simpson went to his doctor asking for relief, and was prescribed medication that, he said, came with a host of side effects.
“The drugs that my doctor had always prescribed for me were really pretty awful,” said the Vancouver businessman and university student.
Simpson bought some marijuana and found it quite useful, for pain relief so he could go about his daily schedule. Since then, he said, marijuana has become much better and he’s now stopped using any pharmaceuticals to treat his arthritis. Simpson said even after he went back to his doctor and said marijuana was helping him with pain symptoms, his doctor was skeptical and even dismissive.
As Simpson explained, “I says, ‘it’s helping, it’s really, really helping’. And my doctor says, ‘it’s just your imagination.’”
Simpson — who owns his own business and is completing a PhD in astrobiology — said he smokes about two or three joints per day.