Pot and Senior Citizens: It’s a Natural Fit


As another year draws to a close, and I turn another year older, I am reminded how nicely marijuana  compliments the aging process. And yet, because of the fears and misconceptions from the decades-long “reefer madness” government propaganda campaign, most seniors today remain unaware of the benefits and pleasures of cannabis. Those over 65 years of age remain the only demographic in the country who do not yet support marijuana legalization. We need to change that.

Marijuana and Health

First, aging brings a host of natural aches and pains, many of which are best remedied with a little marijuana smoking. Most of us who qualify as seniors end up with a growing list of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by our physicians, most of which have some undesirable side-effects, some minor and some not so minor. Recent research has documented that those who use marijuana to treat the symptoms of their conditions generally use fewer dangerous, Schedule 2 narcotics, avoiding the inevitable unpleasant side-effects those drugs bring, along with their palliative effects.

Improving the Quality of Life for Seniors

But primarily the point I would like to make in this column is the positive role marijuana can play in an older individual’s life, beyond the traditional medical applications. That is, marijuana can help enhance the quality of life at a time when most seniors have time on their hands and can explore facets of life that might have been missed when one’s career or family responsibilities consumed every available moment. We can now slow down and smell the flowers.

Many older citizens fill their time by traveling more extensively than before; some spend more time playing golf or tennis or some other sport that may have been only an occasional diversion during their earlier years; and many pursue an intellectual search to learn more about the world around them, an option made enormously more attractive with the internet.

And each of these uses of their free time, and many more, can be enhanced with the use of marijuana.

With a couple of hits of high-quality weed, one might be inclined to finally take the time to learn that foreign language you have always wanted to master; or to research the family tree to learn your family’s history; or to more fully understand some of the serious social and environmental challenges with which we are confronted today.

There are wonderful, creative ways to spend free time when your mind is open to new experiences.

Opening the Doors of Perception

The marijuana high, when used properly, opens the doors of perception and allows us to ask ourselves questions we might not have asked before, when we were overwhelmed with the challenges of everyday life – it stimulates one’s intellectual curiosity.

By the nature of our existence, as we grow older we naturally ponder the reality that we are mortal and will not live forever, and that none of us are certain precisely what that means. It is the nature of the human experience that some of these question are beyond our ability to answer.

Marijuana can be an entheogen that helps one achieve a degree of calmness about such imponderable spiritual questions, and allows us to set those issues aside while we enjoy each day, even with all of life’s uncertainties and challenges.

Enhancing Ordinary Pleasures

And finally, the marijuana high can turn an otherwise ordinary time into a special experience. Marijuana enhances the pleasures we derive from spending time with family and friends; from good music and good food, however one defines those things; and from those ordinary things that bring us joy each day, such as seeing a new-born baby, listening to the birds chirp in the morning, smelling the distinctive aroma of spring flowers, playing with our pets, or watching our grandchildren develop into younger versions of ourselves.

This seems to me to be the most useful aspect of the marijuana high; it allows us to find value and richness in the ordinary.

For seniors who enjoy smoking marijuana, there is really no such thing as “too much time on our hands.” It’s all good time that we can use to enrich our lives.

I sometimes think marijuana is wasted on the young; it really is best suited for those of us who are now senior citizens, with discretionary time, and enjoying every minute of it.

Stoner Seniors. It has a nice ring to it!





About Author

Keith Stroup is a Washington, DC public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970. Stroup first smoked marijuana when he was a first-year law student in 1965 and has been a regular smoker and a cannabis activist ever since. In 1992 Stroup was the recipient of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform presented by the Drug Policy Foundation; in 2010 he received the Al Horn Award from the NORML Legal Committee for a lifetime of work advancing the cause of justice; and in 2012, Stroup received the High Times Lifetime Achievement Award. Keith currently serves as NORML's Legal Counsel and on NORML's Board of Directors. He resides in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife.


  1. After a certain age, marijuana should be available to us without permission from government, without extra taxes, without paying a doctor to recommend a medical card that we then have to pay for and have renewed every year at even more expense. After all, it’s non-toxic and we are not children. We know what works for us and what doesn’t. Indeed, Keith, It’s a blessing for us as we grow older.

    • I’m with you on this! We need to vote out the douchebags in office, and elect senior stoners. Life would be so much more peaceful.

  2. Rod is on the Gas on

    Yes indeed!!

    There’s good-a-plenty waiting for the courageous senior. I recommend that you adjust your pill intake down to a maintenance dosage and elevate your cannabis usage. It’s a better life, one that your mind is yearning for. Peace and love will come to you.

    • Charles N. Sanders on

      I have 70 years of life. I am a Vietnam Veteran 66-67 1st Cav Airborne, all the way. I been self medicating with Cannabis for 50 years this year. I am very active, I in-line skate, I ski and I cycle and I do believe Cannabis has helped me…now it may not work for everybody but it helps my PTSD and no side effects. It’s all natural! What is the problem? No one has died from consumption of Cannabis. Can’t say the same about liquor, tobacco, over the counter drugs. Duh.

  3. 62 and disabled from brain cancer treatment, I’ve been a daily smoker over 7 years to combat a predisposal for seizures developed through the treatment. I’m a 12 handicap golfer walking 18 holes frequently. It’s as close to the fountain of youth as there is.

  4. Lawrence Goodwin on

    “Yet do not spurn my gift completely/Oh, you Three Wise Men please demur/Behold a plant that smokes more sweetly/Than either frankincense or myrrh…and let not mankind bogart love,” sang Mr. Willie Nelson in a famously goofy rendition of that old Christmas song on “The Colbert Report.”

