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Tuesday, 06 May 2014

Elders and Marijuana

As you undoubtedly know, last year the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

In 14 other states, it has been decriminalized to varying degrees and 20 states plus the District of Columbia allow marijuana, also to varying degrees, for medical purposes.

The use, sale and/or possession of cannabis is outlawed by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 although last August, it the feds announced they would no longer pursue prosecution of such offenses that take place in states that have legalized cannabis.

As to the general public's view of pot, a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that

”For the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. A national survey finds that 52% say that the use of marijuana should be made legal while 45% say it should not.”

PewPotSurvey2013

Even as the United States moves toward acceptance and legalization, there remains a large amount of ignorance about cannabis that impedes progress. For the record,

Its success in relieving such symptoms as inflammation, nausea, insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and much, more are well known in the modern medical community
It has been a legitimate remedy for many conditions for thousands of years
No one has ever died from using marijuana

For many elders, cannabis works better for many conditions than prescription drugs and in 2013, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who had publicly opposed legalization of marijuana since 2009, reversed his position and then produced an hour-long documentary on the beneficial uses of marijuana.

This is a short interview about his change of mind just prior to the documenatary broadcast on CNN last year:

As to recreational use of marijuana, as Gupta notes in that clip, dependency is about 9 percent compared to 15 percent for alcohol and it's difficult to find any serious harm to adults who use pot.

I'll testify to that. I've been smoking weed for nearly 60 years with no ill effects. None.

Oh wait. There is a downside but only if you choose to categorize it that way. Many years ago, a friend expressed this issue when he told me why he'd stopped smoking pot:

He described sitting around one evening with half a dozen friends as they listened to a new, highly anticipated album from a well-known rock group (this was the sixties) while passing around a few joints.

One of the guys pointed to another sitting across from him and said, “Wow.”

Some time went by as the music continued until the second guy pointed back at the first and said, “You're right.”

My friend realized that is what had been passing for communication among his group for a good while and he wanted more than that.

So, yes, anyone who has ever been stoned knows about distraction, forgetfulness and the tendency to mistake a splendid high for profundity.

But those are certainly not reasons to have incarcerated millions of (mostly) young people over the years particularly compared to alcohol that actually causes thousands of deaths a year.

Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is difficult to qualify for a prescription and/or expensive. But it actually works. Weed helps alleviate symptoms that plague elders without subjecting them to the terrible side effects of harsh and, often, addictive prescription drugs. Millions more could benefit with legalization.

As I have mentioned here in the past, I live with a disorder that deprives me of sleep and for which there is no treatment. When I get too far behind, I smoke a joint which allows me to stay asleep for a more normal period of time and feel better rested.

Although my affliction is far less serious than that of most elders who could benefit from a little THC, all of us should be able to use this proven substance to help alleviate what ails us.

Personally, I don't like making the distinction, in the question of legalization, between medical and recreational marijuana. If it relieves pain and other debilitating symptoms, it should be available. Period.

But pot is also a load of fun - at least as much fun a having a few drinks with friends - and my occasional indulgence is not confined to a need for sleep.

Then there is the public benefit to legalization. Nationwide, it would bring in billions of dollars in taxes that states need, reduce the prison population, free up law enforcement officers to chase real criminals and create new jobs.

Not to mention that it would make an effective treatment for many conditions more easily available to elders. What could possibly be wrong with all that?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone: Little Billy Weatherstone's Tonsillitis, Age Five


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Never used it or was around it. Don't think inhaling smoke from tobacco or marijuana is good for health. I am OK with legalization though because if smoking cigarettes is legal then why should smoking marijuana be illegal? IMHO.

I've been around younger people who've smoked pot but I never tried it, never had a desire to do it after watching them. I agree that we shouldn't be incarcerating people over pot but I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept that it should be decriminalized and available to one and all. I just went too many years thinking it ruins minds and making people unproductive. But, Ronni, you are a good example of that not happening!

The downside for me was going to be the weight gain from "munchies." I decided after my first session that it wasn't that much fun, except for the delicious Chinese food we all agreed we needed. I could have finished the whole table's order, but no one had any leftovers.

If I get any of the symptoms you mention, Ronni, I'll probably revisit pot as a remedy.

Law enforcement has made an industry out of the War On Drugs. Unfortunately, a significant part of this war has been waged on marijuana.

After many years, and a lot of collateral damage, maybe America is ready to acknowledge the difference between marijuana and drugs like heroin or meth.

I gave up smoking pot when I gave up smoking cigarettes many years ago and I miss it sometimes. Now, the meds I take won't allow me to drink alcohol either. Therefore I have turned to blogging as my only opiate. However, if they could come up with a marijuana cocktail, preferably in the form of a Margarita, I'll be the first on line. Peace out.

