The Mystery of How Time Slips Away
INTERESTING STUFF – 1 February 2020

Marijuana and Old Folks

We've discussed this several times before but I think it is worth coming back to because use of cannabis among elders continues to increase but I keep meeting people (in a state where it is legal) who are interested but hesitant to try it.

The little wicker basket next to my bed holds several brands and types of edible cannabis I use for sleep. It's quite a collection now. Currently, there are two kinds of chocolate, four of fruit-flavored gummies, one of lemon hard candies and a bottle of tincture.

Even when they contain the same dosage of THC, the effectiveness of each differs with me depending on how frequently I use it. One of my physicians and several marijuana dispensary employees have confirmed my experience, that the same product used every night will eventually stop working – which happened to me.

So now I keep that nice little variety around to mix it up from night to night.

Currently, 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis to a greater or lesser degree. Some restrict usage to what is called “medical marijuana” that for purchase usually requires a card from a physician. Many other states now allow recreational marijuana.

Here is a map of current legal availability as of 25 June 2019. Follow this link for more information by individual state.

LegalCannabisMap

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana use and later legalized it for people 21 and older – first for medical use and then expanded to recreational use.

In the past month or two, I've noticed that my local Safeway supermarket is now selling CBD products. CBD is the non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis. It's counterpart, THC, gets you high.

When I first started experimenting with cannabis for sleep, I tried CBD. It worked about as well as a glass of water so I switched to THC which not only puts me to sleep, it keeps me there for seven to eight hours which I hadn't slept in a decade or more.

Other people say CBD works well for them.

When the subject of marijuana use comes up in conversation, it is predicable that someone will say, “Oh, but I wouldn't want to get high.” To which I can only say, “Why not?”

Mostly I'm asleep before the high kicks in because that takes about two hours with edibles as opposed to smoking pot which is almost immediate. (No smoking for me with COPD.)

I patronize several cannabis dispensaries in Oregon all of whom have told me that the majority of their customers are old people. WebMD reported on a 2018 survey of elders who use marijuana for chronic pain.

”...it reduced pain and decreased the need for opioid painkillers.

“Nine out of 10 liked it so much they said they'd recommend medical pot to others.

"'I was on Percocet and replaced it with medical marijuana. Thank you, thank you, thank you,' said one senior.”

Many say that marijuana doesn't eliminate pain but it does make it manageable.

Dr. Mark Wallace, a board member of the American Pain Society, told WebMD,

"'The geriatric population is my fastest-growing patient population. With medical marijuana, I'm taking more patients off opioids,' he said.

"'There's never been a reported death from medical marijuana, yet there are 19,000 deaths a year from prescription opioids. Medical cannabis is probably safer than a lot of drugs we give,' Wallace said.”

I've made sure my cannabis use is included on my list of medications so that doctors can consider drug interactions when/if they prescribe something new.

The body of scientific research suggests that cannabis is useful in treating a variety of conditions and diseases such as

• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
• Anorexia due to HIV/AIDS
• Chronic pain
• Crohn's disease
• Epilepsy or seizures
• Glaucoma
• Multiple sclerosis or severe muscle spasms
• Nausea, vomiting or severe wasting associated with cancer treatment
• Terminal illness
• Tourette syndrome

Note that they don't list sleep but I can't be the only old person who has discovered that use.

The National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) which has been lobbying for legalization since 1970 reports that

”According to national polling data compiled by Gallup in October 2019, 66 percent of the public - including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents - favor adult-use legalization.

"Bipartisan support among the public for medical marijuana legalization is even stronger.”

MarijuanaLegalization

I was in high school when I smoked my first joint. I enjoyed it then and, presumably, I still would if I could stay awake long enough to feel the high.

But what I can't figure out is how, through the decades, I had so much time to fool around - it's not like you get much done when you're stoned. Who knew, back then, that weed would be my key to getting a good night's sleep.

