The elderly represent the largest medical marijuana consumer group. However, more and more senior citizens are turning to marijuana for recreational purposes — and it’s not just the aging baby boomers that left the substance behind in college. Some retirees are trying marijuana for the first time.
In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.3% of adults between the ages of 50 and 59 used marijuana, more than double the percentage that reported it 10 years ago.
HuffPost Live streamed “Grandparents & Ganja,” a discussion about marijuana’s unexpected clientele. Speakers included: MPP’s communications director, Mason Tvert; Mason’s grandmother, Helen Shuller; Keith Stroup, the founder of NORML; and former Washington State Senator George Rohrbacher. Continue reading →
Today’s New York Times includes a feature story about California medical marijuana provider Matthew Davies, who federal prosecutors are pressuring to accept a five-year mandatory minimum as a plea agreement. Federal authorities indicted Matthew last year on charges of marijuana cultivation, calling him “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.” By all accounts, the two dispensaries Matthew owned were in total compliance with state law and were models of professionalism and service.
He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits.
“This is not a case of an illicit drug ring under the guise of medical marijuana,” [his attorney] wrote. “Here, marijuana was provided to qualified adult patients with a medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Records were kept, proceeds were tracked, payroll and sales taxes were duly paid.”
Does this sound like a dangerous criminal who we should spend federal resources to arrest, prosecute, and possibly jail? Medical marijuana providers who followed state law, like Matthew, weren’t supposed to be the targets of federal attack and provide an excellent example for others in the industry. Nevertheless, he is facing a significant amount of time in jail regardless of whether he takes the plea, which will surely take a serious toll on him and his family.
“To be looking at 15 years of our life, you couldn’t pay me enough to give that up,” Mr. Davies said at the dining room table in his two-story home along the San Joaquin River Delta, referring to the amount of time he could potentially serve in prison.
Every day there are more and more stories in mainstream media outlets about Prop 19 and the growing national movement to end marijuana prohibition. That alone is a promising development. But what’s even more telling has been the way the tone of the coverage is starting to shift from asking, “Should marijuana be legal?” to, “Is marijuana going to be legal? And if so, when, where, and how?”
Democratic strategists are studying a California marijuana-legalization initiative to see if similar ballot measures could energize young, liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election.
California’s Proposition 19, if approved by voters, will legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for the first time in the United States. Many other states have relaxed their marijuana laws. Is this the tipping point when marijuana follows alcohol and gambling from criminal offense to harmless pastime — and source of new tax revenue?
Like it or not, the tens of millions of people in California serve as a laboratory for new legislation, and their state sets a legal example that the rest of the states might follow. So, even if you do not live in California, pay attention to Proposition 19: maybe someday marijuana may come to a store near you.
In July, I wrote about the growing belief among political strategists that candidates can benefit from supporting marijuana reform. Just last week, the Oregon Democratic Party endorsed Measure 74, the ballot question that would add state-licensed dispensaries to that state’s medical marijuana law.
Major news! The Department of Veterans Affairs has formally announced that patients being treated at V.A. facilities will be allowed to use medical marijuana if they live in one of the 14 states where it is legal.
This historic development was trumpeted over the weekend in a front-page New York Times story that quoted MPP’s Steve Fox. “We now have a branch of the federal government accepting marijuana as a legal medicine,” Steve told the Times, adding that the department needs to make its guidelines clear to patients and V.A. officials nationwide.
Under the policy, V.A. doctors still won’t be allowed to recommend marijuana to patients, but legal medical marijuana users will not be automatically precluded from pain management programs. Previously, many veterans believed they could lose access to prescription pain medications if they were found to be using medical marijuana, and some—including an Army veteran interviewed by The Times—were even told they needed to choose between medical marijuana and other pain medications. This latest policy clarification should prevent similar future incidents.
But there is still more that needs to be done. The new policy does not apply to patients or veterans in the 36 states where medical marijuana is still illegal. Many veterans rely on the V.A. for all their healthcare needs as well, and even if they live in a medical marijuana state, they may not be able to receive a recommendation from a non-V.A. doctor.
Regardless, this is a huge step forward – and one more crack in the federal government’s baseless opposition to sane medical marijuana policies.
The absurdity of marijuana prohibition in the United States is on full display today in The New York Times. On the one hand, we have the national “newspaper of record” publishing a long, mouth-watering and entirely non-critical article about “haute stoner cuisine” in the restaurant industry. On the other hand, we have an article on their Web site reporting that a professional basketball player for the NBA’s New York Knicks was arrested last night for marijuana possession.
Beneath a headline, “Marijuana Fuels a New Kitchen Culture,” the Times explains that marijuana use is rampant throughout the restaurant industry – but that isn’t a bad thing.
“Everybody smokes dope after work,” said Anthony Bourdain, the author and chef who made his name chronicling drugs and debauchery in professional kitchens. “People you would never imagine…
“There has been an entire strata of restaurants created by chefs to feed other chefs,” Mr. Bourdain said. “These are restaurants created specially for the tastes of the slightly stoned, slightly drunk chef after work.”
But what is apparently a bad thing is someone actually using marijuana outside of this exclusive restaurant culture. This is the message sent by the screaming headlines in the Times and elsewhere about the arrest of Knicks star Wilson Chandler. Ironically, he was arrested at almost the exact time the restaurant article appeared online.
We are at a crazy time in history in which marijuana’s popularity in an ever-expanding segment of the populace has advanced far ahead of more traditional segments of our society’s acceptance of it. We look forward to the day when traditional society — and our lawmakers — catch up. Fortunately, that day is being forced upon them whether they like it or not.