Carrying High School Prejudices into Old Age
Elders and Washington Politics (This Week)

Elder Effort for Medical Marijuana

The guy in the video looked to be near my age and he was talking to a group of other people as old or older than I am.

”We invented marijuana,” he said. “We're the Woodstock generation.”

Well, that got my attention and he's right, you know – sort of. Before us, weed - or pot, maryjane, ganga and the hundred other names for it - was mostly the province of jazz musicians – or so it was said.

The man in the video I saw is Robert Platshorn and he served more time in prison on a marijuana charge than anyone else in history - nearly 30 years. He was convicted of smuggling an extremely large quantity – half a million pounds over a six-month period - into the U.S. from Colombia. But still – 30 years?

Now that he's a free man again, Mr. Platshorn has turned cannabis activist. As the founder of The Silver Tour, he is working to enlist elders to pressure legislators to legalize marijuana or, at least, to provide safe, legal access to it for medical purposes. Take a look at this CNN story.

It is true that marijuana is well known to relieve symptoms of arthritis, glaucoma, cancer, nausea from chemotherapy and many other conditions when legal drugs do not or cannot.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims it has no medical use, and the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug up there with heroin and LSD, and claims the right to supersede state law. According to Wikipedia:

”The United States Supreme Court has ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop and Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize cannabis, even for medical purposes.

“A person can therefore be prosecuted for a cannabis-related crime even if it is medical cannabis that is legal according to the laws of this state.”

That claim causes some amount of jurisdictional difficulty when an agency in Washington decides from time to time to make a federal case of it in any of the 17 states and District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana. There's a story here of a federal raid of a legal (under state law) pot farm in Oregon last fall.

It's not funny for the people arrested and prosecuted, but all the fuss and bother and fear and misunderstanding about marijuana tend to make me laugh. I've been smoking pot off and on for 55 years – since I was introduced to it at age 15; it hasn't harmed me and it has sometimes helped me when nothing else could.

I still wonder, all these years later, if I would have healed from the breakup with my husband as well as I did without getting stoned every night after work; more evenings than not, I rolled a joint before I had my coat off.

It kept me from having to think about the mess I'd made of my life when I didn't want to, let me zone out to music or books or daydreams. I slept like a baby with no hangover in the morning which wouldn't have been the case with alcohol.

After about six months, I emerged from my cannabis cocoon ready to face the world and begin again. No harm, no foul and I returned to smoking now and then mostly with friends.

And now, we've got a president who used to smoke pot. Here's a mini-history lesson from Chris Matthews back in2006 about pot and politicians:

Yes, of course, that's the point. Getting high is fun, as the president – got that, the president - of the United States acknowledges.

Mr. Platshorn wants to see marijuana legalized for medical uses, and good on him for making the effort. God knows, not having found a way obtain pot since I moved to Oregon, I miss a night's deep sleep I can get after smoking a joint.

But it is a hypocrisy for me to say only that. I also miss getting high now and then, particularly for listening to music. Or not. Just enjoying the high, getting silly, giggling with some like-minded friends.

And it is stupid beyond all reason that alcohol is legal – you know, just for fun, for conviviality, for social occasions or even to get falling down drunk if that's your idea of fun – and marijuana is not.

The Silver Tour of Mr. Platshorn is a terrific idea - an elder crusade to legalize pot, at least medically. That would be a start. Read more about his effort here.)

I'll let Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC last November have the last word:

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Schools in China


Of course it should be legalized for medical use especially for terminally ill patients & may prove useful for calming some dementia patients. Also, it's difficult to understand why this is such a huge issue since sooooo many folks would benefit financially if medical marijuana were acceptable. Besides, I have read (somewhere?) that you don't have to necessarily smoke it for relief of symptoms because it is available in a tincture form & I believe that Oregon is one of those states. I guess I'll need to do some research:)
Incidentally, Ronni, your description of using a joint to get a good nights sleep is very appealing especially to an ole' insomniac like me. Dee

Oops. Change acceptable to legalized. Dee

Marijuana is available in pill form - one brand is called Marinol. You can also bake it into brownies and other foods.

I knew it! So what's the big deal. Yesterday a friend told me that she paid over $400 for 2 pain pills at the pharmacy & that one of the pills was morphine! That's one of the oldest medications known & it costs that much? Another screwed up mess in this country. Dee

I've never even tried marijuana, but I think it should be legal. It makes no sense that it's not as it just keeps it profitable for the dealers; and as you said, it's no different than alcohol for its pluses or minuses. For some people pot does become a dead-end street as it convinces them they are doing something when they aren't. I've known some like that; but the same is true of alcohol. I don't just think it should be available with prescriptions either.