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Ronni! I've smoked since I was 20 or so - I'm 62 now - though much, much less frequently now (mostly because I don't where to get it). The only downside I can see is that it's just as dangerous to drive stoned as it is to drive drunk; therefore, it should be illegal to do so, just as it is with alcohol.

I understand from comments I read in another forum that instead of smoking it, you can buy edible marijauna. That might be preferable for medicinal purposes, I suppose. I've never smoked anything, and I can't imagine doing that now. But if I could get relief for a pain condition, I might eat marijuana, if I could do so legally.

Here's what could possibly be wrong with that: smoking marijuana is smoking. If it's legalized, decades of fighting to keep other people's smoke out of our lungs will be erased. The marijuana young people smoke is called "skunkweed" for a reason. Do we really want that smell filling our apartments and condos through the shared ventilation? Do we want people with asthma and children forced to inhale it in buildings and public places?

Yes...I agree with Mary! Auto
accidents that kill and/or injure others would be a BIG
reason NOT to legalize marijuana!

Only once did I try it, with my daughter. All that smelly smoke and lack of control were the total turn-off for me.

Gave up smoking cigs many years ago. I have no intention to begin again with another smelly product!

@Shelley My college aged next door neighbors smoke skunkweed. The smell enters our apartment under the wall. I wouldn't mind as much if it didn't smell exactly like a skunk. Fotunately, they don't seem to be home that often.

I don't understand why smoking marijuana would affect the public more than smoking cigarettes. If smoking is banned, it's banned for all kinds of smoke. Also, I've never known any marijuana smokers who smoke one after another, all day long, like many smokers I've known over the years.

Read this article and discover how a state legalizing marijuana means nothing to the feds: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/02/family-of-medical-marijua_n_5228182.html

I have never smoked pot, but I did smoke cigarettes. I think it's a generational thing. I didn't even know there was such a thing as marijuana when I was the age to try new exciting things that adults disapproved of, so I can't speak to the effects.

That said, I have advocated for the legal use of marijuana for 30 years and even wrote a blog about that. I am for legalization because it is only sensible. Think of the money the government wastes criminalizing it and the money it could reap with taxing it like alcohol. Putting smokers and dealers in prison and turning some of them into hardened criminals to come back into society is just plain nuts. I can think of no earthly reason that pot needs to be criminalized and I question whether it impairs driving ability. A pot smoker might have slower reflexes so it should have the same restrictions as alcohol. Driving impaired should, of course, be subject to being arrested, but doesn't that also apply to elders who are no longer competent behind the wheel and refuse to give up their car keys?

My only objection to pot is the smell, but I don't like the smell of cigars or cigarettes either and both are legal.

I forgot to mention a major reason for legalization; it would stop the killing between gangs and the drug lords would see their obscene profits shrink when they had to rely on harder drugs.

Interesting this has now become an economic issue rather the old moral issue . .

In Junior HS (early 50s) I wrote an essay about marijuana. The paper was a shocker to my Teacher and the class. I had to stand up and read it!!

The Teacher redirected the class from my position that this an evil, gateway drug to no return. Confusing all of us young teenagers.

I agree today, it is not nearly as bad as I thought then. It is more of an economic issue. Just think of the jobs that have built around the production, distribution, sales, and law enforcement, judicial systems, prison and probation.

Legalize MJ and you are going to put out a lot folks with expendable cash . . Realtors, land developers, Ponzi schemers, perhaps Wall Street and that 'happy neighbor' next door.

I'm going to stick my neck out here and and say I believe all recreational drugs should be legalised. Billions and billions of dollars and pounds have been spent on law enforcement to no avail. Just think of how alcohol availability and use went during Prohibition – organised crime had a field day.

And how short-sighted and inhuman it is to imprison people for possession, not to mention the cost to the State when it could be better spent by offering treatment facilities to those who want them.

If heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis, etc. were made available through licenced outlets, you'd eliminate the need for dealers, organised gangs and serious street crime. We live in such a hypocritical society where alcohol, which is responsible for so many traffic accidents, domestic violence, is so freely available – indeed thrust at us in advertisements, social gatherings.

I don't drink (it doesn't agree with me) and I don't take drugs (used cannabis occasionally while at Uni. 45 years ago) and I feel strongly that people should be allowed to make their own choices – positive or negative – as long as they are prepared to take the consequences. And that extends to making marijuana available to people who find it relieves troublesome symptoms connected to illness or disease.

Great topic, Ronni, and very interesting responses.

I am squarely on the fence with the issue. I certainly believe it should be decriminalized; it is ridiculous to spend law enforcement time and money on ruining folks' lives for indulging in pot. And we need to get the criminal element out of the growing and distribution.

But, I also believe there are some people who are biologically and/or mentally more susceptible to addictions. And pot, if not chemically addictive, is likely to become a problem for many people.

