Marijuana Smoking on Rise for Seniors

*Also check out Alternet: Why Growing Numbers of Baby Boomers and the Elderly Are Smoking Pot

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By Gina Gomez – mariTHAINDIAN NEWS

A recent survey shows that there is an increase in the number of senior citizens using marijuana. Though one of the most popular of illicit drugs in the country, people who were in their teens during 1960s and 1970s were more exposed to it. According to latest reports, people who are 50 or older, admitted that they consumed marijuana when they were young. In the last year there was a rise of 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent in the number of marijuana smokers, in the senior age group, as compared to 2002 to 2008. The rise was mostly traced in people aged 55-59 years. Their use of marijuana nearly tripled from 1.6 percent to 5.1 percent in a few years.

An increase in marijuana use is expected in the years to follow. Marijuana was not a taboo for people who were in their late teens during 1945 and 1964. Some of them have continued to consume marijuana from their youth till now. On the other hand, some senior citizens took to the addiction after their retirement.

Some senior people who are suffering from some kind of illness said that none of the drugs could help them overcome it except marijuana. Perry Parks, a 67-year-old Army pilot said he suffered severe pain from arthritis and degenerative disc disease. He tried all kinds of medicines, but nothing helped. 2 years back, he started using marijuana which he had tried during his college days. He said, it really worked and added, “I am essentially pain free.” Some of the people who are more than 50 years prefer marijuana to sleeping pills. They admit that despite taking sleeping pills, they could not sleep. However, marijuana worked wonders.

Instead of suggesting ice cream to help Grandma deal with this tough economy, like in the olden days, it appears we just need to get Grandma some pot. Hmm. Actually, after Grandma steps outside to smoke herself a J, (ala Paul Simon), then she’ll really want that bowl of ice cream. Hey, two birds with one stone. No pun intended.

In these changing and troubling times, more and more of the AARP Set, those who came of age in the 1960’s and 1970’s, are discovering, or rediscovering in some cases, that smoking some marijuana hits the spot. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported that for folks over 50, marijuana usage has increased from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent from 2002 to 2008. However, it is those young punks in the 55 – 59 year old range, whose reported marijuana use more than tripled from 1.6 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent. Dude, where’s my walker?

Currently there are 78 million boomers born between the years of 1945 and 1964, and they are weed savvy. Smoking pot for them just doesn’t carry the same stigma it does for the Leave It To Beaver squares they grew up with. However, as they age and face the pains and aches that come with the passing of time, they easily return to some good old-fashioned toking to take the edge off.

Florence Siegel, an 88-year old retiree in Miami, discovered weed recently and smokes it to relieve the pain of arthritis in her back and legs. She walks with a cane, and finds that after blazing up, she sleeps better than she ever did with sleeping pills. She is perplexed as to why other folks her age aren’t getting some.

“They’re missing a lot of fun and a lot of relief.”

Seizing on this new trend in elderly doobage enjoyment, Keith Stroup, the founder and lawyer of NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, is thrilled.

“For the longest time, our political opponents were older Americans who were not familiar with marijuana and had lived through the ‘Reefer Madness’ mentality and they considered marijuana a very dangerous drug. Now, whether they resume the habit of smoking or whether they simply understand that it’s no big deal and that it shouldn’t be a crime, in large numbers they’re on our side of the issue.”

At 66-years old, Mr. Stroup rolls himself a doobie nightly. His take on it?

“The kids are grown, they’re out of school, you’ve got time on your hands and frankly it’s a time when you can really enjoy marijuana. Food tastes better, music sounds better, sex is more enjoyable.”

Thanks, Mr. Stroup. Could have done without the 66-year old having sex images that comment brought up.

Marijuana is given the nod for relieving problems associated with aging: aches and pains, glaucoma, macular degeneration. In 14 States right now, this drug enjoys medicinal marijuana laws that are cool with smoking some weed. For those where it is still illegal, they go to the local high schools and make their scores, or they grow it themselves.

Not everyone is down with the ganja for the elderly. Dr. William Dale, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, says that weed can make the elderly dizzy, it increases their heart rates, and can cause some gnarly cognitive impairment. “There are other better ways to achieve the same effects.”

Pete Delany, director of applied studies at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, chimes in:

“When you think about people who are 50 and older you don’t generally think of them as using illicit drugs — the occasional Hunter Thompson or the kind of hippie dippie guy that gets a lot of press maybe. As a nation, it’s important to us to say, ‘It’s not just young people using drugs it’s older people using drugs.’”

Oh, the times they are a changin’, huh Mr. Dylan?


2 thoughts on “Marijuana Smoking on Rise for Seniors

  1. Pingback: Rise In Seniors Smoking Marijuana « Life Blog

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