It's funny that the party that talks so much of freedom wants to limit ours in so many ways. Of course, Democrats are afraid to legalize it also for fear they'll be called immoral etc etc. It's another of the illogical things in our country that it's not for sale openly where can be licensed and monitored to be sure it's safe. A tax on it would take care of some financial problems. People are scared though and whenever it comes up for a vote, they hear the argument slippery slope and vote it down. Now some say that the federal government can step into any state that even legalizes it for medical purposes and override the state's vote as a national issue. What national issue!

I admire you for your courage in admitting something that probably some of your older readers will disapprove of.

The stupid war on marijuana that our country has waged for so many years has wasted untold dollars and human potential. Worse than that, it has ruined lives, created crime and corruption, and for what? Pot smokers don't hurt anyone.

Does Marinol give you the benefits (sleep inducing & 'high') of smoking
minus the risk of lung inflammation?

So what is the issue of access to medical marijuana?

O...what Lawrence O'Donnell said.
Right On!

I hope I'm wrong. But, I doubt if any of us will be here if and when marijuana is finally legal and treated the same as alcohol in every state. We already see the federal road blocks that appear even when a state legalizes medical marijuana.

Unless something drastic happens, the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA will keep our government under their thumbs on this issue. Money talks!

It is truly a sad scenario when we know for a fact that marijuana can help so many people, especially seniors.

A close friend who died of complications from AIDS many years ago was prescribed Marinol to relieve some symptoms. I don't know specifically if it helps with sleep, but it relieves some symptoms and yeah, you get high.

I think Robert Platshorn is correct to limit his "crusade" to medical marijuana. But what ticks me off about this issue is that getting high is fun but we're not supposed to say that.

What's wrong with a some herbal fun in life? Drinkers make no bones about enjoying a drink; some even laugh about getting falling down drunk. And MADD notwithstanding, the culture still does often look the other way at teenage and college drinking.

Ronni: I'm kind of prejudiced against pot and pot smokers, But your personal experiences with it convince me that I am probably wrong.

I have been around and used pot since the 1950s ... and friends of mine today desperately need it for medical reasons for afflictions like fibromyalgia and stress.

It's a shame that such trash as "Reefer Madness" have tainted so many people's minds. And in my opinion, the cigarette and alcohol industries have been fighting its legalization for years -- it's way too competitive for their greed.

In the '50s there was a big rumor going around the advertising business that the major cigarette companies had already trademarked/copyrighted names for marijuana products, just in case it was legalized so they could produce it and get it to market swiftly!

My son, who knows more about marijuana than I do, says that the main difference between pot and alcohol is that pot users become mellow when under the influence while many drunks become angry and combative. Is there an equivalent to a drunken brawl for pot users?

No such thing as a "drunken pot brawl." I'm giggling - it just cannot happen.

One of the effects of pot is that one's mind gets quickly distracted so you lose your train of thought. Hard to keep up anger (if it happens at all) long enough in that frame of mind for an argument to happen, let alone a fight.

And of course this whole discussion reminds me of the Barney Miller episode with the Hash brownies. That is one of the funniest things I have ever F bombs needed. That was a priceless episode with enormous belly laughs. :):)Dee BTW I recently caught several reruns of that show on cable & they were so funny. Miss it. Dee

I have advocated legalizing marijuana for more years than I can remember. If for no other reason than it would save billions spent on the war against drugs. Not to mention the enriching of the drug lords and the murders and other crime connected with it.

It is insane that alcohol is legalized when it causes so many wasted lives and pot is illegal when it just makes people mellow.

My daughter-in-law was fine when her drug of choice was pot, but when it became vodka it destroyed her. She is an incurable drunk now and physically ill from the effects of an addiction that is legal. She is (was) a classical pianist and a brilliant woman.

I am sure those politicians who rail against marijuana can't wait to get home to their first martini.

Before the 1920s, when cannabis was outlawed in the UK, it used to form the basis of various remedies and I can remember seeing a label for it on one of those wooden apothecary drawers that they used to have in very old-fashioned pharmacies when I was a child.

I've never tried marijuana, but, like those here, think it should be legal.

I’ll turn seventy next month and a friend asked what I might like to do/try that I haven’t done/tried before.

Were this legal, maybe marijuana would be one thing. I would love to feel stress free and giggle. But, for now, a glass of wine will have to suffice.

Just ask NABCA (National Alcoholic Beverage Association) about legalization of marijuana.. They're pouring millions into congress every year to make sure it never happens. Along with the pharmaceutical gangsters they have maintained a constant effort to keep marijuana on the list of " controlled substances" for a long, long time. You know, you can't fight City Hall, or in this case Congress, there's just too much money in the pot (pun intended) and at a time when the unemployment situation is critical. We can't really put all those guys in the DEA, BAT, and local law enforcement out of a job or empty the prisons either.

I tried marijuana when I was 40, in honor of leaving my 30s more or less. I didn't like it at all and have mixed feelings about making it legal. But I do believe that possession for personal use by an adult should be nothing more than a misdemeanor, if that.

Tried pot years ago, didn't like it much.

My brother smoked pot a LOT for about 10 years after he returned from Vietnam, and during those years he didn't communicate much with our family.

I'd rather be around people when they're not stoned or drinking.

Not sure if pot should be legalized, Willie Nelson's thoughts about it aside.

My mental image of a pot brawl is a bunch of happy people eating warm brownies and cold vanilla ice cream together, chuckling.

Interesting discussion. I have such mixed feelings on this.Coming of age in the late 60's, I also tried marijuana, but could never get beyond the burning eyes and throat. I never was a smoker, and I just couldn;t get past the pain to reach the bliss. I am in favor of at least decriminalizing it, if not legalizing it, but at the same time,I have seen many fine young minds become consumed with it and have concerns about what this might lead to.

We always joked that pot was better than alcohol because you wouldn't throw up on your shoes.

When legalization of pot was on the ballot in California, all us girls voted for it, while all the guys were at home getting stoned.

Marijuana should be legal for everyone without prescription. It should be illegal to drive under the influence, just like alcohol.

I spent time on the front lines of the "war on drugs" as a chemical dependency counselor back in the day, so my views on MJ are mixed. I agree with valid medical usage, and I think that decriminalizing possession is way overdue. People (primarily low-income minorities) were sentenced to more prison time for MJ offenses in the 80's and '90s than some rapists and murderers are getting today. Eliminating the profit motive would help to reduce the violent crime associated with dealing an illicit substance.

Historically, young people have started their drug use with alcohol and MJ. Of the two, alcohol is far more damaging even though today's pot is much more potent than what was around in the '60s-'70s. Misuse of prescription drugs is now a serious threat to kids, as well. I'm not sure that making "recreational" MJ more readily available will be useful; if it's more readily available, kids will find it. That said, our current drug policies are nuts and, even more important, they don't work! The "war on drugs" was lost a long time ago, and it's time to do something different.

Some years ago I baked my mother (now 91) some brownies laced with marijuana. She still remembers her disappointment that she didn't feel anything and she still would like to try it!

Hooray for stepping up in public to voice what so many of us have believed for years. That said, I used to believe that marijuana would never be legalized until the economy got so bad that the powers that be would finally realize that legalizing and taxing it could significantly CONTRIBUTE money to schools, public health efforts and other public endeavors, rather than WASTE money by pouring it down the rat-hole of the "war on drugs." Unfortunately, apparently I was wrong.

The drug enforcement authorities, police and prison systems have come to delight in bathing in the money and jobs created especially for them by this boondoggle.

I for one would rather live in a society where people did not dislike or distrust the police for fear of them misusing their power to put people behind bars and to ruin their lives for such trivial actions.

I figured if I lived long enough, legalization might come to pass -- but that was FORTY years ago, and now I am guessing I will never see such a SANE policy in my lifetime.

Will this country ever start facing the truths staring them in the face, instead of glorying in their myths of self-righteousness and the pride of being proud?

Bravo Ronni! I smoked a lot of pot in my 20s, then tapered off and quit in my 30s when I had my son. I'd love to smoke a joint every now and again. My son, who is a cop, thinks it should be legalized and regulated as alcohol is.

I'd love to be able to have another toke and zone out to some music or look at art in a different way or get silly. Or take a safe med for sleep instead of OTC that harms liver. Have not had access for decades. Making pot illegal means I would have to deal with dangerous criminals to get some -- and that's not safe for an old woman like I am now.

I think it needs to be legal, not just decriminalized. For one thing when people buy from a dealer, he has other drugs for sale. More temptation to try something else. If these were all in the equivalent of a liquor store, licensed and taxed, it would be far better.

You know most of the celebrities who died of drug overdoses did it on legal prescription drugs where they misjudged and maybe doctor shopped. If pot was as available as whiskey maybe there'd be less of that kind of death where someone just wants to relax and they use a deadly combination-- all legal.

This is a delayed response after thinking about this issue. It was responsible of you to get stoned after you returned home. What bothers me is adding another mind-altering substance to alcohol and heroin that is available to people who drive after indulging. In my own home town several people have been killed as a result of such abuse. You cannot insure responsible use of any substance, so why add another? I don't get it.

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