Now that the recreational use of marijuana is legal here in Maine (or will be once the newly passed law takes effect), fess up, fellow baby boomers: Did you smoke pot in high school? Do you still partake?
I’ll confess: I smoked occasionally in high school and college (yes, I inhaled); I even bought my own nickel bag once. I took a few tokes in my thirties and forties, and just last year, I tried an edible.
But here’s the thing: I’ve never really enjoyed the high. Weed always made me feel, well, stoned—as in dull-witted and sleepy. My drug of choice is a nice oaky chardonnay—which makes me downright scintillating (well, at least I think so).
But to read some recent research about weed’s advantages for people our age, maybe I need to reconsider. In fact, according to an article in High Times, baby boomers and seniors make up the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis users—due in no small measure to all the documented health benefits it offers.
Various studies point to pot’s value in relieving arthritis pain and inflammation, repairing joints (no pun intended), alleviating depression, easing insomnia, and preventing and treating osteoporosis. The latter inspires this haiku:
Rolling a bone takes
on new meaning when you are
Cannabis also holds promise in battling Alzheimer’s disease and cancer—all conditions with which we boomers are becoming all too familiar. When it comes cancer, in fact, an array of research suggests pot has potential in treating brain tumors, lymphomas and cancers affecting the breast, uterus, cervix, prostate, lung, mouth, colon, biliary tract, thyroid, pancreas and skin. Notably, a 2009 study (published in Cancer Prevention and Research) found that long-term, moderate weed smokers had a 48% lower incidence of head and neck cancers than abstainers. Who knew?
In the 25 states (plus the District of Columbia) where medical marijuana is currently legal, it’s also being prescribed to manage symptoms associated with glaucoma, gastrointestinal disorders, AIDS, migraines, seizures, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.
Plus, weed’s been shown to help you both gain and lose weight. It stimulates the appetite (remember the munchies?)—a boon to patients who are battling nausea and lack of appetite as they undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Conversely, it also helps people drop pounds and maintain a healthy weight. I kid you not! Scientists have found that marijuana users, despite consuming more calories overall, have smaller waists (1.5 inches smaller, on average), higher levels of “good” cholesterol, and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t partake. So pot can help us shed our menopot!
It bears noting that using medically sanctioned weed to treat certain symptoms like pain, nausea or inflammation isn’t about getting high so you simply don’t give a crap about feeling sick. Instead, it’s about using the right kind of pot.
To explain: Pot contains over 60 active compounds called cannabinoids. THC is the one that gets you high. Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t; rather, it has a wide range of medical benefits. It reduces nausea and vomiting, suppresses seizures, and fights psychotic, inflammatory, neurodegenerative, and anxiety and depressive disorders along with tumors and cancer cells.
Using selective breeding techniques, cannabis cultivators are creating varieties with high levels of CBD and nearly nonexistent levels of THC for medical use. So picking the appropriate pot can be good for what ails you—without getting you stoned.
On the other hand, if you do want to get high using a strain higher in THC, the decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana use in a growing number of states is making it a whole lot easier. Like right here in Maine.
Attitudes toward pot are changing, too. In 1969, 84% of Americans opposed legalizing it. In 2016, 54% of Americans polled want it to be legal, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released in June.
The options for consumption are expanding as well. Passing a joint is almost passé these days; now there are electronic vaporizers, capsules, teas, tinctures, drinks and oils. Pot-infused foods go way beyond brownies and include candy, pasta sauce, pizza, popcorn and ice cream. Or you can choose from an array of cookbooks to make your own edibles.
Plus, entrepreneurs are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon in some interesting ways:
For example, Diego Pellicer is a company calling itself “the worldwide leader in property acquisitions and leasing in the emerging cannabis arena.” Targeting “the distinguished consumer with a passion for premium-grade cannabis,” they explain their “retail vision” thusly: “Diego Pellicer is where responsible marijuana connoisseurs and sommeliers gather to explore the world of premium marijuana.” Can you say high-falutin?
Leafly.com is like the Google of ganja. The private equity-funded website claims to be the world’s largest cannabis information resource, making the process of finding the right strains and products “fast, simple and comfortable…whether you’re new to cannabis, a medical marijuana patient, or a seasoned consumer.” They have a mobile app, too.
You know those wine-and-painting classes that are all the rage? Well, at Puff Pass and Paint—with locations in Denver, Washington, DC, and Portland, Oregon, attendees take a hit and pass a bone, bowl or bong while painting their masterpieces. The organizers provide painting supplies; customers (who must be 21 or older) BYOP (bring their own pot) along with their own munchies, beer or wine.
And in San Francisco, medical marijuana cardholders can open the Eaze app on their smartphones, choose a dispensary and place their order—and have it delivered to their door within 20 minutes. Easy-peasy!
Wonder what businesses will sprout here in Maine now that recreational use is legal…
The times they are a-changin’, huh? Until the day comes that I can’t drink, however, I doubt I’ll forego my chardonnay buzz for cannabis. But should I have a medical condition for which weed offers an alternative to pharmaceuticals with side effects, well—never say never, right?
So what do you say? What’s your stand on medical marijuana? What about recreational use? Do you just say no to weed—or do you say why not? Don’t Bogart that joint—or your thoughts…share!