Tried it in college and didn't like it. Now at 64 I am a medical marijuana user. Being able to sleep at night allows me to suffer less pain in my waking hours. There are many ways to use it such as smoking, using bubblers, vaporizing, and cooking into food products. I understand there are also some medical drugs, but am not sure whether any have been approved for use in the states. Smoking a joint would be such a waste to me as it doesn't take a joint to benefit from what I need.

I don't tolerate alcohol well, but it is so much more offensive in it's abuse in general. We have laws to regulate its use, and the same can be done for marijuana. No one I've heard is arguing when we legalize it, it will automatically be legal for all ages in all places. Having it as illegal does not conversely mean we are so very successful keeping it away from minors.

I have addressed this issue too on my blog but living in Texas makes it difficult to persuade people about the medicinal value of weed deep in the Bible belt.

I have tried to persuade the conservative mentality here that touts "market principles" how valuable a commodity this would be for raising badly needed revenue and shine a light on how we can reduce spending that legalization will create as we reduce the prison population.

But this argument runs up against the prison industry here who gets a lot a dough from the state for keeping the jails full, which are mainly drug users.

"But it actually works. Weed helps alleviate symptoms that plague elders without subjecting them to the terrible side effects of harsh and, often, addictive prescription drugs. Millions more could benefit with legalization."

I think the Gubmint should dispense free, high-proof THC as First Aid to Elders.

I've been for legalization for a long time. One fear now is that greedy governments will jack up taxes so high that the criminal element will continue to flourish by merely selling below the legal market rates.

I'm with you, Ronni

Like you, Ronni I've enjoyed pot since the 60s. I had a long period when I was working 10-12 hours a day and parenting 4 children that pot wasn't part of my lifestyle. I not only couldn't afford it, I couldn't afford being stoned-That was about 3 decades of my life that I only toked up occasionally, usually at a party or gathering of old friends.
At 55 I had a serious injury, on the job-no I hadn't smoked pot for years..my company did spot urine tests and I needed my job more than I needed to get high. After surgery, still affected by chronic pain, my doctor suggested I try marijuana for relaxation of the back muscles so I could sleep. I could have taken prescribed medication, at 3 times the price with side effects that were dangerous-or try pot.
I'm fortunate enough to live in a state where marijuana is legal and I became a state authorized dope smoker..I had to laugh.
Smoking pot since 1960 never had a negative impact on my life. I was a good parent, I have 4 fully functioning adult children of which 2 smoke recreationally. In my 50s i married a great guy who was a musician and the music culture hasn't changed since the 60s-many if not all of the band members, singers and sound guys I've met also smoke.
The US "War on Drugs" has cost us, as taxpayers, millions of dollars dumped down the drain. It's been like probation was-useless.
BTW- I now bake brownies or titrate my good marijuana in oil and decant that mixture into gel caps for ingestion. No smoke to my lungs-though I've never smoked cigarettes and have no lung issues. I find the caps, which are stronger, relax the spasms in my back at night and help me sleep. And no munchies attack!
Do I favor legalization? Why the heck not.

After carefully reading the comments, I wanted to address a concern voiced by Mary and Elizabeth-that of stoned drivers causing accidents.
In my state, it's handled the same way as drunk driving. There have been very few incidents of medically stoned adults driving-far more people drink and drive.
Alcohol and pot work on the body in different ways. Alcohol often gets people excited, energized and angry-even belligerent. Pot smokers get mellow. Sit quietly, listen to music and go to sleep to dream nice dreams.
I once dated a concert director who said he'd rather have a crowd of Deadheads than of country music fans. the Deads, get stoned and take the bus home.
The country music fans get drunk, tear the venue up and go out and drive looking for another bar to yell YA-Hoo at...a generalization of course.
Theres just not the impulse, for the pot smokers I've known for 70 years, to go race around. Nothing like getting drunk does to people. This fear is one of the common ones played by the anti-drug people but it's never proven to be correct.

As a resident of Washington State and a person who smoked marijuana back in the day, I've been following this issue intently.

First of all, kudos to Dr. Sanjay Gupta whose thorough and thoughtful research on medical marijuana makes such a strong case for its use. He stresses that there are conditions--such as extreme epilepsy--for which there is no other effective treatment.

Passage of the marijuana law has created all sorts of complications in WA. One relates to the use and regulation of medical marijuana vs. that of recreational marijuana.

Another relates to regulation of driving while under the influence of marijuana. The state to its credit has determined that impaired driving is impaired driving--same tests, same punishment.

Marijuana is not a panacea, people seem to say this all the time gee that's all you need is dope. I have migraines and tried it out, it doesn't do a thing for pain and for me it works the opposite way, it does not mellow me out, it acted like a super stimulant like I just drank 5 espresso coffees in a row.