Certainly some TGB readers use cannabis. Let's hear from you, and if you want, feel free to use an alias in place of your name.

Comments

My hope is, if/when weed is legal everywhere, science can really get into investigating where it can be used most effectively. I recently heard of a husband, whose wife has dementia and she was showing signs of great agitation, pacing...unable to be still. He gave her some CBD in the morning and at night. Her agitation stopped. It seemed to take her edge off. I'd love to see more study into whether this can be applied to others to help gently calm them as well.

I say, if it helps, then do it. I use a CBD cream on my bad knee. Seems to relieve pain a little, altho it may just be the placebo effect. I don't want to ingest THC though, b/c the last few times I took it -- some 40 years ago -- it made me feel very negative and paranoiac.

As we can see from the map, recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Illinois, where I live. That went into effect on January 1 and I had been following discussions of marijuana on this blog each time it's come up and looked forward to trying some gummies or a tincture as sleep aids. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet and it may never.

The tax on the products here makes them significantly more expensive than most places, including Oregon, and it's hard to justify spending money on them when my husband and I are on such a tight budget as it is, and his life-sustaining medication (insulin and other diabetes related meds) take precedence.

In addition, there is a shortage of product here, resulting in long lines and waits (outdoors in January Illinois temps -- no thank you!). There is only one dispensary in the city in which I live and I expected to see lines and waits initially, but the first week people were waiting outdoors for 6-10 hours at a time. It isn't quite that bad now, but when ever I drive to the other side of town and pass the place, there are always people waiting in line outside. I guess I'll stick with the herbal tea that works reasonably well every now and then. Otherwise, I've lived with compromised sleep for a couple of decades, I suppose I can live out the rest of my days this way.

I live in Georgia where you can buy CBD, but like you, I didn’t find it beneficial for my arthritis. It’s also expensive. Never smoked, but I would be up for trying edibles if it becomes legal here.

I'm not even sure of the exact legality here in New York, but am happy if it works for people. I haven't needed to use it but am not opposed. I just wish people wouldn't smoke it on the street, which I notice more and more. It has - to me -a very nauseating, almost putrid, smell, something I don't remember from days gone by. I swear, it smells different than it did in my youth! Meanwhile, my vet has prescribed CBD oil for my cat because of arthritis in her wonky knee. Shockingly expensive!!

Being from Washington, yes, I indulge. The high from vaping was a novelty the first couple of times but that wasn’t the intent. My partner has a decade of joint and back pain from a poorly done hip replacement. I convinced her to let go of her conservative upbringing and try. It is now part of her/our arsenal. Like the story says, I am often the youngest person in the store and I am 73. I often greet neighbors that I had no idea used it.

Smoking is a quick hit but it’s a health risk. A more interesting facet that I am exploring is edibles beyond the traditional brownie. There are a couple of good cook books out. It’s a learning experience but provides a more enjoyable way to ingest.

I don't know if I'd ever try it---I'm allergic to too many things to experiment---but so many people report good results from using marijuana that it can't be discounted. I actually know someone who recently got a job at a recreational marijuana store so I've been asking a lot of questions. I don't sleep well so if I was going to try it, that would be why I'd do it.

But I'm just a little worried about your cat, Ronni, with a basket of edible next to your bed. Or don't you have a cat anymore?

Thanks for the very interesting information. I used marijuana in college, sometimes recreationally, sometimes for anxiety. (I found i couldn't worry about something without holding a train of thought about it. And i couldn't hold a train of thought when i was high.)

Not that I'm the age i am, my train of thought is easily derailed without any chemical assistance. So i haven't had a personal interest in using marijuana again.

But I'm a lifelong insomniac. Your experience gives me hope that maybe this will work for me.

P.s., typing from my phone, please excuse the inevitable typos.

