A growing number of people over 60 throughout California are discovering or thinking about exploring medicinal cannabis as a viable option for pain, sleep, arthritis, stress, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, cancer or any other number of medical issues. Many have either never used cannabis, or are coming back to it for the first time in 20 or more years. It’s a different world from the 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s when many seniors may have last used cannabis, which was probably mostly recreational in nature.
While medicinal cannabis has been legal in California for two decades, it has been largely unregulated and very often associated with street drug dealers who operate “pot shops” making it challenging to navigate the landscape for a location which is staffed with knowledgeable, professional and caring staff. In addition, the stigma of cannabis use is largely associated with “stoners”, deadbeats and potheads. The reality is that much like the population of California, the majority of those who use cannabis are over 60, but most are in the closet because of the stigma. It’s okay to drink alcohol or pop pills, but as a society, there is still a very negative attitude toward cannabis. The good news is that perceptions are changing.
Up until the 1940s when cannabis was made fully illegal and removed from the US Pharmacopeia, it was among the top three prescribed remedies, administered primarily in a tincture form. When cannabis was made illegal primarily for reasons of greed and politics, the American Medical Association was blindsided and eventually forced to find other remedies for the hundreds of maladies for which cannabis has been previously prescribed to treat.
Today, boomers looking to re-engage or explore the world of medical cannabis for the first time in their life, face unique challenges. Not the least of which is to find a dispensary that is reputable, educated, offers quality products and, most importantly, has a patient and caring staff. The dispensary your kids or grandkids use, may not be best suited for you.
Here are a few areas to consider when choosing a dispensary: Location, Location, Location
First and foremost, the location should be safe, clean, professional and easy to access
If you have to enter through the back alley or are not being greeted in a professional and responsible manner, it is likely not a state legal location and may not be the best place to obtain medicinal cannabis. Want to be, as for their license number.
Knowledge and Experience of the Staff
If you are looking to get a good night’s sleep or alleviate chronic pain, having someone in their early twenties describe a product as being “dank” may not be the type of advice you need. Having someone explain the various therapies (smoking is not the only option today), provide guidance about products that have worked for others with similar conditions/complaints, best practices for using the products, as well as proper and clear dosing guidance is paramount to helping you achieve the results you seek. Sometimes, you need to look for expert guidance before going into a dispensary.
Product Quality, Labeling & Test Results
Where are the products coming from? How and where is the cannabis grown? Do the products contain pesticides or chemical fertilizers? What are the cannabinoid ratios? Are the products professionally packaged and labeled to the new California state standards? Any product you purchase should display the universal symbol for cannabis (see below) and contain a batch # which references a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Upon request, this document must be shown to consumers.
Bringing Along a Friend or Family Member
It is strongly advisable to bring a trusted family member or friend with you. From the first visit to the doctor who recommends cannabis to the first visit to a dispensary, the information can be overwhelming. As you navigate this new world, it’s important to have some extra guidance and someone to act as a sounding board. Bringing along a family member, trusted friend or cannabis consultation can help you better understand the various therapies and products.
Learning about the new therapies (you don’t have to smoke cannabis to derive the benefits), techniques, selecting the best products within a person’s comfort zone, and dosing is key to achieving desired results. All of this requires guidance from those experienced in these areas and who know how to communicate clearly with the boomer generation. Take the time to research, read reviews and ask questions before choosing a dispensary. It may take a few visits, but you’ll find the place that is best for you.