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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Passive Solar Heating: The Basics

It has become abundantly clear, from your many comments, that most do not understand what passive solar heating means. Passive solar means there are no solar panels or any electricity involved in the creation and retention of heat within a building. The heat is created only by passive means of collecting energy from the sun and then retention of that heat by the physical structure of the home.

How is this done?

beginning to build on the slab comanche drive

Number 1: The positioning of the structure is essential. Mike made certain that our home was positioned facing directly south, with a whole wall of the correct type of glass doors and windows. In our case that included incredible views of the Spanish Peaks! You need full sun exposure on that side of the house. No trees, buildings, or other obstructions.

Number 2: In a passive solar home, the slab of concrete the home is placed on must be the heat-sink type and FULLY insulated from the earth. If it is not, the heat will come into the home during the day, sink into the foundation, and leak out of the slab, leaving the home cold at night when heat is most needed.

slab and framing of comanche drive

Number 3: Excellent insulation in the walls and ceiling of the home are essential. Holding the heat in once it enters the home is the only way it can remain warm when it is zero degrees outside. The home must be close to air-tight with quality doors and windows. Your floor must also be some sort of dark tile to help absorb more heat during the day.

new windows with Mike and Lee in photo

A view of the south-facing wall during construction

Number 4: Although the sun will be directly overhead in summer, proper overhangs on the south side of the home are essential to keep the sun from coming into the home too early in the fall. Mike also positioned our south-side overhang so that they are the correct size and angle to add solar panels later if needed.

Our home has very few windows on the north side, but a few on the east and west ends to absorb the morning and evening sun. We absorb solar heat most days in the winter, store it in our slab and it returns to keep us warm at night. Sometimes in mid-winter, we need to open a window at the warmest part of the day to cool off a bit!

clouds over Spanish Peaks summer

The view from our new PASSIVE SOLAR home!

So far in southern Colorado we have never fallen below 60 degrees at night no matter how cold it is outside. We supplement our solar heat with small room electric heaters. No furnace or propane needed. Ceiling fans help to distribute the heat.

Last January, when we lost electricity for three days because of a BAD ice storm, we stayed warm. With this system, we are able to average $100/month for all power to our home. A couple other unexpected benefits? Our home stays cool in the summer with its positioning to the sun and so much ceiling insulation, and it is so quiet inside all the time with no furnace turning on and off in winter!

The funniest part was learning that I didn’t need to turn down the thermostat when I left the house… the heat just keeps on coming in!

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.

IMGP7091

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!

De-metrofying your life: The strong connection between where we live and how we treat others

Sunflowers on a county road

After driving in the country, about half that time on county roads, for the past few years, I feel the need to report my findings are where you live and what it does to you.

friendly waveNow you need to understand, on the county road we take out to the highway from our home, most drivers coming the other way wave to us, even if they don’t know us personally. Even in small towns like La Veta, most are quite friendly. It took me a while to get used to this after living in cities my whole life. At first I didn’t know whether to wave back, because some wave and some don’t.

Then I thought, “Oh screw it. I’ll just going to wave at everybody, regardless.”

Yesterday we drove a few hours north to Denver and back for Christmas. I have become so accustomed to natural friendliness, that when an elderly man sitting in a truck stop looked at me for a second or two, I responded with, “Merry Christmas!” He looked shocked…

Then as we progressed north past Pueblo, attitudes on I-25 took an extreme downward trend, even on Christmas day. Down here, almost no one goes more than 5 MPH over the speed limit. Up there near Colorado Springs and Denver, drivers look at you with disgust if you aren’t going at least 10 over the speed limit.

fuck you from carAnd you can just feel the anger and frustration in the drivers around you. The change in attitude is palpable, and not anything I wish to spend any more years of my limited lifespan in contact with. Really, is this the best we can do for quality of life in the wonderful old USA?

Another fun fact. I had so much pain in my right knee before I left suburbia four years ago, I felt certain I would have to get some sort of surgery. Then I moved here and it rarely ever hurts. Why? Because I’m no longer sitting with my foot on the brake at stop lights. We only have two in our whole county and I can certainly avoid those!

cloudy Spanish Peaks with snow and garden

These are just a few aspects of city versus rural life that make me glad every day that I don’t live near cities anymore. I so rarely feel angry and my stress level is near zero most of the time. It took me a year or so to totally quit pre-worrying everything and just relax. That is why driving back up to metroland is so very illuminating and yet anxiety-producing at the same time…

This is a great example of what I now like to call “de-metrofying my life.” Ha, love it! Now I am clearly off-the-grid mentally.