Pot and Senior Citizens: It’s a Natural Fit

As another year draws to a close, and I turn another year older, I am reminded how nicely marijuana compliments the aging process. And yet, because of the fears and misconceptions from the decades-long “reefer madness” government propaganda campaign, most seniors today remain unaware of the benefits and pleasures of cannabis. Those over 65 years of age remain the only demographic in the country who do not yet support marijuana legalization. We need to change that.

Marijuana and Health

First, aging brings a host of natural aches and pains, many of which are best remedied with a little marijuana smoking. Most of us who qualify as seniors end up with a growing list of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by our physicians, most of which have some undesirable side-effects, some minor and some not so minor. Recent research has documented that those who use marijuana to treat the symptoms of their conditions generally use fewer dangerous, Schedule 2 narcotics, avoiding the inevitable unpleasant side-effects those drugs bring, along with their palliative effects.

Improving the Quality of Life for Seniors

But primarily the point I would like to make in this column is the positive role marijuana can play in an older individual’s life, beyond the traditional medical applications. That is, marijuana can help enhance the quality of life at a time when most seniors have time on their hands and can explore facets of life that might have been missed when one’s career or family responsibilities consumed every available moment. We can now slow down and smell the flowers.

Many older citizens fill their time by traveling more extensively than before; some spend more time playing golf or tennis or some other sport that may have been only an occasional diversion during their earlier years; and many pursue an intellectual search to learn more about the world around them, an option made enormously more attractive with the internet.

And each of these uses of their free time, and many more, can be enhanced with the use of marijuana.

With a couple of hits of high-quality weed, one might be inclined to finally take the time to learn that foreign language you have always wanted to master; or to research the family tree to learn your family’s history; or to more fully understand some of the serious social and environmental challenges with which we are confronted today.

There are wonderful, creative ways to spend free time when your mind is open to new experiences.

Opening the Doors of Perception

The marijuana high, when used properly, opens the doors of perception and allows us to ask ourselves questions we might not have asked before, when we were overwhelmed with the challenges of everyday life – it stimulates one’s intellectual curiosity.

By the nature of our existence, as we grow older we naturally ponder the reality that we are mortal and will not live forever, and that none of us are certain precisely what that means. It is the nature of the human experience that some of these question are beyond our ability to answer.

Marijuana can be an entheogen that helps one achieve a degree of calmness about such imponderable spiritual questions, and allows us to set those issues aside while we enjoy each day, even with all of life’s uncertainties and challenges.

 

And finally, the marijuana high can turn an otherwise ordinary time into a special experience. Marijuana enhances the pleasures we derive from spending time with family and friends; from good music and good food, however one defines those things; and from those ordinary things that bring us joy each day, such as seeing a new-born baby, listening to the birds chirp in the morning, smelling the distinctive aroma of spring flowers, playing with our pets, or watching our grandchildren develop into younger versions of ourselves.

This seems to me to be the most useful aspect of the marijuana high; it allows us to find value and richness in the ordinary.

For seniors who enjoy smoking marijuana, there is really no such thing as “too much time on our hands.” It’s all good time that we can use to enrich our lives.

I sometimes think marijuana is wasted on the young; it really is best suited for those of us who are now senior citizens, with discretionary time, and enjoying every minute of it.

Stoner Seniors. It has a nice ring to it!

35 thoughts

  1. I will turn 60 in 2016. I’ve used cannabis since age 15 and have had a very successful life. I’m certainly not the only person with a similar story. Most of my friends are in their 50s and 60s and enjoy cannabis. Neither I nor any of my friends have any kind of problem with it and none of us hurt anyone as a result of our enjoyment of the herb.

    Can’t our friggin’ Govt at least allow for seniors to use it legally? I mean, what could possibly be wrong with someone 60+ using it in their own home; or growing their own if they can’t buy it legally?

    I’m so tired of Big Brother (like Chris Christie and those like him) trying to thwart the will of the people and support the fraud of marijuana prohibition.

    My friends and I all hope to be legal before we die! It really sucks beyond imagination to be considered a criminal for my usage even though I’ve not broken any other laws! I’m a good citizen and my neighbors all like me and consider me to be someone they could call on if they needed help. Still, here in Virginia, if I was to get caught with it somehow (perhaps if I reported a home invasion and the police searched my premises) I would probably go straight to jail. Unbelievable it is still illegal anywhere in a country that is supposed to be a democracy and was called “The Land of the Free”.

    Our countries leaders should be ashamed!

