Seniors have recently been warming up to the idea of medical cannabis use. The topic has been covered many times over in the media recently that senior cannabis use has increased from 2.8 million to 4.3 million between 2013 and 2014 in California[i]. Amazing contrast regardless, the amount of medicinal seniors registered in the state out-numbers the entire population of Kentucky. Since the California Senate Bill 420 went into effect in 2004, over ten years have passed.
So is this delayed wave of activity due to seniors simply being late to the game, or is there more to it?
It is usually satirized how most of our grandparents become aware of trends or pop culture references some years after initial relevancy. But in the case of cannabis, it’s a different story: the demographic was informed, just afraid to become labeled with the ‘stoner stigma’. And this instilled fear dates back to their childhood, when Yippies in their community were getting locked up on a daily basis, and the propaganda agenda of Reefer Madness still lingered.
However, it appears the tide is turning as some of the elders with that traditional mindset are now becoming canna-verts and even advocating its use. One woman, Sue Taylor, gave some insight as to what changed her opinion…
The state certified teacher was not only a classroom instructor, but also a Catholic school principal in the education system, and an advocate against pot use. While writing a parenting book in Georgia, she received a call from her son proposing the idea of implementing her dream of senior therapy adjacent and funded by a dispensary. Quite the proposal for a mother who told her children she would call the authorities if she found any substances in her house. Being afraid she was ‘losing her son to drugs’, the ordained minister moved out to California and quickly became informed about the truth revolving the devil’s lettuce. And that was 7 years ago.
Now, as one of the biggest pot proponent in the Bay Area, her educational subject is now Cannabis, as she informs seniors about the ‘evil’ they grew up with.
“They resonate with me right away for two reasons. Number one, because I am a science teacher. And number two, I tell them two things: you don’t have to smoke it; and the psychoactivity can be lessened or even minimal. And they become very interested” Sue states.
After time has passed, her former senior students even return to her to thank Sue for her lectures. “Time and time again seniors approach me and say ‘Ms Sue, Ms Sue! I’m no longer on the pharmaceutical drugs, I only use cannabis. Over time I was able to eliminate them. One-by-one my doctor took me off of them’. Because they start off with three pills; their high blood pressure meds adversely affect the thyroid, they give them a thyroid pill, then the thyroid pill causes their liver to act up and then they have to take something for their liver. And it goes on, and on and on…”
But as Sue breaks the cycle in California, there is another ‘cannabis crusader’ on a mission to end the misinformed baby boomers. Robert Platshorn leads a similar campaign from a not so similar background as Sue Taylor. The 70 year old Platshorn was actually a criminal, and served 29 years for being involved in the notorious marijuana smuggling surfer ring of the 1970’s.[ii] Upon his release, he started The Silver Tour, which is also geared towards elderly education on cannabis. Robert’s Silver Tour has been featured on The Daily Show, appeared besides Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and made countless radio broadcasts.
It’s comforting to know that people like Sue Taylor and Robert Platshorn are working towards enlightening the elderly. And between the two of them, the goal of informing this AARP crowd seems more and more AARPossible.
[i] The CBS article http://www.cbsnews.com/news/seniors-marijuana-use-fastest-growing-pot-users-prescriptions/
All of Sue’s quotes are from her Soundcloud podcast.