The need for weed is strong among seniors

Standing room only crowd at seminar on medical benefits of cannabis
By Dan Aznoff | Jan 30, 2018
Photo by: Dan Aznoff Seniors passed around samples of the various marijuana-infused products on the market during a seminar on the medical benefits of cannabis last week at the Mill Creek Senior Center. According to the manager of the Theorem recreational marijuana store in Kenmore, seniors seeking relief from chronic conditions are the fastest growing segment of her customers. Cannabis products have been used to ease pain as well as help people get a good night’s sleep.

Some came with half-empty containers, others came searching for some relief to chronic conditions, while others just wanted to share their own experiences.

Curiosity was the one thing the two-dozen seniors had in common when they attended an educational presentation on the medicinal benefits of cannabis last week at the Mill Creek Senior Center.

Rita Buddy and Bill Erickson sat in the front row hoping for a recommendation for something that could help them sleep.

“I‘ve turned to alternative medication after none of the products off the shelf or prescription medication prescribed by my doctor helped me get a decent night’s sleep,” Buddy said, clutching two bottles of cannabis-based medication she bought from a recreational pot store. “There are obviously differences in the strength and the strains of marijuana used that I need to know more about.

“I came today hoping to find the right dosage.”

Andria Jaggers was forced to apologize to the senior audience when she arrived 45 minutes late for her scheduled presentation. She explained that self-medication with products laced with cannabis may require some trial-and-error.

“If you’re not aware of how marijuana can affect you, we always recommend that people dip their toes into the pool lightly at first,” she said. “Our responsibility as proprietors of a medicinal product is to listen to our customers … to understand what they are looking for when they come in the store.”

Jaggers explained that state law prohibits her from providing medical advice to customers unless they have a medical marijuana authorization card issued by a licensed provider. She said customers without cards can be directed to the appropriate section of the store, but cannot be given recommendations.

Many of the seniors at the Mill Creek presentation last week were fascinated when their guest speaker explained how cannabis products have been used to help with chronic pain, help people sleep, and have been proven to ease seizures for patients with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

“We take our role as health care professionals very seriously,” Jaggers told the senior audience. “Cannabis has some profound possibilities to help in a number of areas, but actual research is limited because the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Class 1 drug just like heroine and cocaine.”

Mara and Ken Benedict made the long drive from their second home on the north end of Whidbey Island to learn more about how cannabis could be used to treat a variety of chronic ailments.

“We are both big believers in natural remedies, if they work,” Mara said.

Her husband was amused by the scheduled presentation next door to City Hall.

“We had to laugh that the Senior Center would promote an event promoting the use of marijuana products when the City of Mill Creek has a moratorium on anything having to do with pot,” Ken said.

Despite the approval of State Initiative 502 by voters in Washington, the Mill Creek City Council approved a moratorium on the distribution of cannabis and all related marijuana products in May of 2014.

“The ban in the city was probably instituted to stop a retail recreational pot store from opening in Town Center,” Ken Benedict said with a sly smile. “The truth is there are plenty of places to buy marijuana and marijuana products just over the border (in Bothell and on the Bothell-Everett Highway in unincorporated portions of Snohomish County).”

The Theorem store is at 6323 NE Bothell Way in Kenmore. Discounts are available to seniors with medical cards.

Jaggers may have arrived late, but she stayed at the senior center for more than an hour after her presentation engaged in conversation with members of the audience. She is scheduled to speak at the Mill Creek Senior Center again on March 21 and then in April at the senior center in Shoreline.

She cautioned the audience that the marijuana on the market is much stronger than the pot they may have smoked in the ’60s.

Jaggers' associate Erin Green said medical uses for cannabis have increased the methods for delivering medication to the bloodstream.

“Many people do not like to smoke,” Green told the seniors. “We have topical ointments that can be rubbed directly into a sore muscle or an arthritic joint. Some people prefer edibles. They take longer to work, but the relief can last for several hours.”

Seniors, according to Jaggers, are the fastest growing segment of the customers in her store.

“Let’s face it,” the store manager said. “These seniors probably smoked pot when they were teens and in their 20s. They are comfortable with marijuana and are curious to learn how the pot they used as kids can help them as adults.”

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