Cannabis and the Elderly

By Michael Cheng | June 08, 2016

Cannabis is not just for adults and children suffering from rare seizure disorders. According to

the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the elderly are also

getting in on the action. Individuals aged 55-59 years old that used marijuana tripled from

2002-2008. At the moment, most of those people who participated in the SAMHSA survey are

either approaching senior citizenship status, or are already there.

Green Benefits for Senior Citizens

Source: http://www.thesmokingbud.com/node?page=3

Elderly groups are known to suffer from a wide range of serious ailments, such as arthritis,

malnutrition and chronic pain (sometimes, or in most cases a combination of diseases), that are

treated using prescription medicines. Taking a handful of pills every day over a long period of

time can slowly damage the body, leaving the individual physically and mentally depleted.

Furthermore, if the patient is generally inactive, issuing medicine with sedating side effects,

including nausea and drowsiness, could cause the person to become isolated or disconnected

from his or her surroundings. This is why some seniors are turning to cannabis.

“I carry a little container with a rolled cigarette, and if I have nausea I know that it is because I

haven’t taken enough pot,” said Margo Bauer, a 75-year- old patient suffering from chronic

nausea and vomiting (closely linked to her multiple sclerosis diagnosis). Bauer explained that

most people her age are seeking medical marijuana treatments to improve their quality of life.

Accessibility and Education

The two main obstacles that senior citizens are facing, when it comes to cannabis, includes

accessibility and education. The latter issue stems from exposure to decades of anti-marijuana

propaganda, as well as strict cannabis possession and consumption laws. Simply put, some

individuals in their golden years still think weed is illegal throughout the country, and refuse to

acknowledge its medicinal benefits. It also doesn’t help that a handful of assisted living facilities

are shunning medical cannabis groups in fear of losing their business practices.

Sue Taylor, senior outreach coordinator for Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, the

largest cannabis dispensary in the United States, experienced firsthand the obstacles of

reaching out to senior demographics living in care homes. “They wouldn’t let me in, because

they were afraid of losing funding and getting put out of the building for even smoking,” said

Taylor.

Representatives like Taylor are essential for increasing cannabis accessibility for the elderly.

Such individuals are typically unable to go to a local medical dispensary on their own, and

require assistance from a third-party to purchase the herb. "We can't ask a facility staff member

to go in and purchase on behalf of a resident, so what we recommend is finding a collective

that will deliver if the individual is unable to purchase it on their own," highlighted Molly

Davies, vice president of the Elder Abuse Prevention and Ombudsman Services Wise & Healthy

Aging in Los Angeles.

Michael Cheng

Michael is a legal editor with publications for Blackberry, Lifehack.org and R Magazine. He specializes in tech startups, cannabis gadgets and fitness wearables. He enjoys spending time outdoors, being a productive father and partaking in a nightly toke after the end of a long day.

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