When company stops by her home in Akron, Ohio, she offers a joint, and when it’s someone’s birthday, a bong is prepared. She even hosts summer campfires where the older folk listen to the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles; eat grilled steaks and hot dogs; and get high (not necessarily in that order).
“It’s nice,” Ms. Neufer said. “It’s just a social thing. It’s like when people get together, and they crack open their beers.”
Statistics suggest that more members of the older generations, like Ms. Neufer, are using marijuana. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2011 that 6.3 percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 59 used the drug. That number has risen from 2.7 percent in 2002.
And anecdotal evidence points to much of this use being sociable rather than medical.
It makes sense that the baby boom generation and people a little younger might be more casual and open about marijuana use; after all, they grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, when getting high was the norm. According to Richard J. Bonnie, the author of “Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States,” in 1971 a national commission on marijuana drug use even recommended decriminalizing the drug, something that, for many people, was “recognized as a perfectly sensible proposal,” he said.
Some pot smokers of decades ago simply never stopped indulging with their friends. Indeed, Ms. Neufer, a self-proclaimed hippie (“I will be forever in my heart, and in my mind,” she said), started smoking at 21 and has been growing pot in her backyard and organizing drug-fueled sing-alongs ever since.
She pointed out that those who have moved on from corporate work might feel more comfortable revealing and sharing their marijuana use.
“Most of us are either retiring or are retired,” Ms. Neufer said. “You don’t have to worry about your job knowing, so it’s a little easier for us. I don’t care if you use my name, I don’t care if they know!”