The healing properties of cannabis are so widely acknowledged that the Canadian federal government and most U.S. state governments have long made exemptions for it as a medicine.
While young people, hippies of all ages and some freewheeling boomers seem to be on board, plenty of people still hold a stigma against using cannabis for pain relief. They’re haunted by the stereotype of the burnout kid who can’t string a sentence together and the dreaded “gateway drug” narrative. This seems to hold especially true for some older people.
But older people are also likelier to face chronic pain of various sorts, as well as depression - conditions cannabis is known to help treat. How, then, to introduce older people to the idea of using THC and CBD as medicine without making them feel uncomfortable?
Do your homework
Some people might be skeptical when it comes to using a medicine they still perceive as illegal. Knowing the laws and the processes for federal exemption is a good place to start. Staff at the Canadian Benevolent Dispensary in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood say it’s a good idea to have examples of other people who use it legally, and some educational materials the person can check out, like a book or documentary.
“With more old school people, it helps to talk and have an educated conversation,” one staff member tells me. “If they don’t believe it, they have to see it.”
Start at the top
Some people may be nervous about feeling high if it’s not something they’ve signed up for in the past. If the goal is pain relief, it can make sense to start with topical balms and ointments. These are mostly CBD-based, and the brain will not absorb any psychoactive elements. The only effect is pain relief of the treated area.
Do it the good old fashioned way
Though some seniors are wary of the herb, let’s be real: most people of a certain age have probably tried a puff of a joint at some point in their lives. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as legalization spreads in the U.S., the number of older filling cannabis prescriptions is growing exponentially: the number of people 55 and older who use medical marijuana jumped from 2.8 million to 4.3 million between 2013 and 2014.
If all else fails, disguise it as treats
If a more intense effect is sought, or a combination of pain and depression, edibles could be the best bet. Tracy Curley makes videos coaching people to make their own edibles. She gives Civilized the perfect recipe for pain:
“Take two tablespoons of infused coconut oil in the morning and at night. If they have diabetes, use a low-dose infusion to help keep their sugars down.”