Those of us who came of age in the 1960’s — now moving past that threshold of 70 or beyond — are no strangers to the world of cannabis. Pot was illegal at the time, although no one seemed to have any trouble getting it. I have to say upfront that I’ve not been a fan, not even a little light experimentation. I’ve never smoked pot, and don’t now other than the clouds of second hand smoke I walk through on Seattle streets.
I’ve long known the medical value of marijuana for certain intractable conditions like pain and nausea resulting from cancer treatment. Many years ago a friend, dying of lung cancer, found relief from pot that his adult sons got for him on the street when none of the medications legitimately prescribed were of any help.
With pot being legalized by many states, although not at the federal level, there’s a whole new class of users: the elderly, including those in retirement communities and nursing homes.
“Ruth Brunn finally said yes to marijuana. She is 98.
She pops a green pill filled with cannabis oil into her mouth with a sip of vitamin water. Then Ms. Brunn, who has neuropathy, settles back in her wheelchair and waits for the jabbing pain in her shoulders, arms and hands to ebb.
“I don’t feel high or stoned,” she said. “All I know is I feel better when I take this.”
Most nursing homes are taking a careful “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach when their residents use marijuana, on the basis that research on the effects of pot on the elderly is lacking. But residents who find that pot relieves their pain, makes them more likely to eat, and who simply feel better are insisting on access.
Pot is now easy to get here in Washington state, including the edible kind. I’m no more tempted now than I was in the past. But would I use marijuana if, like the 98 year old who takes it to relieve her neuropathy, I found it helped my quality of life? In a nanosecond.