The negative stigma attached to marijuana since the onset of prohibition in the 1930s has made a dire impact on the population that makes up that generation.
Around 40% of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from several aches and pains. Others feel this pain for only short-term, while some have pain that lingers on.
Many elderly patients deal with insomnia, cancer, kidney failure, and other frightening ailments. Some are recovering from invasive surgeries and are in large amounts of pain.
Anesthetics are little help to relieve the pain after prolonged use, which these seniors have probably been doing since living this third act of their life.
In addition to their guardians and caregivers, these seniors must come to terms with the therapeutic indulgences that seniors can receive from the marijuana plant.
When the prohibition of marijuana started in the ’30s, the elderly of today were kids. From the early stages of their lives, the government instilled that marijuana was cancer to society. This installation continued until about the mid-1900s, when they also ingrained those same messages in their children.
The government painted marijuana as a detriment to society that today’s seniors shouldn’t tolerate, and for these seniors, that school of thought has remained the same. While they may have heard about the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis in their state of residence, they still deem cannabis supplies as an illicit substance.
In a recent survey by Gallup, less than 19% of Americans over the age of 75 say they tried marijuana at some point in their lives. It’s a clear representation of how low the acceptance of the drug is among the demographic. For children born in the 1960s, several have taken steps to register for the medical marijuana program.
Many of these senior citizens discreetly bring up topics on cannabis, as if they could still do some jail time for partaking. The negative stigma towards marijuana is tenfold in elderly Americans who are also people of color.
They endured traumatizing episodes due to the War on Drugs and have been left at a disadvantage ever since. Most of these seniors have been conditioned to believe cannabis consumption is synonymous with destruction. Young or old, nobody deserves to suffer from chronic pain, especially when marijuana products have been approved and proven to treat such conditions.
We must address the crisis; drugs such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen have significant side effects on the organs of the elderly. Many who can tolerate opioids have dealt with it.
However, opioids are not good enough to resolve the issue and the extreme risk of addiction.
The fear-mongering, stigmatization, and prohibition of cannabis have held these American seniors back from accessing something that can help them in several ways. The federal ban on marijuana is one of the primary factors that older people insist that marijuana consumption can hurt them.
It encapsulates their entire belief that marijuana remains a societal ill. However, these senior denizens are not to blame for being skeptical of plant-based medicine due to what they’ve been conditioned to believe.
Associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and pediatrician Hillary Lum said that many elderly citizens are scared and sometimes shameful whenever they ask about marijuana.
In a survey conducted by Lum in 2019, “30% of older adults didn’t answer the question about whether or not they used medical marijuana.”
“If people feel uncomfortable with it on an anonymous survey, they may also feel uncomfortable telling their doctor. That could have ramifications for their health,” Lum said.
Even though the marijuana culture and community are growing and making headway throughout the nation, federal decriminalization will be the most effective method to convince older adults and their guardians that marijuana is their best choice to get relief.