    Bernie Sanders is currently the only candidate that I support. I will vote for Hilary only if she is the Democratic candidate since the Republicans seem to be firmly on the side of Big Brother and prohibition. I know there are some Republican exceptions, but the part in general seems very Un-American and anti-freedom as far as I can tell.

  2. I’m also pushing 60 and have been smoking since age 15. Unlike Miles, I do not share the good fortune of having “most” of my friends be pot smokers. I wish it were true, but unfortunately I’ve actually lost friends simply by disclosing that I’m even in favor of legalizing marijuana, let alone smoking it, let alone on a daily basis!

    Ironically, I’m in the minority of my same-aged friends in that I can still: get down on the floor and get up, not taking a single prescription outside of an occasional temporary medication, not 50+ lbs overweight.

    I never thought that at this ripe old age I’d still be able to do:
    a cartwheel
    a flying camel
    an Ollie

    but now after over 40 years of smoking marijuana (could anyone say the same about 40 years of smoking cigarettes?-I doubt it), I can proudly say that:
    I’m well-educated and professionally advanced

    I’m in outrageously good health and I take no prescription medications

    my biggest health complaints are an occasional sports injury (from which I quickly and completely heal) including this year 10 stitches on my scalp

    my credit score is in the very good range

    even my mother is starting to think that maybe smoking pot isn’t such a bad thing

    It’s ironic that the Republicans like to champion for individual rights so much, especially when it’s the rights of a corporate executive, but when it comes to marijuana and the average worker, it’s big-business brother rules.

  3. Well said, Miles. Well said.

    I agree about Bernie,
    but I think Hillary is about as bad as most of the GOP, (notwithstanding Christie, that guy is something else…)

  4. Looking at the great times in the past are more enjoyable on weed. It may bring back the old laughter while reliving those dreams again, and bringing back memorable friends who have pasted on. I’m going to smoke a lot of weed and enjoy being old.

  5. That’s right Keith, I’m 59, And have been enjoying weed since age 19. Oh and I am not a spoiled child like like the way prohibition likes to portray pot-heads. I’ve always had to work darn hard for everything.

  6. Excellent.

    Good work, Keith and team NORML.
    And, thanks for the excellent writeups, here,
    by my fellow visitors.

    Regardless of which of the candidates for the presidency
    you side with – I would strongly posit that

    IT IS ONLY THROUGH MAKING THE POLITICIANS UNDERSTAND

    THAT LEGALIZATION IS IN THEIR BEST INTEREST

    because, clearly, even with legalization being in tax-payer interest,
    and in line with the ideals of
    The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights-

    IT HAS NOT BEEN SHOWN TO BE ‘ENOUGH’.

    So, I urge you to reach out and communicate,
    let the leadership/candidates know that THEIR interests of power and authority are significantly impacted by their stance on, and efforts relevant to our right to legally possess, partake, and transact cannabis.

  7. The smoothness of a good hit from a good vaporizor with glass straw, ceramic bowl, and water filter is pretty dang good too.

  8. @Ben – I I think you are right about Hillary. In fact I have reconsidered and have decided that if Hillary becomes the Democratic nominee I will have to consider voting for whoever becomes the Republican candidate.

    Regarding Chris Christie, I think that it speaks volumes that he is the darling of the Republican party.

  9. @oldvaper – 99% of the time I use vaporizer. Having tried several I now own one called the herbalizer and I love it !

  10. You’re absolutely right! Cannabis is great for both enhancing the pleasures of our elder years while it takes care of many of its hassles. It’s most notable goody is its ability to ameliorate the horrendous anxiety associated with dementia.

    Last year, a 101-year-old friend was going downhill fast. Dementia was a part of her trajectory. Her anxiety became so profound that her daughter was forced to consider institutionalizing her, which would have broken both their hearts. Instead, they tried a CBD-balanced strain. It worked immediately for both of them. With the anxst out of the way, they were able to relate for more comfortably during her last few weeks. She died peacefully surrounded by friends and family in her own bed.

    Years earlier, I got to assist my husband and father as they were overtaken with dementia on opposite coasts. Dad lived in Florida. We were in California. My husband used cannabis recreationally. As his dementia became more pronounced, he wanted more. It worked beautifully. His condition continued to deteriorate, but he was never beyond finding peace through his pipe.

    My father’s trajectory was different. Cannabis wasn’t acceptable. He and Mom had no room in their consciousness to consider the potential benefits. My dad existed in a state of chronic anxiety in an institution for years before his death.

