Cannabis inches closer to mainstream acceptance every day. Through legalization efforts, rebranding, and medical patients of various walks of life, old and negative attitudes toward cannabis have faded. According to a Gallup Poll last month, two out of three American support legalizing marijuana.
But old habits die hard and reefer madness lingers. Though seniors account for the fastest-growing base of cannabis users, they’re also more likely to cling to old stoner stigmas. To be fair, the propaganda from the War on Drugs in the 1930s was pervasive and persuasive. As Alexandra Chasin, author of Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger’s War on Drugs, recently told Ozy, the government took many liberties in characterizing this plant that many in the population didn’t know.
“The Reefer Madness campaign was an attempt to create a narcotics scare and, in particular, to paint marijuana as a narcotic that was as dangerous as heroin and cocaine,” she said.
“The image of marijuana was that it caused violent insanity,” Chasin added.
It helps explain why some seniors, who would otherwise be suitable patients for using cannabis as a medicine, feel embarrassed about taking the drug or refuse it all together. News Channel 5 Network shone a spotlight on this dilemma through Greg Saweikis, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer back in 2017. He takes CBD and THC pills, in addition to using a topical for his hands.
“I think there is a large stigma, still,” Saweikis said. “And it’s just a holdover from the 60s and the whole, you know, from demonstrations and all of that kind of thing.”
Leland Rucker, an editor at Sensi magazine, explained that Saweikis isn’t alone in this attitude. Seniors can feel trapped in exploring cannabis because of propaganda from more than 80 years ago.
“I talked to one woman who it really helped her start to sleep. She’s all of a sudden sleeping much better, but she was embarrassed about,” Rucker told Channel 5. “She was embarrassed to talk to people about it, because she had been so cannabis negative all of her life.”
As more states legalize cannabis and the plant becomes more mainstream, hopefully that embarrassment will fall away.