Seniors’ Medical Pot Collective Faces Opposition in California

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A senior citizen “pot collective” is facing growing criticism in a Southern California retirement community, highlighting disparate viewpoints about marijuana in older Americans.

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In a classic tale of old people who want to get a little stoned, 150 residents of the 18,000-person gated retirement community Laguna Woods Village set up a little weed distribution plan. The only problem: the Golden Rain Foundation, the group of volunteers that governs the residential community, disallowed the cultivation of marijuana in the development’s gardens.

Per their state-mandated legal right, any of those seniors who have medical marijuana cards may grow up to six mature plants per person in their private residences. Despite this, their usage – whether medical or otherwise – has not been universally accepted in the community with an average age of 78.

“This did stir up a lot of feelings,” Laguna Woods Village resident Susan Margolis, 67, told the Associated Press. “There are a lot of people that have never used marijuana and there are younger people who have used marijuana who say, ‘Come on now, this is just ridiculous.’”

Woods said that the attitude towards marijuana was primarily split along generational lines. Residents of the community must be at least 55 to move in.

After the communal growing plan was nixed by the community’s governing board, members of the senior pot collective tried to run their own greenhouse in a rented facility away from Laguna Woods Village, but they reportedly lost thousands of dollars worth of marijuana when a light was plugged into the wrong outlet.

In another attempt at having a steady supply, some seniors gave seedlings to a grower operating a greenhouse in Los Angeles, but the police shut down the facility and the plants were destroyed.

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After that incident, a collective member began two off-site greenhouses, the location of which the seniors refused to disclose to the Associated Press. According to one member, the marijuana is sold to collective members on a sliding scale predicated on need and ability to pay. Prices range from $35 an ounce to about $200 an ounce.

But while collective members are smoking strains with names like “Sour Tsunami,” many are dealing with debilitating health problems. Several regular users told the AP that they suffered from osteoarthritis, debilitating nausea and the after-effects of a stroke.

It is this pain, rather than a desire to be stoned, that drives many members of the pot collective to grow and smoke marijuana.

“Look, whether it’s a legal thing or not a legal thing, it helps you. I am 90 years old and I don’t mind talking about it,” collective member Joe Schwartz told the AP.

Schwartz’s is an attitude that is growing in popularity among seniors throughout the country. A series of surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that the number of people aged 50 and older who reported marijuana use in the prior year went up from 1.9% to 2.9% from 2002 to 2008.

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