I live in California and use cannabis frequently but in moderation. I'm never wasted. I usually add a little homemade tincture to my juice in the morning. Relieves some of the anxiety associated with everyday life. I also sometimes do edibles to help with sleep and make cannabis balm at home to use on creaky body parts. Finally, I vape flower (not concentrates). Right now I'm 90 days into growing my first plant and sharing progress reports on my blog.

I use it for sleep, too... Indica tincture in a few oz. of OJ. Takes 40 min or so to kick in. Gentle, no "hangover" effects in morning. Hi from Canada, a legal pot country. Plenty of old folks here buying, either for the sheer thrill of walking into a store and buying, or to deal with the ailments that pile up. (I am 71, smoked pot lightly in college but not since then, until my son suggested I try it as a sleep aid.)

On 12/2/19, John Sinclair, who served 3 yrs of a 10 yr sentence for offering to sell an undercover agent 2 joints, is thought to be the first person to buy legal marijuana in his home state, Michigan.

During the "Summer of Love" in 1967 we felt grass would be legal within a decade. Oh well.
We went through a lot of training before a "dealer" would even sell us a lid. LSD experiments were still rampant. Grass became a somewhat mystical experience. In Denver, I used grass a lot, as did many returning Viet Nam vets. I would not smoke it now because of my lungs, but edibles are great. My wife is younger, and her Dad is a retired Or. state patrol officer. She is deeply trained against any drugs that were once illegal. When she is gone, I partake. I wish I could enjoy the new freedom more, but family peace dictates otherwise. Enjoy!!!!

Beware of what you wish for. National legalization in Canada has resulted in all of the little shops who gave excellent advice on what strain to use for what ailment, to disappear! Also, fears of children eating edibles resulted in each packet of edibles having a TOTAL of 10 mg of THC. This means for me to get the dose (5 mg) I used to take for sleep, I would have to eat 1/2 of a candy bar or half a package of Gummies! This makes it much more expensive and impractical, as I would soon resemble the Goodyear blimp if I ate that much before bed.
Sigh. It was heavenly to be able to get just what I needed for blessed sleep, but it only lasted until the Feds decided to get involved.

Legal here in Washington. I use a CBD tincture for periodic spells of muscle spasms and arthritic pain. I don't use the THC as I also get paranoid and moody from the whole product. I haven't tried the edibles yet.

Just a caveat from an old nurse that has not tried cannabis for a variety of reasons not relevant to this discussion. What I hope anyone will do when needing any pain relief will be aware and do their own research.

All plants or derivative extractions in any study or survey have no standardization of the cannabinoids. Even in different parts of the same plant has different concentration of cannabinoids. There are thousands of mixed strains with different concentrations of CBD/THC that make it impossible to replicate any study without standardization.   Will the FDA make that a priority? Who knows !

“Medical cannabis” is not a scientific term but an industrial term that is introduced to the laws by cannabis industry. In science, cannabis (Sativa or Indica or Rudelaris or mixed strains) is the green plant that has about 500 components and about 110 inactive phito-cannabinoids. They have to be decarboxilated with heat in order to activate and have biological psychoactive effects changing their chemical structure. 

Just to restate the opening...."LET THE BUYER BEWARE" of any source you use. Cost and availability will make it a jungle out there !!
It may be worse than those 'gawd-awful' Black Friday shopping frenzies I have read about.

Anyone interested can 'google' this for a more in depth viewpoint from OHSU.
Special Report | February 2018. Contemporary Routes of Cannabis Consumption: A Primer for Clinicians. Jeramy Peters, DO; Joseph Chien, DO.    

Not legal here in NY yet, but I use CBD oil nightly to help with sleep and arthritic pain.

I also smoked lots of pot in my younger days and am looking forward to it becoming available in NY.

Can someone tell me the cost of taking it nightly for sleep.