    Thank you for shining your light on some of the many roles cannabis can play in the lives of us oldsters. As the Senior Tsunami rolls ashore, our culture can be well served by reopening our minds to the healing power of this magnificent herb!

  11. *Nods in agreement to Miles*

    I did a little research to see who in the Repub side might be in line with our stance on this topic, and I found this…

    Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP)
    http://www.rampgop.org/

    Hmmmmm…

  12. Keith, thank you for pointing out that marijuana opens the doors of perception and allows us to ask ourselves questions we might not have asked before. Here is a paragraph I recently wrote thanks to a lot of such pondering. It is based on the reasons that a camera does not experience what it sees whereas a person does.

    The domain of self-awareness seems to be a virtual space that needs to exist because distant objects we see are tangible in this domain as exact and vivid renderings of the real objects to the self even if you can’t reach and touch the real object in the real world. For example, knowing what time it is by looking at a clock. We can experience vision in high definition but only after spatial objects are mapped or copied into an emotional tactile space. A tactile or sensory experience is a living interaction of the self with a real object in the real world and not achieved by creating a detailed electrical copy of the object. Therefore, the dimensions of the domain of self-awareness are the postures and poses of the bones.

  13. @Ben – The ramp GOP website is interesting. I’m disappointed that there is not a single senator or congressman or governor or mayor or anyone else in a real position of power who is a part of it.

  14. At 55 years old, I find myself at, or near, the cusp between the political perspectives on marijuana; and, having spent formative years growing up in the Bible belt, when selling marijuana was considered more criminal than shooting someone, I can feel the pull in both directions. But I worked all that out, now I’m a proud Stoner Senior!
    Excellent article, Keith, thanks for the wisdom.

  15. I am also a proud stoner senior, I started smoking in the 60’s. Had to quit in the 80’s for work,drug testing. Now I no longer work and I have returned to enjoying weed. My currant challenge is I am a kidney dialysis patient waiting for a transplant. My transplant center won’t put me on a transplant list because it is against federal law. Is there any help for people like me.

  16. I am a proud stoner senior. I started smoking in the 60’s, but hat to quit in the 80’s. Now that I no longer work I have starting again. My challenge is I am now a kidney dialysis patient, and my kidney transplant center wont put me on the transplant list. I have been doing dialysis for eight yr’s and all my doctors say I am in good health and no reason I cant have a transplant. I am not asking just for myself, but I know there must be other people with my same issue. Is there any help for us,or must we move to a more free state, witch I can’t afford at this time?

  17. I had made a general determination that I wasn’t going to vote for anyone named Bush or Clinton. Indeed, I feel my generation’s era has passed. I am reminded of it incessantly. ‘Playboy’ isn’t going to publish nude photos of women anymore?!! My era has passed. It’s time to pass the torch to the younger folks, just like we’ve been passing them our debts ever since Ronald Reagan taught us deficits don’t matter.

    I’m cancelling my damn subscription, too.

    I feel that Hillary has earned the nomination both in terms of work experience and investigations. She’s been the Dem’s nominee apparent ever since the Obama ascension, and the GOP strategy has been to tarnish her reputation with one bogus scandal after another.

    Politics is a repulsive, ugly game, played dirty this way. We spent $70 million on the Whitewater investigation. Results: We found out Bill Clinton likes young women and blow jobs. Seventy million dollars to find out some guy like young women and blow jobs! I coulda told ’em that for half the price. Hell, I woulda gladly told ’em. The only good thing to come out of the investigation was Bush 2.0’s comment upon first entering the Oval Office. He wanted to have it hosed down.

  18. At the debates I see this stage full of hard working men and women ready and willing to take on a tough, dirty job that will literally turn your hair prematurely gray if you last for 8 years. A job that I know damn well I couldn’t do half as well as any one of them.

    I also see a bunch of lowlife scum with morals somewhere between those of the drug cartels and a ring of pederasts. That’s how their own political advertising has taught me to view them.

    Waddayacall 10,000 politicians at the bottom of the ocean?

    A good start.

    Somebody give me a reason not vote for Hillary. Right now, I would do it gladly. I didn’t expect any more movement on marijuana from a national, mainstream politician.

    I remember making the quip here that it would take 4 years of president Hillary to wake the GOP up — to start undoing the image of the conservative as an obnoxious, lowbrowed malcontent constantly griping about something other.

    I suddenly find myself now watching to see if this bold prognostication will actually come to pass!

  19. Hello and Merry Christmas Everyone
    “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
    gandhi
    “Forgiveness frees you of your enemies power to hurt you.”

