Research Roundup: boomers likeliest to wake and bake; study links prenatal pot exposure and autism

Okay, boomer! New research shows the differences and similarities in the cannabis-consumption habits of baby boomers and millennials


New research shows the differences and similarities in the cannabis-consumption patterns of baby boomers and millennials. Photo by Ljupco/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Okay, boomer!

The battle lines have been drawn, mostly on social media. Baby boomers and millennials are, we’re led to believe, divided on everything from financial matters to social justice. (The members of Generation X, meanwhile, wonder why no one cares what we think anymore.)

The truth, as always, is a little more nuanced. Want to find out how members of any given generation feel about a particular topic? The surest way is to ask. Verilife—which operates dispensaries in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—did just that. The company surveyed 1,000 baby boomers (aged 56 to 74) and 1,000 millennials (aged 24 to 39) who consume cannabis regularly. The goal, according to Verilife, was “to learn more about the similarities and differences between how both generations consume marijuana”. 

Here’s what they found:

  • Millennials and boomers consume cannabis for different reasons. While 49% of cannabis-consuming millennials do so for recreational purposes, only 28% of boomers do. Boomers, on the other hand, are twice as likely to use cannabis solely for medical reasons. 
  • Millennials surveyed say they use medical cannabis to deal with chronic pain, migraines, and nausea. Boomers use it for arthritis, chronic pain, and cancer. 
  • Both age groups use recreational weed for relaxation, to reduce anxiety, and for social reasons. 
  • Boomers are twice as likely to use cannabis in the morning. Millennials are more likely to use in the evening. 
  • Members of both generations spend an average of US$76 per month on cannabis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that figure has increased by US$27 a month on average.
  • Both generations report using more during COVID-19. (That’s a 44% increase for boomers and 36% among millennials.) 

Read the full results on the Verilife blog.

Maternal cannabis use and autism

A new study out of Ontario has found a link between maternal cannabis use during pregnancy and the incidence of autism spectrum disorder in the offspring.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers analyzed all live births in Ontario between 2007 and 2012. They used the provincial birth registry, which contains information on cannabis use during pregnancy. Then they linked pregnancy and birth data to provincial health administrative databases to ascertain child neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Photo by ruizluquepaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The study’s authors write:

We find an association between maternal cannabis use in pregnancy and the incidence of autism spectrum disorder in the offspring. The incidence of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis was 4.00 per 1,000 person-years among children with exposure compared to 2.42 among unexposed children, and the fully adjusted hazard ratio was 1.51 (95% confidence interval: 1.17–1.96) in the matched cohort. The incidence of intellectual disability and learning disorders was higher among offspring of mothers who use cannabis in pregnancy, although less statistically robust. We emphasize a cautious interpretation of these findings given the likelihood of residual confounding.

Dr Daniel Corsi, an epidemiologist at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, co-authored the study. “There is an important parallel with alcohol use,” an August 10 Guardian article quotes Corsi as saying. “Now the universal recommendation is no alcohol use in pregnancy and I think a similar recommendation should be made for no cannabis use in pregnancy.”

Cannabis for chronic pain

Through a review of existing studies, researchers at the University of Arizona assessed if medical cannabis (MC) used in combination with opioids to treat non-cancer chronic pain would reduce opioid dosage. They published their work in the journal Systematic Reviews, which posted it online on July 28.

The researchers looked at nine studies from four databases, involving 7,222 patients. “This review found a much higher reduction in opioid dosage, reduced emergency room visits, and hospital admissions for chronic non-cancer pain by MC users, compared to people with no additional use of MC,” the authors wrote. “There was 64–75% reduction in opioid dosage for MC users and complete stoppage of opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain by 32–59.3% of MC users, when compared to patients without additional use of MC.”

In their conclusion, the authors note that cannabis has potential as a viable option to achieve opioid dosage reduction. On the other hand, they also acknowledge that “the design of included studies provides a limited basis on which to make a rational, evidence-based recommendation.”

As the USA grapples with the opioid abuse epidemic and searches for less addictive alternatives, experimental studies are urgently needed to assess the effects of cannabis on non-cancer chronic pain as well as its potential to reduce the need for opioids. If cannabis is found to be effective in reducing non-cancer chronic pain, it could serve as a viable substitute for prescription opioids, thus mitigating the opioid epidemic.

In May, CannCentral reported on a study of cannabis use in Vancouver. It found that people who use cannabis for pain relief and other therapeutic reasons may be at lower risk of overdosing on opioids. That research appeared in PLOS ONE.

Thanks for the tip

Have you read a recent study that sheds new light on the topic of cannabis? Are you a baby boomer carrying out your own research into the impact of daily cannabis use? Are you a researcher working on a clinical trial? If so, send me a link and I might feature it in a future edition of CannCentral’s Research Roundup. Thanks!

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