Cannabis in Colorado History & Boomers’ Cannabis Use Patterns

MJ weedColorado is the home of legal medical and recreational cannabis, and come to find out,  we have history with this stuff. When Colorado became a state back in 1876, both hemp and cannabis could be grown legally, and they stayed that way for decades. By the late 1800s, cannabis oil was a common ingredient in medical tinctures. Asian-style hashish dens were common in larger cities like New York and San Francisco. Increasing popularity led to concerns that hashish would lead to mass addiction, and in 1906 the federal government imposed the first regulation on cannabis intended for consumption: A product simply had to be labeled if it contained the herb.

Between 1915 and 1917, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada all banned cannabis, and in March 1917, Colorado legislators made the use and cultivation of cannabis a misdemeanor. Those who broke the law were subject to a fine up to $10 and a month in jail, part of the growing national temperance movement that led to Prohibition in 1920.

On November 7, 2000, 54% of Colorado voters to approve the use of marijuana in the state for patients with written medical consent. Under this law, patients could possess up to 2 ounces of medical marijuana and cultivate no more than six plants.

Conditions recognized for medical use include: cachexiacancerchronic pain; chronic nervous system disordersepilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizuresglaucomaHIV or AIDSmultiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Patients could not use cannabis in public places, or in any manner which might endanger others including operating a vehicle or machinery after medicating.

Since the enactment of Colorado Amendment 64 in November 2012, adults aged 21 or older can grow up to six marijuana plants privately in a locked space and legally possess all marijuana from the plants they grow, and possess up to one ounce of marijuana while traveling,

Since 2012, Colorado sales of cannabis have been staggering! Since legalization, Cannabis sales have topped 13 billion, with 4.5 billion just in 2017. Tax data shows close to 22 million collected just in 2017.

Boomers and Cannabis Use

cannabis budIf you remember the 60s you weren’t there…

According to the most recent iteration of the 40-year-long “Monitoring the Future” study from the University of Michigan, 85 percent of Americans 50 plus have used illegal drugs, including marijuana, in their lifetimes.

Since 2006, marijuana use has increased significantly among adult Americans age 50 plus. A decade ago, roughly 4.5 percent of people ages 50 to 64, and 0.4 percent of seniors above age 65 had used marijuana in the past year. By 2013, those numbers had increased to 7.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. In percentage terms, marijuana use among 50- to 64-year-olds increased by 57.8 percent, while among seniors ages 65 and up, it ballooned by 250 percent.

This study, based on over 45,000 responses to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, isn’t the first to note that marijuana use is increasing rapidly among older adults. But it digs more deeply into the demographics of older Americans’ marijuana use, uncovering some interesting findings. For example European-Americans and African-Americans are much more likely to indulge in cannabis than Latinos. Low-income and married Americans are more likely to partake than separated or divorced, but single or widowed Americans use cannabis the most.

Many 50+ Americans are using cannabis to deal with mental health issues. Among those 50 and older, people who have suffered with depression or anxiety in the past year are much more likely to use cannabis medically. A number of studies have shown a link between marijuana use and mental disorders. Given the widespread prevalence of medical marijuana laws, some seniors may be turning to cannabis as an alternative treatment for the ailments of old age.

One study found that Medicare reimbursements for a number of common prescription medications dropped sharply after the introduction of medical marijuana laws. 

Medical or not, it’s clear that the rise in cannabis use among older adults is driven by the aging of the baby-boom generation, who dabbled extensively with cannabis in their youth and may be returning to it in old age for a variety of reasons.

Let’s face it. Most Boomers are different in their views of cannabis use compared to the generation before them, and since there are still plenty of boomers under 65, this trend toward increased use in old age is likely to continue into the future.

It is important to note that in some countries, like Israel, medical use of cannabis is considered standard treatment. Medical marijuana use has been permitted in Israel since the early 1990s for cancer patients and others with pain-related illnesses such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients can smoke cannabis, ingest it in liquid and caplet form, or apply it to the skin as a balm.

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Jungle, a fascinating new adventure film!

One way to evaluate the power of anything new to you, is to see how long it takes for it to leave your consciousness. I saw the film “Jungle” a few days ago. Now I feel the need to tell you about it.

Jungle the movie 2017

This is a true story that happened back in 1981, first made into a book in 2005. A young Israeli adventurer named Yossi Ghinsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe) travels to La Paz, Bolivia for a journey into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. He makes a few new friends who are also looking for adventure, and then meets a mysterious Austrian, Karl Ruchprecter, who claims he has great expertise in traveling this jungle and can take them all to see some lost Indian tribe. Yossi believes him, and convinces the others to join him on the trek of a lifetime.

Things go really well for a few days until one traveler injures his feet badly and cannot keep walking. Karl and the injured man decide to try and walk the three days back to La Paz. Yossi and his friend Kevin choose to continue their journey on a makeshift raft. After some great rafting footage, their raft is destroyed in a waterfall, and Yossi is washed away down the river, leaving Kevin far behind. Without a knife or any other kind of survival training, Yossi is forced to improvise shelter and forage to survive.

