Much is made about teen marijuana use, whether or not it’s going up or down (it’s going down as legalization spreads), and for good reason. A favorite line of attack by those who still support cannabis prohibition is the “what about the children?” line; after all, everyone cares about kids and no one is advocating that those under the age of 18 should be able to buy legal marijuana.

But lost in the mountain of evidence that use by those aged 12 to 17 has been declining in recent years is the increasing evidence that older Americans are either returning to marijuana use or are partaking for the first time. In fact, new federal survey data shows 6.7% of those aged 55 to 64 say they have used marijuana in the past month; that number is 6.5% for those aged 12-17.

If you rewind to the year 2002, you see those numbers are a far cry from what they were, with the 12-17 age bracket at about 8% and the 55-64 year olds clocking in at below 2%. Even those aged 65 and older are at 2.4% using in the past month, up from a number that was close to zero 16 years ago.

So why does all this matter? For one, it shows just how deeply the truth about cannabis is penetrating in the consciousness of society. The last age groups to come around to change are usually the older ones. In the case of cannabis, older age groups are also the ones who have been exposed to anti-marijuana propaganda the longest.

These people are learning that what they were told about marijuana was a mountain of lies and that the medicine that could best alleviate many of their ailments was in existence their entire lives. So many older people have come to the realization that they wasted an untold amount of years avoiding cannabis and taking whatever pill their doctors told them to.

As legalization laws spread, more of these older people have the opportunity to see what they have been missing all these years. They can do their own research thanks to the Internet and learn that marijuana is not the dangerous, cancer-causing, gateway to the gutter that they have been told about.

The bottom line is that legalization allows adults to make their own decisions about marijuana use, decisions they should have been free to make all along.