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By Susan Boskey
The Baby Boomer generation, now comprising the global senior community, is a diverse group with varied experiences with marijuana. While some individuals from the Woodstock Generation embraced cannabis use defiantly, many others within the same generation never even experimented with it.
In spite of the differing lifestyles within the Baby Boomer generation, we find ourselves at a fascinating intersection today, where marijuana is being recognized and valued as a medicinal tool with potential benefits for people of all ages. The health advantages of marijuana are vast, extending beyond just seniors to encompass individuals of all age groups. The benefits of cannabis can be truly transformative, enhancing lives and, in some cases, even leading to newfound perspectives among older individuals.
Related article: Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Cannabis is having a senior moment
There are too many use of marijuana by seniors, but let's start off with a brief history:
The back-story of marijuana illuminates its undeniable credibility as a medicinal plant. Much more than a ‘drug’ to get you high, marijuana, historically known as cannabis, is the botanical name of a plant in the cannabaceae small family of plants: a potent and versatile plant recognized throughout human history for its multiple health benefits and commercial uses as hemp.
Cannabis is one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops that literally dates back thousands of years. Legend tells us that the first record of its medicinal use was in China by Emperor Shen Nung around 2737 BC. Others say we can only date it back about 2500 years:
William O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician for the British East India Company, is credited as the man who developed cannabis for western medical uses in the mid-1800’s. Becoming popular in the U.S. in the late 1800’s, cannabis treated conditions ranging from tetanus, and rabies to opium habits and female ailments. “Physical evidence of ancient cannabis usage has been reported from the Yanghai Tombs in the Turpan District of the Xinghian-Uighur Autonomous Region in China. A large amount of cannabis radio-carbon dated to 2500 years ago was found in the tomb of a Caucasoid male, dressed as a shaman. . . . . “- History of Cannabis and Its Preparations in Saga, Science, and Sobriquet by Ethan B. Russo, MD 
Related article: How effective medical marijuana is in treating autism?
In 1937 with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act, the use of cannabis became legally prohibited. In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act designating cannabis a “Schedule 1” drug of the same category as heroin, considered similarly to have no medical value and is still in force today.
As of this writing, there are 31 states and DC legal for medical marijuana and 9 states legal for both medical and recreational use: Alaska, Oregon, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC. Access to medical and recreational use varies widely from state to state.
No matter what, cannabis boasts centuries of successful use as a medicine. It turns the tables on what some would call ‘alternative’ medicine since our current system of medicine only took effect between the years 1847 with the inception of the AMA and 1914 via the Rockefeller Foundation.
Use of marijuana by seniors is getting very popular, however, the goal of medical marijuana is to find the precise, personalized dose that can deliver a therapeutic benefit to reduce or heal symptoms and/or root causes of unwanted health issues.
Studies and surveys reveal the growing popularity of cannabis among the senior demographic. In fact:
A June 2018 study published in the journal Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine using data between 2000 and 2017 and analyzed by a team of researchers at University of Florida, concluded that “the greatest increase in marijuana use was observed among those in the older adult population 50 years or older, and those 65 years or older had the greatest increase in marijuana use among all older users.”
In May 2018 a Survey by Northwell Health of138 patients was released: "Older Adults' Use of Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain: A Multisite Community-Based Survey" In it, one of the co-authors of the survey , Dr. Mark Wallace, a board member of the American Pain society said: "The geriatric population is my fastest-growing patient population. With medical marijuana, I'm taking more patients off opioids."
Another study focused on the elderly in February 2018 reported that "After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported."
Chronic pain of one sort or another is a common complaint for the over 65 crowd, and ranks as probably the top reason seniors are turning to medical marijuana. Here’s a list of benefits for seniors using cannabis backed by scientific evidence:Many seniors feel vindicated in the use of cannabis because of being able to receive medicinal benefits ‘without the high’ due to the recent scientific discovery of the cannabidiol (CBD) molecule in cannabis. That said, several of the over 100 different molecules in cannabis, including THC, also offer medicinal benefits.
Although there are 100 of applications use of marijuana by seniors, but lke everything else in life, nothing is entirely all one way. To be fair, here’s the potential downside for seniors using cannabis:
The medicinal use of marijuana is a world away from its cousin, recreational use. The smallest amount capable of affecting any of the above health issues is how medical use is recommended. "My quality of life has increased considerably since starting medical marijuana," one patient said. "I was on opiates for 15 years, and 6 months on marijuana, and off both completely." - Survey by Northwell Health
Cannabis strains with high in cannabidiol (CBD) have shown promising effects to calm the common conditions senior tend to suffer from, including arthritis, chronic pain and even glaucoma, without producing intense stoned effects. It is for this reason that we believe that you will change your mind, if you haven't yet, once you try one of the following high CBD:
I suggest you try them all, find the best 3 or 4 strains for you, and rotate among them, depends on the mood and the type of pain or discomfort you're suffering from.
Susan Boskey is a Baby Boomer and 2018 graduate of the Holistic Cannabis Academy with nearly 50 years of personal involvement in the spectrum of wellness modalities. Her mission today is to intervene in the noise of modern life and help people identify and remove stressors that trigger their dis-ease while providing personalized strategies (including cannabis) towards a living experience of inner calmness, contentment and openness.
Her curiosity about life, and health in particular, fueled her determination to learn everything she could and help others. Susan’s private practice (in-person and on Zoom) is based on whole-person wellness, body, mind and soul, and includes addressing lifestyle issues. As a non-physician coach she enjoys the added flexibility of providing in-depth care plans for her clients. Visit her website: http://lifestylewellnessrx.com