The Devil’s Lettuce or Harmless Healing Plant?
We’ve come a long way from the days of Reefer Madness. More and more Baby Boomers are entering the senior age demographic at a rapid pace, and older Americans’ attitudes towards cannabis seem to be changing even quicker. With cannabis becoming legal in several states now, many older people who previously thought ill of the plant have been prompted to reassess: Is cannabis really hell-sent, or is it a gift from Mother Nature?
Although Baby Boomers are quickly becoming the majority of the senior citizen population, folks who are currently over 74 are part of the Silent Generation. The Silent Generation is statistically the most opposed to cannabis, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The Silent Generation was bombarded with anti-cannabis propaganda for many years, most famously exemplified with the 1936 movie Reefer Madness. Although the sentiments expressed in the film seem absurd to most people now, the fear-mongering worked– as of 2015, the Silent Generation still largely continued to oppose cannabis legalization.
But from 2015-2018, older Americans’ support for cannabis increased 75%. Though this figure includes Baby Boomers, I personally knew a member of the Silent Generation whose views on cannabis shifted during this time as well: my husband’s grandmother. Though I never got to discuss her views on cannabis with her in depth, I know some of how she felt from speaking to her daughter, my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law herself had already been somewhat ambivalent about cannabis for much of her life, but when she searched for an alternative to opioids for pain and anxiety, she found herself dissatisfied with the offerings of traditional medicine. She discovered a cannabis product intended for microdosing– tablets with very low amounts of CBD and THC intended to be taken daily. She discovered that this regimen was exactly what she needed to manage her chronic pain and anxiety without the use of pharmaceuticals.
Though my mother-in-law was thrilled about how cannabis was benefiting her, she was still afraid to confess this to her mother. She feared that her mother would disapprove, so she kept the details of her new treatment to herself for a while. After some time, however, it became impossible not to mention. As she saw her mother growing older and experiencing chronic pain and insomnia with little to no relief, she finally decided to bring up the topic of cannabis.
At first, she suggested products containing mainly CBD and little to no THC, but she was surprised to find that her mother was actually open to high THC products as well. After trying a few different formulations of tablets, RSO, and gummies, my grandmother-in-law fully embraced cannabis as a part of her life. She became fascinated with the plant, even beginning to grow her own with plans to juice the leaves. I had never even heard of juicing cannabis before, but it does have a lot of awesome potential benefits!
My grandmother-in-law sadly passed away this year, but I’m still very grateful to cannabis for helping her live out her final days with minimal stress and pain. As the saying goes, the only thing certain in life is death. I would argue that chronic pain almost always precedes a natural death, making it a ubiquitous human struggle. Ailments such as anxiety and insomnia are nowhere near uncommon either. Cannabis has been shown to help with all of these.
Given the upward trend of cannabis acceptance, I’m hopeful that more and more older people will be turning to cannabis for common ailments. Having been bombarded by anti-cannabis propaganda for many years, it’s no wonder why nearly all of the Silent Generation and still much of the Baby Boomer generation think poorly of cannabis. It was painted as the Devil’s lettuce, a weed from Hell that made people insane. Thankfully, many people are now able to regard these sentiments with humor since they’ve been educated on cannabis, but there are certainly still older people who continue to think of cannabis as being farmed by the Devil. I truly believe it is a wonderful plant that can significantly improve one’s quality of life. As American senior citizens get older, I urge them for no one’s sake but their own to give cannabis a chance.
“Juicing Cannabis Benefits and How to Juice Cannabis”
“Marijuana Use Among Baby Boomers Rose Tenfold Over Decade As Seniors Seek Out Pot For Medical Treatment”
“Marijuana Use Among Older Adults Rises Sharply”