Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

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Millennials, Boomers, and the “New” Cannabis

If you are an expert of all things social media, you’ve likely seen the latest trending meme–“OK boomer”–which exemplifies the generational battle being waged between younger and older adults in the US.

The Millennial generation consist of those born in the 1980s and 90s, though people debate about these edge dates quite fervently (especially those born close to either end). And Baby Boomers of course were born right after World War II.

As economic disparity and the damaging effects of climate change have increased, each generation has come to blame the other for our current situation. Whereas Millennials are called lazy and avocado-toast obsessed, Boomers are held responsible for their generation’s policies or lack thereof. Suffice to say, these groups have very little in common. Except, of course, for their love of cannabis.

Many Boomers were in their teens during the 1960s counterculture. Anti-war hippies led this movement, which was rooted in peace and love. Cannabis use was wrapped into the “flower power” psychedelic experiences and was a symbol of resistance and breaking social norms.

Millennials have grown up in an entirely different world. During their teen years, medical cannabis was being legalized in many states, and they saw the expansion of these laws to include recreational use as well. [1] Cannabis has become a lot more accepted, dare I even say, mainstream.

And Millennials are jumping right in. They are excited by new technology and love their vape pens.

With the advent of these advancements, there are a plethora of methods to consume cannabis that are a far cry from the joints rolled at Woodstock. There’s also higher THC levels. [2] Even CBD-only products—and minor cannabinoid isolates.

But, large businesses are also moving in to try to take advantage of the “new” cannabis wave. Even pharmaceutical companies are getting involved.

While some Boomers aren’t happy about these changes, or may not feel that cannabis requires 3rd-party lab testing when it hadn’t been analyzed for much of their lives, many are embracing the new cannabis wave nonetheless. A study published in 2018 showed that nearly 10% of older adults in their 50s and 60s are using cannabis, as well as nearly 3% of those 65 or older. [3]

So there is no simple dichotomy between these groups when it comes to cannabis because a lot of Millennials are also hesitant about a cannabis “corporate takeover” and Boomers who’ve never used cannabis, but are excited to try it now.

The “new” cannabis movement is a beautiful tapestry of people and products. And, as it continues to evolve, we will likely find diverse sub-groups that enjoy cannabis in unique ways that transcend generational differences altogether.



  1. Pacula, R.L. & Smart, R. “Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Legalization.” Annu Rev Clin Psychol. vol.13, 2017, pp. 397-419. (impact factor: 12.921; cited by: 32)
  2. ElSohly, M.A., et al. “Changes in Cannabis Potency over the Last Two Decades (1995-2014) – Analysis of Current Data in the United States.” Biol Psychiatry. vol.79, no.7, 2016, pp. 613-619. (impact factor: 11.501; cited by: 232)
  3. Han, B.H. & Palamar, J.J. “Marijuana Use by Middle-aged and Older Adults in the United States, 2015-2016.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence. vol.191, 2018, pp. 374-381. impact factor: 3.466; cited by: 10)

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