Daniel Radcliffe in Jungle

Yossi’s three weeks of wandering through the Amazon jungle are the meat of this film. This is the story of amazing survival, but so much more. I like the phrase “discovering the hero within you” to describe the powerful and primal battle Yossi fights inside and outside himself while living on almost nothing, with so many deadly insects, plants and animals. Yossi never gives up hope in spite of so many mistakes, missteps and fascinating hallucinations in this complex psychological thriller. The best part for me was the study of all the ways our mind will fight to protect us from reality, when reality is beyond comprehension. For a few days, Yossi develops a special relationship with a native girl he finds in the forest. Just as quickly as she appears, she vaporizes back into the mist. His dream sequences are also a total hoot!

Meanwhile Kevin is eventually discovered by people from a local town and he begins a campaign to go back into the forest to find Yossi. When flyovers fail, Kevin still believes his friend has somehow survived weeks in the jungle. Kevin bonds with a local boatman and they take off down the river in search of Yossi, finally finding him very nearly deceased, lying on a river bank.

There are so many great lines in this film. I think a few of my favorites came at the beginning when Karl, the Austrian great white hunter who thought he knew everything about jungle life, explains things to these young kids from the ‘civilized’ world. One of their greatest fears was of jaguar, so Karl explains to them: “jaguars love to eat monkey meat, and to them we are just big stupid monkeys.” We never do find out why Karl disappeared into the jungle, never to be heard from again.

What a nice New Year’s gift!

We had a pleasant visitor a few weeks ago, a reporter from the Denver Post who was putting together their final piece for a series on rural life across our state. Kevin Simpson came down to visit with us about why we came here.  I think he did a great job of LISTENING to those of us who chose to leave city life behind. The section on us starts with a quote about Mike’s google search when we found this place: “cheap land in Colorado”  ENJOY!

Colorado Divide: Why some Coloradans are cashing out of the Front Range and seeking their rural happily-ever-after

A New Year, A New Photo Essay

View from our land

Retirement may suggest lifestyle change for some, but how many are willing to take on any real risks at age 60? Enter Mike and I, the quiet revolutionaries. Four years ago this month, we drove down to southern Colorado to purchase a few rural acres of pinon-juniper woodland west of Walsenburg.  Mike’s dream had always been to construct his own passive solar home with amazing mountain views. This was our chance to make that dream come true!

In June 2014 we packed up or got rid of most of our worldly goods, sold our nice  home in suburban Fort Collins, and took off to live in a 100-year-old rental home in Walsenburg, while constructing a new life twenty minutes west of there. Crowning ourselves the “NEW Old Farts,” I began sharing this retirement adventure with the world in October 2014.

Laura and Rasta the view 2014

Although my husband was a true believer from day one, this all felt like a gigantic leap-of-faith for me. With housing prices rising quickly in the metro areas of northern Colorado, I saw little chance of changing our minds later to return to the city if this didn’t work out. So I made myself believe in my relatively new husband’s vision, and you know what? He was right.

Three and a half years later, after too many doubts and incredible challenges to my idea of who I am and where I belong, I am now quite content in our country solar home looking out each morning at the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. My days are filled with supreme quiet and astounding beauty. I have also found a few good friends, a yoga class I like, and all the books I wish to read and movies I wish to view through the La Veta Public Library.

snowy west peak with comanche home in foreground

The view from our new solar home!

I find my need for distractions has dwindled. No, I do not miss city shopping, traffic, stress, noise or air pollution. In fact going into a city of any size is now the perfect reminder that I made the right choice for me. I have finally learned the power of living in this present moment. With so much more available to me and few distractions, I now have the time, energy, and awareness to fully appreciate the world around me.

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Sunrise that occurred while writing this post…

We moved here for a number of reasons: To live close to nature, to try passive solar living, to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives, and to find a far more peaceful, healthy and less expensive lifestyle than cities could offer us. We have received so much more by choosing to live in this beautiful, quiet place where life is luxuriously slow and overflows with simple pleasures.

Would you like to know more about our adventures? Check out my new memoir!

Winter Solstice in the Colorado Foothills

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On December 21st, the winter solstice arrives, a magical time when the sun begins its gradual journey to return to us the delightful warmth of spring. At once, darkness invites us inward to seek and find sustenance in that eternal, luminous ember at our core, while beckoning us out into the night to enjoy our sparkling stars.

Predating Christianity, we humans have been doing battle with midwinter’s ominous gloom for centuries with solstice rituals of light and fire, celebrating the warmer, brighter days ahead. In Europe the ancient Yule festival survives even today, with the traditional Yule log, believed to frighten away evil spirits.

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What a wonderful time to rejuvenate your spirit by appreciating the miracle of our sun and seasons. Take time to contemplate your life.  Nothing happens without personal transformation. Could this be just the right time for your best self to start to shine through?  Is it time to rediscover the positive, creative being you are inside?  What do you love to do, but have denied yourself for ages?  Is it drawing, playing music, watercolors, writing, hiking, dancing?  Is it painting your surroundings in all your favorite colors?  Start focusing on what is dynamic and creative within. What needs to come out now?

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Start each day by asking yourself: “What do I want to happen today?” But this time ask for EXACTLY what you want!

May you know yourself at home in the whole of your life. May you know the vast and infinitesimal blessings of your life as a gift. And may you know and share yourself as a source of great LOVE.