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  • John Aigner

My reunion with Maryjane…it was 420 friendly


About 20 years ago I was addicted to cigarettes, at about a pack and a half per day, which I quit, by going cold turkey at an ashram in Canada, I then took up or replaced cigarettes with an addiction to marijuana.

Through attending 12 Step retreats. Smokenders, and Pot Smokers Anonymous, I ultimately kicked that habit.

I am now 85 years old, and this week I ingested a marijuana edible for the very first time. SPOILER ALERT It was a lovely trip, and reminded me of why I relished marijuana in the first place.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will report that I only ingested 1/3 of the edible which I had received from a friend. My reaction was quite positive but might not be typical. An 85-year-old's reaction to today's cannabis may vary significantly based on their personal experiences, beliefs, and cultural background. Here are a few possible reactions:


Surprise at the increased potency: I was curious about that and also a bit leery. Today’s cannabis strains are much stronger than those available in the past. An 85-year-old individual might be surprised by the potency of modern strains, which have been selectively bred to contain higher concentrations of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. My first trial involved consuming only one-third of the available gummy in my possession. That was plenty.

Curiosity about medical uses: Many older adults are curious about the potential medical benefits of cannabis, as its use has become more mainstream and accepted for treating various conditions like chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety. They may be open to exploring its therapeutic potential, especially if they suffer from ailments that cannabis is known to alleviate.

Nostalgia for past experiences: Some older individuals may have used cannabis recreationally in their younger years and could feel nostalgic about their experiences, especially if they lived through the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. That is certainly true for me.


Concerns about legality and social acceptance: Given that cannabis was illegal and stigmatized for most of my life,I still feel uncomfortable, a feeling I believe I will quickly shed, with the idea of using it, since it is legal in my area. I am not particularly worried about what my friends and family might think nor do I have any concerns about possible legal repercussions.

Skepticism: Some 85-year-olds might be skeptical about the benefits of cannabis, especially if they have been exposed to anti-cannabis messages throughout their lives. They may not fully trust the newfound acceptance and legality of cannabis and might remain cautious in their approach. That brings to mind some of the viciously anti marijuana propaganda that was being circulated during the 20th century.

Indifference: Lastly, some seniors may simply be indifferent to the marijuana scene, feeling that it does not directly impact their lives and choosing not to engage. Individual reactions will vary, and this answer does not cover all possible perspectives. It's important to note that these reactions are not mutually exclusive, and an individual may hold a combination of views on the subject.

According to a leading Gerontologist, a new question must be added to the list that mental health clinicians ask their older patients while taking a history, regardless of age: “Have you used any cannabis products recently?”

He reportedly learned this lesson during a follow-up appointment with an 82-year-old man with Alzheimer disease. The elder gentleman had reported some rather abrupt cognitive decline, and the clinician asked him and his wife about recent medical changes without finding any clear precipitant. Finally, his wife sheepishly confessed that their son had sent them a grab bag of cannabis-derived products that the patient was taking. The family was desperate for anything to help his cognitive decline and they had heard that cannabis was a miracle cure for Alzheimer disease and many other conditions. Unfortunately, the patient received no benefit but did experience some mild, noticeable adverse effects. Without my probing, I never would have known. The next patient I asked explicitly about using cannabis products responded in an equally explicit manner: “No I haven’t,” he said, “but can you get me some?” It was clear that the age of cannabis had arrived.


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