Bay Area Senior Citizens Find The Cannabis Scene is Lit
Bay Area seniors are discovering you can 420 well into your 70s, 80s, or longer. Senior citizens are the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis users in the U.S., and the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 18% of people 55 and older are now marijuana users. (That’s up from just 5% of that same age group in the 2007 Survey).
The emergence of cannabis delivery services and non-smokable products like edibles and tinctures makes acquiring and using marijuana easier than ever for seniors who suffer from arthritis, insomnia, or other conditions that come with aging. And medical marijuana is helping them stay off expensive prescription plans of opioids and pharmaceutical drugs.
“I was able to throw out the Vicodin,” 87-year-old grandmother Bryna Nalibow says in the Rappler video above. “And I found that if I took a hit of the vape at night, it made me sleep longer.”
One of the hottest spots on the Bay Area senior citizen spliffing scene may be Rossmoor, a Walnut Creek retirement community. The facility has its own Rossmoor Medical Marijuana Club, which draws about 200 to its meetings each month.
Rossmoor residents have a nurse practitioner to help craft their medical marijuana regimen. “Most of my patients that I see in my office are older, the average age is 76,” that nurse Renee Lee tells KPIX. “59% of them are coming to me for chronic pain, another 35% is sleep. The rest is a mix of anxiety, depression, cancer, Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s.”
The group is well-organized and has been successful at influencing Walnut Creek pot policy. They got the city council to approve cannabis delivery services in Walnut Creek by turning out in force at a June meeting, though the council stopped short of allowing brick-and-mortar dispensaries in the East Bay suburb.
The surge of seniors using the sticky-icky begs the question of whether assisted living facilities and retirement communities like Rossmoor can allow marijuana on the premises. A publication called Senior Housing News looked into the matter and found that most do, though policies vary by facility. Generally speaking, residents can have marijuana if they keep it in their own room and not leave it out visible (or smellable). But they’re often asked not to smoke anywhere on facility grounds.
“If they want to use marijuana, they can use edibles, they can use tinctures, they can use teas, they can cook with it. They just can’t smoke it,” Chateau Retirement Communities senior vice president of operations Angelia Brigance tells Senior Housing News. “If somebody is smoking in their room and opens their door, that smoke gets into the hall. It’s about air quality.”
The bummer for senior citizens is that Medicare, Medi-Cal, and health insurance plans will not cover the cost of your marijuana. The plant is still federally illegal, as are all of its active ingredients, so no public and private firms cannot legally reimburse you for it.
But with more people of a certain age using that certain drug, cannabis is definitely having its senior moment.