Pass the bong grampa

Amie - posted on 02/22/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )




MIAMI - In her 88 years, Florence Siegel has learned how to relax: A glass of wine. A copy of The New York Times, if she can wrest it from her husband. Some classical music, preferably Bach. And every night, she lifts a pipe to her lips and smokes marijuana.

The use of the U.S.'s most popular illicit drug is growing among retirees as the massive generation of baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s and '70s grows older.

The number of people aged 50 and older reporting marijuana use in the prior year went up from 1.9 per cent to 2.9 per cent from 2002 to 2008, according to surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The rise was most dramatic among 55-to 59-year-olds, whose reported marijuana use more than tripled from 1.6 per cent in 2002 to 5.1 per cent.

Observers expect further increases as 78 million boomers born between 1945 and 1964 age. For many boomers, the drug never held the stigma it did for previous generations, and they tried it decades ago.

Some have used it ever since, while others are revisiting the habit in retirement, either for recreation or as a way to cope with the aches and pains of aging.

Siegel walks with a cane and has arthritis in her back and legs. She finds marijuana has helped her sleep better than pills ever did. And she can't figure out why everyone her age isn't sharing a joint, too.

"They're missing a lot of fun and a lot of relief," she said.

Politically, advocates for legalizing marijuana say the number of older users could represent an important shift in their decades-long push to change U.S. laws.

"For the longest time, our political opponents were older Americans who were not familiar with marijuana and had lived through the 'Reefer Madness' mentality and they considered marijuana a very dangerous drug," said Keith Stroup, the founder and lawyer of NORML, a marijuana advocacy group.

"Now, whether they resume the habit of smoking or whether they simply understand that it's no big deal and that it shouldn't be a crime, in large numbers they're on our side of the issue."

Each night, 66-year-old Stroup says he sits down to the evening news, pours himself a glass of wine and rolls a joint. He's used the drug since he first went to university, but many older adults are revisiting marijuana after years away.

"The kids are grown, they're out of school, you've got time on your hands and frankly it's a time when you can really enjoy marijuana," Stroup said. "Food tastes better, music sounds better, sex is more enjoyable."

The drug is credited with relieving many problems of aging: aches and pains, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and so on. Patients in 14 states enjoy medical marijuana laws, but those elsewhere buy or grow the drug illegally to ease their conditions.

Among them is Perry Parks, 67, of North Carolina, a retired Army pilot who suffered crippling pain from degenerative disc disease and arthritis. He had tried all sorts of drugs, from Vioxx to epidural steroids, but found little success. About two years ago he turned to marijuana, which he first had tried in college, and was amazed how well it worked for the pain.

"I realized I could get by without the narcotics," Parks said. "I am essentially pain free."

But older users could be at risk for falls if they become dizzy, and smoking marijuana increases the risk of heart disease and can cause cognitive impairment, said Dr. William Dale, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

He said he'd caution against using it even if a patient cites benefits.

"There are other better ways to achieve the same effects," he said.

Pete Delany, director of applied studies at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said boomers' drug use defied stereotypes, but is important to address.

"When you think about people who are 50 and older you don't generally think of them as using illicit drugs - the occasional Hunter Thompson or the kind of hippie dippie guy that gets a lot of press maybe," he said. "As a nation, it's important to us to say, 'It's not just young people using drugs it's older people using drugs."'

In conversations, older marijuana users often say they smoke in less social settings than when they were younger, frequently preferring to enjoy the drug privately. They say the quality (and price) of the drug has increased substantially since their youth and they aren't as paranoid about using it.

Dennis Day, a 61-year-old attorney in Columbus, Ohio, said when he used to get high, he wore dark glasses to disguise his red eyes, feared talking to people on the street and worried about encountering police. With age, he says, any drawbacks to the drug have disappeared.

"My eyes no longer turn red, I no longer get the munchies," Day said. "The primary drawbacks to me now are legal."


LOL! Thoughts?


View replies by

Krista - posted on 02/25/2010




I agree Krista, alcohol is much more dangerous than weed. You'd just have a bunch of stoned people driving around going 20 mph.

And they'd all be heading towards Swiss Chalet...

Jenny - posted on 02/25/2010




I know, it just seems completely ludicrous to me. Nobody has EVER died from marijuana use. People have died from drinking too much water for crying out loud. It is the economic backbone of orgoanized crime. In my area you can pretty much smoke in front of police (and I have) and they don't care. When will we treat it like the plant it is and move from an enforcement campaign to education?

Sara - posted on 02/25/2010




I wish the government would wise up and realize how much money they can make out of legalizing weed and taxing the hell out of it. There's your budget deficit right there! Free health care for everyone!

I agree Krista, alcohol is much more dangerous than weed. You'd just have a bunch of stoned people driving around going 20 mph.

Dana - posted on 02/24/2010




I don't see anything wrong with it. I don't smoke but, I would rather do that than take prescription drugs when I'm old and gray.

Krista - posted on 02/24/2010




Hell, I figure that at that age, you've earned the right to have yourself a toke or three. Personally, I have always thought it funny that booze is legal while weed isn't. You never hear of people stabbing each other or getting into fistfights while baked.

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