Laughing senior man using laptop computer at home

Retirees and others aged 65 and up are Canada’s fastest-growing group of cannabis users, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The national statistical agency reported that, while cannabis use is less prevalent among Canadians aged 65 and older, seniors’ cannabis consumption is growing at a much faster rate than that of younger people.

StatsCan reported that 7% of people over 65 are using cannabis, compared with 10% of the 45-64 age group and 25% of those aged 25 to 44.

But the growth in cannabis usage among seniors has been explosive. According to StatsCan data, back in 2012, less than 1% of seniors — about 40,000 — were cannabis users. Today, more than 400,000 have used cannabis in the past three months.

As a result, StatsCan said the average age of cannabis users in Canada has also jumped from 29.4 years in 2004 to 38.1 years in 2019.

Seniors are also much more likely to be trying the drug for the first time.

StatsCan said that data for the second and third quarters indicate that there are about 578,000 first-time cannabis users in Canada, and that the incidence of first-time use increases with age.

For example, among those aged 25 to 44, 10% were new users in the second and third quarters of 2019, compared with 27% of users aged 65 and older.

These new, senior cannabis users are generally more likely to purchase their drugs from a legal source, as opposed to an illegal dealer, StatsCan said. They are also more likely to be using cannabis for medical reasons.

Just over half of seniors (52%) reported using cannabis for purely medical reasons, while 24% said they use it recreationally and 24% said they use it for both purposes.