Legalization, fading stigma means some seniors may turn back to pot
Marijuana will be legal in Canada in just two weeks, and while there's been a lot of talk about cannabis and kids, there hasn't been much discussion about seniors.
Advocates for the elderly gathered in Vancouver Tuesday at a conference where the topic of seniors' consumption drew a crowd. Should they have the freedom to access and consume recreational weed while in retirement homes?
"We do have that population of baby boomers who are going to be moving into seniors' care very soon, so their expectations of what is provided in a seniors' home or assisted living is very different from that of their grandparents," BC Care Providers Association's Daniel Fontaine said.
"We have a lot of members who provide services to seniors across British Columbia in the form of long-term care, assisted care, home care, etc., and this issue has come up."
Also included in the discussion is the consumption habits of those who work at those facilities. Fontaine said he thinks the industry will learn and evolve over time, after listening to concerns from seniors and staff.
A series of BCAA commercials pokes fun at the idea of baby boomers getting high, showing a Millennial having a drug talk typically given by parents to his dad.
"The reality is with stigma around cannabis use falling dramatically and rapidly, lots of people 50 years and older are turning back to cannabis," Hexo Corp Cannabis vice-president Terry Lake said.
"They may have consumed it in their high school years, university years, and then went away from it, but now they're turning back."
The former B.C. health minister says Generation X and seniors are keen on green to help with issues such as insomnia, arthritis and menopause.
"So older people will be looking at cannabis not just to get high and enjoy the old records from the '60s, but also to manage their lifestyle and help them stay healthier longer," Lake said.
But he cautioned, "If you consumed cannabis in the '60s or '70s, you developed a bit of a tolerance – your liver develops enzymes that break it down faster. If you go back to it now after not using it for a long time, it's going to affect you faster and to a greater extent."
Those turning back to pot products should also be wary of clashes with other medications.
While it could be an awkward conversation, health officials say it may be an important one to have with the seniors in your life.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos