Elders and Cannabis – Part 1
ELDER MUSIC: Rod Stewart

Elders and Cannabis – Part 2

EDITORIAL NOTE: Although today's is a lengthy post, I hope at least some of the information will be useful to you. If it isn't, you could scroll to the bottom for the latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show. In fact, you could watch it even if you do read the entire post.

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Elders and Cannabis – Part 1 can be found here.)

To pick up from where we left off on Monday discussing legal issues of cannabis, here is a map from Governing showing which states permit medical and/or recreational marijuana – or not. Visit governing.com for other variations from state to state.


Cannabis has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years. Nowadays we know that the two main chemicals in marijuana used for medical purposes are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC gets you high, CBD does not, no matter how much you imbibe, and both are useful in treating medical conditions. At legal dispensaries, in addition to buds of marijuana themselves, you can buy edibles that contain entirely CBD, entirely THC or a combination of both in various proportions.

For my sleep problem, my first try was an edible containing CBD. For me, I might as well have had a glass a water – it did nothing for my sleep. I switched to a THC tincture and it puts me to sleep within about 45 minutes – not enough time to get high or, more likely, to notice that I'm high.

The number of conditions that cannabis helps is long and includes cancer. There are two U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved pills containing cannabis, Marisol and Cesamet, that are often prescribed to help control nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.

I don't know if it is still so, but back in the 1990s, my step brother was prescribed Marinol to control some of the effects of AIDS.

The top two reasons elders use cannabis is for arthritis pain and difficulty sleeping. Dr. Igor Grant is a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and the recipient of one of the rare federal grants allowing him to research the potential benefits of pot. From CBS News:

"'First of all, there is increasing evidence that cannabis is helpful in the management of certain kinds of pain,' Grant said. And it's the kind of discomfort experienced by seniors, like sharp pains felt by nerve damage, caused by things like chemotherapy or diabetes...

“Kerry Stiles, 78, wears a pacemaker. And he discovered pot at the Rossmoor retirement community in Walnut Creek, across the bay from San Francisco. 'I drop it under my tongue, about five or six drops, and that helps me sleep,' Stiles said.”

Moving on from pain and sleep, a January 2018 study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center reported in Science News found that

”...cannabis therapy is safe and efficacious for elderly patients who are seeking to address cancer symptoms, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other medical issues.”

There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective:
For the treatment for chronic pain in adults
Antiemetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
For improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms (oral cannabinoids)

There is moderate evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for:
Improving short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep disturbance associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis

There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for:
Increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS
Improving clinician-measured multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms
Improving symptoms of Tourette syndrome (THC capsules)
Improving anxiety symptoms, as assessed by a public speaking test, in individuals with social anxiety disorders
Improving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between cannabinoids and:
Better outcomes (i.e., mortality, disability) after a traumatic brain injury or intracranial hemorrhage

There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are ineffective for:
Improving symptoms associated with dementia
Improving intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma
Reducing depressive symptoms in individuals with chronic pain or multiple sclerosis

Hardly any of this information is definitive – at least in the U.S. - because, as NORML reported in 2010:

”Lawmakers and health regulators demand clinical studies on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, but the federal agency in charge of such research bars these investigations from ever taking place...

“Under federal law, the National Institute of Drug Abuse – NIDA - (along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) must approve all clinical and preclinical research involving marijuana.

“NIDA strictly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s lone research supply of pot – which is authorized via a NIDA contract and cultivated and stored at the University of Mississippi.”

Nothing has changed with the federal government's position toward cannabis research since this report.

If you can stand one more list, here is a one about possible side effects of from the same study [pdf] done by the U.S. National Academies of Science and published in January 2017:

Substantial evidence:
Statistical association between cannabis smoking and worse respiratory symptoms in respiratory disease with long-term cannabis smoking
Increased risk of motor vehicle crashes
Development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with the highest risk among the most frequent users
Statistical association between increases in cannabis use frequency and progression to developing problem cannabis use

Moderate evidence:
No statistical association between smoking cannabis and incidence of lung cancer
Impairment in cognitive domains of learning, memory and attention (acute cannabis use)
Small increased risk for development of depressive disorders

Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide attempts with a higher incidence among heavier users
Increased incidence of social anxiety disorder with regular cannabis use
Being male and smoking cigarettes are risk factors for the progression of cannabis use to developing problem cannabis use
Major depressive disorder is a risk factor for the development of problem cannabis use

Limited or no evidence:
Increased risk of acute myocardial infarction
Statistical association between cannabis smoking and developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Statistical association between cannabis use and death due to cannabis overdose

Due to the lack of research, I don't buy a lot of this list – especially those in the moderate, limited and no evidence categories which is why, with so much anecdotal evidence of the therapeutic value of cannabis, the federal government needs to catch up with the 30 states and approve the research.

