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By Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

As another year draws to a close, and I turn another year older, I am reminded how nicely marijuana compliments the aging process. And yet, because of the fears and misconceptions from the decades-long “reefer madness” government propaganda campaign, most seniors today remain unaware of the benefits and pleasures of cannabis. Those over 65 years of age remain the only demographic in the country who do not yet support marijuana legalization. We need to change that.

Marijuana and Health

First, aging brings a host of natural aches and pains, many of which are best remedied with a little marijuana smoking. Most of us who qualify as seniors end up with a growing list of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by our physicians, most of which have some undesirable side-effects, some minor and some not so minor. Recent research has documented that those who use marijuana to treat the symptoms of their conditions generally use fewer dangerous, Schedule 2 narcotics, avoiding the inevitable unpleasant side-effects those drugs bring, along with their palliative effects.

Improving the Quality of Life for Seniors

But primarily the point I would like to make in this column is the positive role marijuana can play in an older individual’s life, beyond the traditional medical applications. That is, marijuana can help enhance the quality of life at a time when most seniors have time on their hands and can explore facets of life that might have been missed when one’s career or family responsibilities consumed every available moment. We can now slow down and smell the flowers.

Many older citizens fill their time by traveling more extensively than before; some spend more time playing golf or tennis or some other sport that may have been only an occasional diversion during their earlier years; and many pursue an intellectual search to learn more about the world around them, an option made enormously more attractive with the internet.

And each of these uses of their free time, and many more, can be enhanced with the use of marijuana.

With a couple of hits of high-quality weed, one might be inclined to finally take the time to learn that foreign language you have always wanted to master; or to research the family tree to learn your family’s history; or to more fully understand some of the serious social and environmental challenges with which we are confronted today.

There are wonderful, creative ways to spend free time when your mind is open to new experiences.

Opening the Doors of Perception

The marijuana high, when used properly, opens the doors of perception and allows us to ask ourselves questions we might not have asked before, when we were overwhelmed with the challenges of everyday life – it stimulates one’s intellectual curiosity.

By the nature of our existence, as we grow older we naturally ponder the reality that we are mortal and will not live forever, and that none of us are certain precisely what that means. It is the nature of the human experience that some of these question are beyond our ability to answer.

Marijuana can be an entheogen that helps one achieve a degree of calmness about such imponderable spiritual questions, and allows us to set those issues aside while we enjoy each day, even with all of life’s uncertainties and challenges.

And finally, the marijuana high can turn an otherwise ordinary time into a special experience. Marijuana enhances the pleasures we derive from spending time with family and friends; from good music and good food, however one defines those things; and from those ordinary things that bring us joy each day, such as seeing a new-born baby, listening to the birds chirp in the morning, smelling the distinctive aroma of spring flowers, playing with our pets, or watching our grandchildren develop into younger versions of ourselves.

This seems to me to be the most useful aspect of the marijuana high; it allows us to find value and richness in the ordinary.

For seniors who enjoy smoking marijuana, there is really no such thing as “too much time on our hands.” It’s all good time that we can use to enrich our lives.

I sometimes think marijuana is wasted on the young; it really is best suited for those of us who are now senior citizens, with discretionary time, and enjoying every minute of it.

Stoner Seniors. It has a nice ring to it!

To continue reading this story, visit our friend’s website (opens in a new window):: Pot and Senior Citizens: It’s a Natural Fit