I had to ask my doper brother-in-law is that what it's supposed to do, he told me no it's supposed to do the opposite.

I'm glad it works for you but for me it's worse than useless.

"Don't bogart that joint."

My generation learned in the 60s that marijuana is innocuous, no worse than booze with the added bonus of not throwing up on your shoes.

The government that lies to us all about so much also lied to us about drugs. And movies like "Killer Weed" perpetuated the myths.

We lost the "War against Drugs" when the first cop planted the first doobie in somebody's car so they could impound the car and take the money. That and Watergate taught my generation that politicians and cops are a bunch of liars and will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. We've never trusted y'all...

Excellent piece, Ronni. It should go viral. I was in my 30s before I tried to smoke it. (I had never smoked cigarettes, so I had to learn from scratch. I had asthma as a kid; smoking anything is not good for my lungs.) So I learned to bake brownies. I don't have access to the stuff any more and certainly hope that it's legalized. I can't drink alcohol because I have GERD, so I have no access to any harmless substance for relaxation purposes. And, like you, I have sleep issues that keep getting worse. (Pills don't help.) I'm a perfect candidate for the edible stuff. Massachusetts is still working out its system for dispensing the medical version. Who knows when they'll get to the rest. Meanwhile, I'm not sleeping and not laughing enough. :)

And I'd love to find out from Elle how she "titrates" it in oil. (Just in case I get my hands on some.)

Legalize it - and get those prisons closed down!
The lobby most opposed and very powerful to legalization is the liquor industry. And perhaps the pharmaceuticals also, til they figure out how they will benefit from the demand.

There are more uses for it, when it comes to one's state of mind and heart, as well. Except for the smell, I always have felt it does no harm. And the good it does outweighs the unpleasant odor (to some) - by far.

Thanks for bringing this up, Ronni.

Legalize it, for heaven's sake. Weed is lovely, I've used it for years, no longer smoke it but bake some killer brownies. Legalize it and get our jails cleared out. Of course it is not good to drive stoned, but pot users are mellow and do not get into bar fights, way more gentle substance than alcohol. Thanks for writing this, Ronnie, high time (no pun intended) we get this talked about and voted on and legalized.

How comforting it is to know you're in the right company. I'm truly impressed with the enlightened views expressed by most commenters. The elders at this site, at least, seem to agree that the greatest problem with pot is the laws against it. Although I can't smoke anything, I would definitely try marijuana in another form for my very painful fibromyalgia, except that I know my (younger) uptight primary care physician would never approve it. He would rather see me suffer from the really awful side effects of conventional medications.

@elaine of kalilly
all you have to do is Google it
http://boards.cannabis.com/concentrates/140616-cannabis-capsules-step-step-guide.html
is a great site..the capsules and wooden block to set them in are available at your local head shop or on Amazon.
You can also do a tincture in alcohol to take it sublingually but I don't care for the taste.
Good luck, sleep well and have fun

Living in Colorado, I guess I'll see it all before everything shakes out. I suppose I'm not opposed to legal pot as long as it doesn't affect or endanger me ( staggering or smoking in public places. driving, etc.) I've already considered how I might need it for my glaucoma if it gets any worse. Thankfully, they sell edibles now. Hope the edibles would work because for the smoking to work, it has to be almost constant.

It's not without problems, though. We have kids getting into their parents' edibles or taking them to school to sell. We've had sick kids and sick pets who've gotten into it. And in the last three weeks or so we've had 10 hash oil explosions just in greater Denver. Nobody killed but a lot of damage. Apparently it's not illegal to make it, and everyone is trying to.

Oh, and no, I've never tried it. My parents were much too familiar with "Reefer Madness." for me to even look at the stuff.

Love you all for these attitudes!

One side note to driving while stoned -- you tend to slow down and be a little paranoid when you drive that way. And that may not be a bad way to drive any time!!

Many of these responses show evidence of how effective governmental brainwashing has been. To those who worry about the gateway effect, oh, come on! You're no one's nanny. As for the effect of skunk smell on children in apartments, this morning my back stairwell reeks of the poopy diapers my upstairs neighbors hauled to the trash bin hours ago. I'd rather smell pot any day.

No one is going to force you to smoke pot. Laws against intoxicated or impaired driving are broad and accommodate all manner of legal-substance abuse. Pot is a vegetable that requires no lab intervention; growing one's own completely cuts out the criminal cartels.

I don't smoke much at all these days, but when I was still under tremendous work stress, one hit at bedtime meant I could get through the next day without going mad.

I guess I'm feeling a little crabby today -- some of the comments here really pushed my buttons -- but I wish those who would control others' behavior regarding a weed that's provided all manner of people solace, pain relief, laughter and relaxation for millennia would just get a life.

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