More and more seniors are using marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the reason for this is not hard to understand. By age of 65, many seniors can have several different chronic illnesses to manage every day including chronic pain, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and insomnia. The traditional approach is to treat these diseases with pharmaceuticals that often come with negative side effects. However, seniors are discovering that many of these chronic conditions can be treated with medical marijuana, minus the negative side effects.
At first, seniors will be skeptical. They’re under the misconception that marijuana is something for young people looking to get high rather than a legitimate medicine. Once they open up to the possibility of using marijuana as medication, they are pleasantly surprised at how well it works. Most do not smoke it with the intention of getting high. Many prefer edibles, which allows them to enjoy the medicinal powers without the psychoactive effects.
Pain, anxiety, and depression are conditions that makes it difficult sleep, and this affects many other aspects of life, which leads to even more health complications. Many seniors find that a couple of puffs on a pipe before bed, or a bite of a cannabis-infused brownie, can be just the thing to give them a solid night’s sleep. Marijuana is also a strong anti-nauseant so not only seniors, but anyone undergoing chemotherapy can benefit, as it will settle their stomach and make them hungry. The beauty of it is that one joint can do the same job as a handful of pills.
“One medication (cannabis) for 20 ailments instead of 20 pills from one condition and another 19 for side effects like heartburn for sleeping meds, antidepressants for the sleeping pills, etc. The side effects cause more problems. As we get older, we have more issues,” writes Dr. Beth Fisher, a senior citizen medical marijuana user and moderator of seniormedicalcannabis.com.
Craig Jones, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada, told the Globe & Mail he sees a trend among baby boomers that are discovering medicinal benefits in a drug they tried socially in their youth. “For some older people, they never bought into the hysteria, the reefer madness, and they circled back to it because they enjoyed the experience, the side effects as they call it, and it’s an easily tolerated analgesic for chronic non-malignant pain,” Jones said.
In the US, seniors seeking access to medicinal marijuana have a battle on their hands. In many states you can go to jail just for possessing even a gram of cannabis. Seniors want to comply with the law, but to do that and gain access to medical marijuana is challenging.
Some older Americans are hoping to spread the word about the benefits of marijuana. The Silver Tour , founded by Robert Platshorn in 2010, is a non-profit organization with the mandate of educating seniors about the value of marijuana as medicine, and lobbying for better access to it. Platshorn spent almost 30 years in jail for being involved in a marijuana smuggling ring in the 1970s. Since his release, he has dedicated his life to lobbying for the cause convinced that seniors need it more than anyone else.
Historically, seniors have been known to clamour to voting booths, and Platshorn believes that politicians will listen to these constituents. As he says, there is nothing more terrifying to a politician than a group of angry seniors.