Whether the FDA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions or anyone else in the federal government likes it or not, it is only a matter of time now until cannabis is accepted as both a medical treatment and for recreational use, as alcohol is accepted.

In fact, Bloomberg News recently reported that the alcohol industry is concerned as is the soft drink industry. Here is their short video report:

It is true that as we get older, we get sicker: cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart conditions, etc. are called “diseases of age” for a reason. If cannabis can help control symptoms, it should be legally available to everyone.

Of course, it's important to consult a physician first. In my case, it was a doctor who first suggested cannabis for my sleep difficulty.

Now, whenever I see my doctors – cancer and primary care – I am handed a printout of my current drugs from their records so I can confirm them. We recently added cannabis to the list so that when prescriptions are being added, subtracted or changed, interactions can be taken into consideration.

For years of illegal marijuana, almost everyone smoked it or, occasionally, made brownies and other edibles with it. I still have a 1996 paperbook titled Brownie Mary's Marijuana Cookbook that includes recipes for pot macaroni and cheese, shrimp casserole and spagetti sauce.

These days, cannabis is much MUCH stronger than in the past. If you are smoking it, what once took a joint or two to get high, requires only a couple of tokes. These days, in addition to hand-rolled joints, there are various kinds of pipes and vaporizers.

In states where cannabis is legal, you can also buy tinctures to take by mouth, creams to rub into your skin, candies along with ingestible oils that come in capsules. Visit this page at Leafly for more information about how to use cannabis.

Most of the links through this story have additional good information about cannabis in general and as related to elders.

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Here's the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.


This information is very useful to me because I live in Canada, where recreational cannabis will be legally for sale this summer. Unlike you, Ronni, I've been a obedient little goody-two-shoes all my life and never once tried mj or any other recreational pharmaceuticals. Even though I never thought there was anything wrong with them, and I knew that family and friends discreetly experimented, I wasn't going to take even the slightest chance of acquiring a criminal record. I'm a very cautious person by nature!

With my lung problems now, I am certainly not going to be stupid enough to smoke anything! but edibles and/or oils might be helpful with the pain. I could probably qualify for a medical prescription. Before I even raise the subject with my respirologist, though, I want to find out what the experience feels like. Maybe I'll hate it! Maybe I'll like it a lot.

I just read an article on webmd,com that said that the lifespan of American's is getting longer. But, it went on to say, that although we will be living longer, we may not be living better. And, that the cost of all the medications and procedures that will aid us in a longer life will be prohibitive.
Enter cannabis.
Staring us right in the face is a cheap (and safer) alternative to opiates, surgeries and needless (and endless) consultations with doctors.
It's way past the time we legalized marijuana in all 50 states.

Just now - early morning Wednesday, former Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has announced that he supports de-listing of marijuana from the federal schedule.

Former House Speaker John Boehner has announced he's joining the board of one of the country's largest cannabis corporations. In a joint statement with former Governor of the State of Massachusetts Bill Weld, who's also joining the Acreage Holdings board, Boehner said it was time for a 'serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy' and backed the descheduling of the drug.

Boy, Alex really dropped a bomb on you with introducing the subject of the size of a penis and whether it was an inherited trait or not. You were so gracious in telling him you didn't want to go there. I am sure that all men are concerned with the size of their member just like all females are concerned with the size of their breast. American humans are obsessed with sex while we pretend to not be. Europeans are more open about the human body and think nothing of seeing a full frontal nude on TV. The Puritan strain will never leave some of us.

So I will say that one of the freedoms of growing old is that I don't give a flying fig about those kind of issues anymore. In another ten years I doubt that Alex will be bothered about that issue any more.

You are looking so good, Ronni, and no one would believe that you have just lived through the trauma that you endured.

Ronni, I love these interviews you do with your ex.

Alex throws out the occasional curve ball question.



Good discussion about cannabis, part 2, and fine discussion with Alex.
Another winner today.

And re Darlene's comments above, one virtual hug coming your way, Darlene.

Thanks, Ronni, for inserting that comment about Boehner's announcement about joining the board of Acreage Holdings. I had heard that before reading this post and my first thought on watching the video projecting marijuana revenue was that there's at least 75 billion reasons for Boehner's evolving beliefs.

