Seniors’ medical pot collective stirs up trouble

Seniors at the Laguna Woods Village retirement Community formed a non-profit, patient-run medical marijuana collective.

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. — Source: Seattle Times June 11, 2011

Joe Schwartz is a 90-year-old great-grandfather of three who enjoys a few puffs of pot each night before he crawls into bed in the Southern California retirement community he calls home. Continue reading

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.
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Senior Citizens and Medical Marijuana/Cannabis

Orange County Seniors demand Medical Marijuana

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The following  is a transcript of an audio interview which you can listen to here.

(August 11, 2009)  It’s been 13 years since California voters approved “medical marijuana,” but we’re a long way from treating cannabis as medicine. Cities and counties still struggle to make sure dispensaries run more like pharmacies than pot shops. It’s different in south Orange County’s Laguna Woods, where you’ll find the Leisure World retirement community. A growing number of seniors there want marijuana for its medicinal value only, and they’re moving carefully to set up a dispensary. KPCC’s Debra Baer reports.

Debra Baer: For decades, Leisure World’s resort lifestyle has attracted retirees to its swimming pools and golf greens, tennis courts and dance halls. Margo Bouer’s passion is synchronized swimming.

Margo Bouer: The water’s magnificent. I’m me in the water. This is what keeps me alive!

Baer: The 73-year-old is one of the younger members of the Aquadettes. The women perform synchronized choreographed routines for the retirement community. Today they’re rehearsing a new production.

Coach: For the beginning, Mickey, you had your feet clear up on Margo’s knee. All the feet have to be on top of each other. It got all out of whack!

Baer: Margo Bouer is a retired nurse. She and her husband moved from Chicago to Laguna Woods, the city that’s home to Leisure World. For Margo, swimming means relief from Multiple Sclerosis.

In the water, she doesn’t shake or lose her balance, need a walker or worry about her latest symptom from MS.

Bouer: Suddenly I’d have a wave of nausea and from that wave, I’d vomit and I’d vomit from the tip of my toes all the way up, and I had no clue as to what was going on.

Baer: It got so bad she had to stop eating.

Bouer: If I had a gun right now, would I use it? That’s what came to mind. That’s how desperate I felt.

Baer: A neighbor invited her to a meeting about medical marijuana. It was a stretch for a former psychiatric nurse whose generation was conditioned to think that cannabis was little more than a gateway to harder drugs.

Bouer: I had nothing to lose; I’m close to dying anyhow.

Baer: After the meeting a woman offered help, a woman she calls her “angel.”

Bouer: She gave me that little pipe. That night, I’m sitting out on my balcony. That wave of nausea came. I lit that pipe and I just held it in my mouth afraid to even inhale, but I held it in my mouth, blew it out – like that. I was so preoccupied; now what’s happened? Well, what happened is that nothing happened except that I wasn’t nauseated.

Baer: Bouer got a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. She says she takes about two puffs a night to control her MS symptoms.

Bill Schwied: Its safety factor is high. No one dies from overdose of marijuana.

Baer: That’s Bill Schwied, the neighbor who encouraged Bouer to find out about cannabis. The 88-year-old doctor is retired from a career in both private practice and public health. Schwied says he’s never used cannabis medicinally, but he recommends it.

Schwied: The only risk involved is the legal risk, which is very frightening to many doctors and patients.

Baer: California was the first state to approve the medical use of marijuana. Twelve others followed. But the federal government still classifies the plant, along with cocaine and heroin, as an illegal Schedule 1, controlled substance with no accepted medical use. Until a few months ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration regularly raided medical marijuana dispensaries.

Schwied: The research so far is very convincing, very stunning. Doctors haven’t read it; they don’t want to read it. The DEA discourages research and we just need more of it to learn more about it. I don’t think it cures everything, but it’s one approach in medicine that the medical profession has kind of ignored.

Baer: Bill Schwied, the retired doctor, and the former nurse Margo Bouer have become vocal advocates, appearing publicly at forums and community meetings.

Bouer: For the first time the nausea dissipated. I sat there and waited for it, and I felt relaxed, and I thought, “Well, it’ll probably return during the night.” But guess what? I slept like a log!

Baer: More than 200 seniors turned out for this panel discussion on medical marijuana. No one spoke against it.

Woman: Can you recommend a doctor?

Baer: Finding a doctor is easy. Finding a place to buy medical marijuana in Laguna Woods is tough. At least, it is now. But some of the people at that panel discussion plan to solve that problem. They want to open Leisure World’s first medical marijuana dispensary.