  5. Hey alright you talked me into it. Well maybe this is a bit late in my case as I’ve been…enlightened in Washington state since about 1970 but the article is right about seniors and MJ being made for each other. The many choices available especially for pain relief makes MMJ the treatment of choice for those looking to escape the side effects of BIG pharma’s not-so-magic potions and high costs both financially and to one’s health. The real criminals are those in govt that would gladly withhold this life saving natural medicine from being used by everyone who could benefit from it. And withholding it from sick children would make these criminals almost inhuman in my opinion.

    • I wish I hadn’t waited to age 42 to move to WA. I love it here, and each year, it gets better. The pot laws will get better, if we keep on top of the legislators and vote out the ones who still are still uninformed and unaware. The current kerfuffle over the medibles will work itself out, but only if we stay aware. I’m not wanting to smoke or vape forever, and I love the caramels I get. But, I don’t leave them where my mom can find them. lol I don’t need any special packaging. I’ll be making my own, not buying commercial, thanks. When they straighten out the mess over this, maybe I’ll be a ‘baker’ again.

  6. I’m 66 and cannabis oil cured my pancreatic cancer by completely obliterating the tumor in 4.5 months. It has disappeared. No chemo, no radiation, no bogus drugs. There are thousands of warriors like me who beat their cancers with cannabis oil in the nation and in the world. I say warrior because it takes some bravery to leave conventional medicine for an anecdotal cure. Yet it works. Nothing magic. Based on pure science that THC and the body’s own endocannabinoids kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. I’m coming up to 49 years using cannabis daily. I’ve got a thousand so called “joint years” under my belt. Cannabis only enhanced my life previously. This time it literally saved my life with no chemo. Chemo equals death. Cannabis equals life and a future restored.
    Food, fuel, fiber and medicine. There is no other plant or substance more useful to mankind than this god given plant.

    • Thanks for this. I’ve lived through pancreatitis. Childbirth was a picnic compared to that pain. Wish I had had a dealer then. I ended up there from using ibuprofen while I had walking pneumonia. Almost died. OTC ibuprofen. I have a bag of drugs that gave me side effects. This, this is sweet relief. I’ll be using until I croak.

    • Charles N Sanders on

      My man…no truer words were ever spoken 71 years of life and 50 years of Cannabis consumption and feelin good!

  7. Indeed! It was fun when I was a hippie, a stress reliever when I was a yuppie, and now, it’s a gift from evolution. As we’re getting weaker, pot is getting better. High CBD pot helps with all those aches and pains, and the THC brings be back to a youthful appreciation for the little things that got lost in the grief of living and losing. Life is not for the weak of heart! Stay uplifted, fellow Boomers!

    Change is coming with our help. The majority of the people who had pot demonized by the Anslinger/Hoover propaganda are dying off, but still vote. My parents are in their 90s, and still vote against any ‘liberal’ ideas. I know neither of them ‘indulged in sin’ in this way. lol I went to college in 1968, and life changed. We grew up with JFK and dreams. Now, we have nightmares.

    If you missed it in the early days, you can be assured that pot will help you, too. Life can be less grueling. Take a breath, take a toke, and smile.

  8. Been toking for over 45+ years (except for a ten year gap when I lived in Singapore — talk about a place with ridiculous laws!)

    I agree with most of your article, Keith, which was very well written. I have said for decades that I toke for wellness, mind and body, although that used to get me some odd looks. Never saw it as a medical thing or even a drug, but just an interesting herb that helped me keep everything in balance. But raising my kids while living through Reagan, DARE and Just Say No was bizarre. It was like they were talking about a completely different plant than the one I’d been toking since the late 60’s.

    I’ll add one thing — when I’m stoned I feel like I’m back in the early 70’s. Fountain of youth. Senses enhanced, taste, smell and especially music and art. Makes me optimistic and upbeat, and interested in trying new things (brain plasticity and a life-long sense of wonder is a critical survival skill in my book).

    And the outdoors… oh Lordy, the outdoors. Spent most of the 70’s climbing and backpacking in Colorado with my Labrador dog, toking up on every summit (or any other place with a view worth celebrating). Now at age 67, when I take my three Labs for a hike (pretty much daily now days) and toke up as we walk, I swear it’s 1973 again.

    Legalization here in WA has been nice when it comes to strain selection, but otherwise not much different for me. Weed’s always been available, and I never worried much about the illegality of it. Discretion has always been my way of life, then and now. I never looked or acted like a stoner. I figured, then and now, that the woods and my house are my smoke places. Well, except for concerts. I don’t live in cities and I’m not a Bill Maher.

    One last point to add… enjoying weed is a practiced, learned thing. It takes some time to develop the appreciation and experience to really enjoy it. So I don’t encourage seniors to partake unless they used to toke years before, and then go really slow and let your mind and body remember the wonder. Most people who have lived uptight, judgmental and straight lives seem to lack the ability to give their minds a little longer leash to run with, and enjoy it.

    I feel sorry for them… I simply can’t imagine getting old without good weed to keep me young with my toes tapping.

    • Rev. Russ Jones on

      One of my favorite stories is about Merlin the wizard aging backwards, and with cannabis and hemp, that is not impossible. What seems to be impossible is turning on people who have believed the lies about both, and think it somehow virtuous to live without them. Here I am, at age 74, having toked for over fifty years, and been self-medicating for my bipolar condition since March, 2017 – and not only have I gotten through an incredibly stressful summer of fighting foreclosure, but my last checkup with my cardiologist showed remarkable health improvements all through my body! But just try passing this good news on to people who’ve swallowed the government lies – just try!

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