I enjoyed the newest episode of the Ronni and Alex Show.

Here in Ohio, where we have a hard-right Republican governor (John Kasich, who won't be president in 2020 no matter how much he says he can bring people together--something he's shown no proof of here after two terms) and an even harder-right legislature, our medical marijuana law is falling victim to incompetent foot-dragging by state officials who show they really don't want to make this help available to all those it can actually help.

During my reporting days (now retired), I was covering one of our senators in DC at a presser here in Columbus. With him was then Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack. The question I asked the former Iowa governor was why marijuana (that doesn't kill people) wasn't replaced on the Schedule I drug list with sugar (that kills people by the millions through diabetes)? Vilsack looked like deer caught in the beam of headlines. He quickly side-stepping the question by commenting on the ag budget at the time. Republicans, as they do, had harpooned it by cutting out billions on funding for food stamps among other dents they put in it.

Ohio had a golden opportunity in 2014 to pass a medical and recreation marijuana law, but the scare-tactic commercials put out by opposition forces, that sunk it 2-1 at the ballot box, focused on all the kids who would have something terrible happen to them if they ate the news crop of marijuana-laced edibles that look fun and colorful, like the candy on store shelves that does cause trouble.

Visiting friends in British Columbia last fall, I visited Vancouver for the first time. I walked into Lotus Land, one of several dispensaries there. I asked how to purchase some, being from the states as I was. I filled out a short medical form, identifying my medical need as arthritis pain. Five minutes and $11 USD later, I walked out with two pre-rolled, filter-tipped joints of "Willy Wonka" that made that day and many after it. As Ronni correctly notes, today's MJ is light years ahead of what was grown years ago. As a friend and I concluded recently, today's quality stuff shows just how much crap we smoked that was the standard so long ago.

Glad to see all this information put together here. You’ve answered some of the questions I’ve had but never bothered to research. Never know when using this substance might become beneficial. Many people are unable to legally use cannabis and could risk losing their job if they did as has been true in my profession. Continues to seem ridiculous that more medical research is not occurring on cannabis. Vaping needs more research, too, for those using that means to take into their respiratory system. Can imagine pharma and alcoholic beverage groups might not welcome in the market place cannabis products for either medicinal or recreational use given the power of the dollar in our society.

It's been 33 years since I smoked my last number. The last few years I've had a sleep disorder that Beth enjoys even less than I do. I think it may be time for me to find a dispensary and pick up some medicinal THC. Thanks for the comprehensive story!

Aside from the legality issue (and I agree there should be much more objective, scientific study into the benefits and side-effects of cannabis), I've heard it does good things for some people. However, I remember my college days when I did some marijuana, and enjoyed it at first, but after a while it just made me paranoid and depressed, and so I swore off. I think, like many drugs, different people react differently, and even the same person could react differently at different times. So, like you said . . . more study, more info.

Does anybody out there know if Ronni is okay? I hope it's not rude to ask. I'm just concerned.

Katie, I don't think that is rude at all. We are too, from the other side of the world. It sounded like she had helpful neighbours, but they might not comment on here. So we will await news.

Are you ok?
Thinking about you.


Thanks Norma. If you and Peter don't know, then I guess none of us does.

We'll all wait together then.

Katie, Redstone Gail, Norma, and others...

I'm just home an hour ago from four days in the hospital with no internet access. It's going on 8PM here so I'm going to bed in a few minutes. Everything is fine, some medical complications that will need to be dealt with - serious but not life-threatening and not cancer.

I'll write about it for Monday. Sorry to have upset you but I couldn't get to a computer.

Oh whew, what a relief! Thanks so much for letting us know Ronni.

Sleep well!

What a relief that you are ok. Have a good rest.

Whew! Good to know everything is in order. On my side of the ocean, it looked like the site was down!
Hope you're doing well Ronni

I too, have been concerned, and just tracked back here again to see if I'd missed anything. Echoing feelings of relief that everything is basically okay. I hope you're getting some rest Ronni. Thank you for checking in and letting us know, but take good care -- we can wait for the rest of the story until you're really feeling up to it.

Thanks so much for letting us know!!!
I do enjoy your video, it’s a bit short IMHO.

It's a good thing I checked in today - Looked for your post on Friday - nothing - then nothing
on Saturday. Thought it might be a computer problem - Sorry to learn about your hospital

Hope you are feeling better now and whatever the problem was - they straighten you out!

We miss you and worry about you when you do not post.

Hugs and caring thought to you.

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