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By Max Greenberg

Marijuana Use by Seniors in Senior Communities Heading Higher

Uploaded: Dec 15, 2016

With the recent vote to legalize marijuana in CA (and other states – plus states that already have legalized pot), it is expected that the use of marijuana by seniors residing in independent and assisted living communities could very well take off soon. How fast and how high it will go is still up in the air. Of course, most seniors in the 80+ age bracket (the typical age that seniors move into these communities) don’t choose to move into senior communities, and it would be expected that marijuana consumption would occur in the privacy of their homes.

Many senior communities are not prepared to offer guidelines yet as to how marijuana use will be handled on their campuses. Most simply have in place a no-smoking policy that they would seek to enforce whether its tobacco or something else being smoked. Since marijuana can be ingested as well as smoked, it would probably be a good idea if they really thought about expanding their policy when it comes to this substance which more and more folks are seeing as a medicine rather than a recreational drug. There is certainly an abundance of “anecdotal” evidence now that cannabis provides relief from a variety of ailments, stimulates appetite, and can promote a general feeling of well-being.

There are legitimate concerns amongst facility operators who receive federal funding that they may be out of compliance with federal law if they allow marijuana usage on their campus, since it is still against federal law to use marijuana. Who knows where that concern will go with the new regime getting set to take over the government?

Senior living community operators who are choosing to ignore creating or modifying their marijuana policy decisions could soon be in for a wake up call. According to the CDC the number of Americans between 55 and 64 years old who use marijuana grew 455% between 2002 and 2014. The number of users in the 65-75 age group is also on the rise. These Americans are senior living’s next target audience.

The biggest competition senior living providers face when trying to keep their communities full is a senior’s private residence. There is a natural fear of giving up your independence by moving into a facility. If you would also have to give up your marijuana in order to move in, this additional obstacle will surely cause many operators to reconsider their policies.

BTW, I heard there is a Grateful Dead – themed retirement community being planned somewhere in Northern California…

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