Emilia Montalvo tried marijuana in high school like so many others, back when sneaking bong hits behind your parents’ backs was half of its allure.
But she had put it far behind her. She started a family and launched a career as a doula in the Washington, D.C., area.
Then, three years ago, the District decriminalized marijuana, and suddenly, what had once been illicit seemed ubiquitous, even in her suburb of Springfield, Va. So at 27, Montalvo decided that she’d try pot again — not to get high or rebel, this time, but maybe just to ease the hum of anxiety. She opted for a vape pen, with its discreet, near-scentless oils.
“It’s getting more comfortable for me as I go out and see more people doing it,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m doing something wrong or illegal.”
A nationwide legalization movement is chipping away at old stigmas — last month, Massachusetts opened the floodgates to recreational marijuana sales, joining California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state, with the District of Columbia perhaps headed the same way. And suddenly, the kind of people who had never tried pot or, like Montalvo, hadn’t touched the stuff in a decade or more, are lining up to try it, even well into adulthood.
The ranks of marijuana users are growing among all adults, but particularly those who are settling into their child-raising, 401(k)-contributing years. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2017, the number of people older than 26 occasionally using marijuana had grown by 3.2 million in three years.
“We see stay-at-home moms, lawyers, chefs, construction workers and baby boomers,” says Case Van Dorne, a co-founder of the Oregon dispensary chain Five Zero Trees.
And as with every other yuppie craze, an industry has