Seniors and Marijuana

Hearing about senior citizens using marijuana may sound a little funny to you, but it is a very real occurrence happening within the United States, thanks to the growing legalization of medical marijuana such as in Nevada (several medical marijuana clinics are coming about). Doctors that prescribe medical marijuana are finding that there is an increase of more and more seniors turning to marijuana for various reasons: pain relief, stress relief, glaucoma, and a multitude of other reasons.

The use of the country's most popular illicit drug is growing among the elderly, as the generation of baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s grows older, and as medical marijuana doctors  and other cities/states in the U.S. open to the public.

The number of people 50 years and older reported using marijuana in the prior year went from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent from the years 2002 to 2008, according to surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

During 2002, the number of people who used marijuana from ages 55 to 59 dramatically rose.  Reported marijuana use more than tripled from 1.6 percent to 5.1 percent.

For many elderly people, marijuana never held the same stigma it did for previous generations, and they tried marijuana decades ago. With this, doctors that prescribe medical marijuana and other observers expect more increases as 78 million boomers born between 1945 and 1964 age.

Elderly people tend to use marijuana for many different reasons, such as: some have used it ever since they were younger; others revisit the habit of using marijuana in retirement, either for helping with pains and aches of aging or for recreation; pain relief; or just for a way to relax.

One woman used a cane to walk because of the severe arthritis in her legs and back.  She claimed that using marijuana helped her sleep better than she ever did with pills.  She doesn't understand why everyone else her age isn't using marijuana to help with the pains and struggles of aging.

Senior citizens using marijuana could really help with the battle to legalize marijuana.  Advocates for legalizing marijuana say the number of older users could really help their decades-long push to change the laws.

Keith Stroup, the founder and lawyer of NORML, a marijuana advocacy group is 66 years old and an avid marijuana user.  He says that he has been using marijuana since he was a freshman at Georgetown.  Stroup claims that every night he sits down to the evening news, pours himself a glass of wine and rolls a joint.  He says marijuana “makes food taste better, music sound better, and sex is more enjoyable.”

Marijuana is said to help relieve tons of problems people have with aging, such as: glaucoma, macular degeneration, pains and aches, etc.  Elderly patients in 14 states, including those who refer to medical marijuana clinics in Nevada, appreciate the medical marijuana laws, but those elsewhere buy or grow marijuana illegally to ease their pains.  This is why doctors that prescribe marijuana in Nevada advocate legalizing medical marijuana in other states as well.

Another example of an elderly person benefiting from marijuana is a 67 year old man from North Carolina.  He is a retired Army pilot who suffered from degenerative disc disease and arthritis.  He experimented with all types of drugs, from epidural steroids to Vioxx, but was not satisfied.  He tried marijuana and was stunned by how well it worked for his pain.

Older marijuana users say they smoke in less social settings than when they were younger, and they prefer to use the drug privately.  They claim the price and quality of marijuana has increased since their younger years and they are not as paranoid about using it. 

Marijuana is a big help to our elderly community and their health issues. 






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