We know baby boomers have begun to embrace cannabis in recent years, thanks to legalization and awareness trends. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the 50-and-over crowd increased “significantly” from 2006 to 2013. However, the numbers started to drop with the 65-and-over crowd. However, that trend could change in the coming years thanks to further marijuana outreach campaigns within legalized communities. A chain of Seattle retirement homes recently took its residents on a Pot for Beginners tour to learn more about cannabis—and buy some, if the resident were so interested. The goal was provide information about the methods of consumption and the various applications marijuana can have in treating medical ailments.
“You can only play so many games of bingo,” Connie Schick told the Guardian. “My son thought it was hilarious that I was coming here, but I’m open-minded and want to stay informed. Cannabis has come so far from the days when you smoked a sly joint and got into trouble if they found out. We used to call it hemp then and didn’t know its strength. It just used to make me sleepy, so I didn’t see the point.”
Shick uses a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. So she was particularly interested in how marijuana can be used to treat pain.
“It’s so different now,” Schick said. “There are so many ways you can take it, and all these different types to help with aches and pains.”
According to a Gallup poll, more than 3% of the 65-and-older crowd smokes cannabis. This comes a time when individuals with two or more chronic conditions who used cannabis over the past year doubled. In addition, cannabis is being used to treat medical conditions that usually strike older crowds.
The Pot for Beginners tour came out of a desire from the residents. Baby boomers who once dabbled with the drug in their youth are now returning to cannabis for recreational and medicinal benefits. But first they had a few questions.
“They wanted to know where it was sold, how much money was made from it, where it was grown,” said Tracy Willis, who is resident home chain’s director of corporate development. “We’ve had a good reaction [to the tours] from nine out of 10 relatives, but some are horrified. One angry daughter said we were encouraging marijuana use. Her mother told her to butt out.”
The Pot for Beginners tour isn’t the only outreach program occurring across the country. As the New York Daily News reported earlier this year, one New York cannabis company was employing a similar strategy to help the state’s new medical marijuana program. Etain is one of the five companies licensed to grow and sell medical marijuana in the state. To help educate and provide their services to older folks, they’ve been contacting senior and long-term health care centers.
Under the arrangement being offered by Etain, the company would work with a nursing home and help its medical staff register with the state to certify patients for the drug. The company would then, under the state’s newly-authorized home delivery program, deliver the pot directly to patients or family members, who would administer the drug themselves.
There are promising signs regarding how marijuana can treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We’ve also seen how cannabis can benefit patients with chronic pain diseases like Trigeminal Neuralgia. So if marijuana can help older folks, it’s no wonder why they’d want to learn more.