Oregon person here. I've been experimenting with edibles after lingering side effects from cancer treatment. (I don't want to smoke). The dispensary budtender was super helpful with recommendations and a chart including how to counteract too much of a high (if you don't want one) and admonishments to call Poison Control if any worries. I've been keeping a journal as she recommended. Another friend warned me about getting thirsty and she was right! I keep a water bottle close at hand when imbibing. Thus far a combo of 10mg thc and then 25mg cbd an hour later helps with sleep and pain. I don't enjoy the feeling of being high, I guess I'm weird like that. I haven't noticed any help with nausea, in fact being high makes that worse. I too hope that mire research will be funded for cannabis.

@ MaryJane: Another Canadian here. I get mine from a medical marijuana dispensary, not the govt outlet, my city. Never a line up, very knowledgeable staff.

To access such places , which often call themselves "clubs", you need a physician's statement stating that you have a condition for which marijuana is treatable or alleviated by use of medical cannabis. "Sleep disorder" is sufficient and your doctor does not need to say you •should• use medical cannabis or prescribe it, only that you have the condition. A good friend filled in the paperwork and appended a current rx for a prescription sleeping pill and was approved for membership.

@ Gail: A little nail polish size bottle (about 1 oz.) of tincture costs me $25 CDN and lasts about 3 months. I don't use it every evening, maybe 6x/month. I was told to try 10 drops per dose, which works for my body, but every person should titrate this for herself.

@ Rafi: I don't feel high with the tincture, but then I'm in bed, listening to my "Peaceful Rain" nature sounds.

SHHHHH
I make my own potions. I use highest potency "shatter". Decarb it in the oven, add to a mixture of coconut oil (the kind that stays liquid) and good quality CBD oil. Pour it into sterilized mini bottles with marked droppers. Yes, every batch is a little different in strength. It 's not rocket science, so you just have to "test" each bottle starting with a low dose to see the effect. We use it for sleep only. Helps with old age aches and pains and crappy sleep rhythms. Not driving, not doing anything but sleeping. Hurts no one. Screw you Texas. My red state may stay forever stupid.

I use cannabis in both flower and edible forms. Have used it recreationally and medically before Washington state legalized it and since. When undergoing chemo I advocated for a prescription with my oncologist during the days when it was approved for medical use only. Currently my adult kids and family members share with each other while relaxing together.
I have tried tincture for sleep but it seemed to only work for a few hrs. Which supports the statements of others here that you have to experiment because the effects vary with individuals.
I love that due to legalization, 3 generations of my family have used or use it.

I have posted before when the subject of cannabis has come up in the past.
I was not a cannabis user until college in the 60's (moderate) and left it completely when I was raising kids.

I'm now 74, live in California and had a medical license until it became legal for recreational use.

I and my husband are on a fixed income and buying it is cost prohibitive, especially with all the taxes the gov has added on. Therefore, I have been growing my own for the last 5 years. One plant is plenty to last me for a whole year. I buy a "baby" that is 3-4 inches tall ($15) and put it in a pot (no pun intended). I water it and use an organic fertilizer. Anyone with a backyard or even a balcony or patio that gets good sunlight can grow a plant.

I also make my own "cannabutter" and then use it to make cookies which my husband prefers to smoking. One stick of butter (1/2 cup) makes 40-44 cookies. That is so much cheaper than buying the edibiles found at a dispensary.

Like most of us, I have a variety of health problems that have been helped by the use of cannabis (anxiety and insomnia included). All my doctors know that I use it and none have told me that it will harm me in any way or that it affects the medications I also take.

I just bought myself a vape ($70) that uses only dry herb and I really like it because it's nicer to my throat than a joint or pipe.

And finally, I must admit that once I've settled in for the evening, whether to watch some TV or a movie, or to read a book or visit with friends, I really enjoy getting high! Nothing wrong with that. It beats a hangover!

My only worry about using THC at night is that my gait becomes wobbly and I need to use the bathroom at least once but 5 mg definitely helps me sleep better. I find that CBD doesn’t help with pain per se but has a pleasant calming effect.