  20. I guess my Christmas comment about forgiveness is inappropriate on this forum as well as in most other communications in western political self professed intelligent men. Forgiveness has no place here especially a quote from Gandhi, whose political genius is incomprehensible by you self-professed political geniuses. That is where Male dominated western politics shows their weakness. How sad., your limited minds appear to Gandhi and women like Hillary.

  21. @oldvaper – Appx 18 mos ago the Vapexhale vaporizer was the one I was using and it is the second best I’ve ever tried; my new Herbalizer being #1. In particular, I like blowing up bags full of vapor and then inhaling it in 7 to 8 breaths. That, for me, is usually plenty for the day. The quantity that I use is about 1/4 of a joint and the buzz is high quality!

    When I got the herbalizer, prior to trying it out, I didn’t think using the bags was something I’d like but now it it’s my primary way to take my medicine 🙂

    Knowing what I know now, as far back as 3 to 4 years ago I would’ve tried the volcano…

    Cheers, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

  22. I’m 61, smoked throughout the 1970’s, had a job with drug testing, retired, started back up with a vaporizer. I started having sleep problems at the end of my career, and now, I do a vaporizer bag before bed, and I sleep 8 to 10 hours a night, I think a lot of us who are aging don’t sleep well, hmmmm!!!

  23. I’m 60 yrs old and Ive been smoking Marijuana since I was 16. I have Chronic Pain from Spinal Stenosis and Nerve damage now and Marijuana relieves the Severe Pain, I also Smoke to Relieve Anxiety’s and Relax plus it gives me an Appetite which I normally don’t have..Wanting Missouri to legalize

    [Editor’s note: To be up-to-date on all things marijuana in MO, contact MO NORML chapters or ShowMeCannabis.]

  24. Absolutely right, I will be 58 this month, no prescriptions, work every day, take care of business, and have out lived many people who chose a LEGAL prescription drug or drank themselves to an early grave. Or just went through life being miserable and never even trying pot because it would be the wrong thing to do…

  25. I have a few more years to work before retirement. I live in Texas and we will one of the last states to get our head out of our ass. You can bet when I get to that golden age I am going to smoke it up.

  26. I have consumed cannabis since 18 until 50. I have had many good, healthy,happy years and believe cannabis has played a great part of it. I am surrounded by a loving family, always worked for a living,was raised with good morals and have always felt fortunate in life. I never quite new just how much cannabis enhanced my life until 7 years ago my employer of 37 years started hair testing. I am still a very fortunate man with all that I have spoken of except, I have lost the creativity, curiosity, open minded feeling that cannabis has ALWAYS given.it has also been a GREAT benefit where anxiety, depression, a.d.d. is concerned as I battle them. I miss it dearly and some have said becaused I was “hooked” on it…I call bullshit straight up! I truly believe that the older one gets, the better life would be for incorporating cannabis into their lives.
    thank you norml for a place to speak the truth about “the remedy” as I call it and I wish many non believers could find a way to open up and read these things here and allow it to change their hearts on this issue. thank you all and wishes for an awesome new year to you all!

  27. I’m 76 I was almost 21 my first time. except while pregnant I’ve been fairly regular as it was medicating a problem I didn’t know I had. (bi polar) I marched with Martin Luther King and on Saturday I’ll be here in Sydney Australia at a cannabis rally. My hope is that we will bring about changes that will allow me to legally grow and enjoy a little plant of my own. I am grateful for the part of the year I spend in Los Angeles where I can visit dispensaries. Can’t grow it there tho I do remember smoking with a few of them who now don’t want to admit it.

  28. I am 67 years old and have been smoking since I was about 20. I have a beck problem currently that is not serious enough for surgery and I’m taking an opiate pain med. I can’t get my pain med until I pass a urine test for pot. I have never had any ill effects from smoking pot, I am a good citizen and neighbor. I have had a very good job until I retired 3 years ago. Now I spend my time taking a drug that has all kinds of bad side effects and reminiscing about being stoned!It’s just not fair, especially for seniors!!

  29. Ok….brand new to pot person here, and ready to climb on board. I would like to ask for a little guidance, where to start? There are so many products, so much information! Would one of you be kind enough to distill some of it down for me? Not much of a smoker, other options sound better.
    Thanks! Cindy

    [Paul Armentano responds: Please see: Marijuana: A Primer here: http://norml.org/aboutmarijuana/marijuana-a-primer and a summary of the relevant research here: http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana.%5D

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