Went to Berkeley in the 60's...
Got a medical card for myself when I turned 60.
Prices nearly doubled when Calif opened up to recreational use... also Ambien costs me $5 a month...edible gummies about $40... now
I like it for sleep...

I use a tincture in the evening, and although I've been using it for years now, it still works for me. The dosage is a little higher, but I started with less than a full dose and am now using a full one. I also occasionally eat a half of a chocolate but it really does make me high, whereas the tincture (Beauty Sleep) doesn't. Just helps me nod off. I also use THC/CBD topicals which are wonderful for sore knees. :-)

I’m in California, so I can buy anything. I have long had trouble sleeping through the night, so I first tried gummies, which worked only intermittently and cost over $100 monthly. I asked the bud tender (funny term) for advice and he steered me toward full spectrum oil, which contains all the ingredients found in the complete plant. It comes in a small syringe and is the color of blackstrap molasses. You squeeze out a bit the size of a grain of rice onto a cracker, cookie, etc. and eat it. It works for me almost every night! The syringe lasts almost a full month, and costs $45. I often say to my partner “I’m going to the pot store”. The store is decorated to death — it looks like perfume boutique. Never thought I’d see the day!

Illegal in my state, though I have started using refined cannabis oil mixed with coconut oil home-baked into edibles (and eating very small amounts). I have discussed my use of it with both my oncologist and othopedist. I can no longer take anti-inflammatories for my arthritis (according to my cardiologist), and am in constant pain due to bone-on-bone knees. I don’t really like getting high anymore, it was a social activity when I was young, and not much fun as an old recluse in poor health.

I tried a variety of formulations for pain relief while visiting in Colorado before a hip replacement, and found good quality CBD oil to be very effective. - but - too risky to carry over the state line. Normally marijuana doesn’t work as a sleep aid for me, I wish it did, THC has always tended to make me want to get up and do things, not exactly conducive to sleep. I have to resort to an OTC antihistamine every once in a while as a sleep aid (again, ran it by my docs). I try not to take them too often as I understand it will loose its effectiveness.

At my most recent visit to the cancer center, they were telling me they thought there was a push at the state level to make it legal for medicinal purposes and would be administered by hospitals; interesting concept & the first I’d heard anything like that.


I use CBD capsules or tinctures to help me sleep. It's subtle but I feel as if it relaxes my mind. It's expensive here in Colorado: about $1 per capsule.

I'm lucky to be in California with both licensed and unlicensed shops. I'm very active and get lots of aches and pains. I cannot take NSAIDs, but the CBD/THC oil that is 1:1 works fantastically. The THC is THC A -- the non-psychotropic form of THC. That means you get calm and sleepy but not high. I sleep like a log and wake up free from inflammation -- as if I'd taken 1800 mg of Ibuprofen the day prior. It's been a game-changer for me.

I've vaped from time to time, but have switched to flower for real relaxation (and like you, Ronni, I never stay awake long enough to enjoy the high -- so that gave me a good laugh). I don't like edibles...I find I'm groggy the next day even with low dosages and sometimes a bit testy.

Great post.

Have been using a THC bud ground a bit and then put in a vaporizer for a few years now.
I no longer feel the same high as at first, but it definitely affects me. It does affect my balance and concentration for a short time, so I only take it just before I am ready to sleep. It makes a world of difference in getting to sleep. When I wake to use the bathroom, the effects I felt are gone. I fall right back to sleep for the best sleep I've had since I was a carefree kid living at home.

When traveling away from home, I use ambien. It works, but its a drug that can interact with other meds. With THC I never have to worry about that, and my doctors know I use it as described.

I have chronic pain that doesn't seem to be helped with CBD or at least the products I've tried so far. It may become more attractive over the months of recovering from my shoulder surgery tomorrow.

Thanks for the conversation, Ronni. It's interesting to hear others' experiences and uses.

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