Boomers See Views Relaxing on Marijuana
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Boomers See Views Relaxing on Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on November 15, 2009 at 19:23:01 PT
By Steve Hendrix, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post
Washington, D.C. -- Smoking pot isn't what it used to be for Joe Lee, a 62-year-old vintage-record dealer in Rockville. Back in the late 1960s, as an art student in Baltimore, he kept his landlord in a constant state of suspicion, with clouds of marijuana smoke poorly masked by clouds of incense.These days, after four decades of regular use, cannabis is a smaller deal. Lee takes a few hits every other day or so, when he wants to listen to music or laugh with a few friends on the porch. And he's happy to talk about it.
"There's gotten to be greater tolerance, that's for sure," said Lee, the son of one-time Maryland governor Blair Lee. "I know literally hundreds of people my age who smoke. They are upright citizens, good parents who are holding down jobs. You take two or three puffs, and you're good to go. I'm not a Rastafarian; I don't treat this as some holy sacrament. But pot is fun."A federal survey of Americans' drug use shows that Lee and his friends are not the only baby boomers approaching the age of retirement much as they departed the Age of Aquarius -- with an occasional case of the munchies. The government's most recent survey showed that the share of marijuana users ages 50 to 59 increased from 5.1 percent in 2002 to almost 10 percent in 2007.Some of those users are empty-nesters, returning to the drug decades after their pot habits gave way to raising children and building careers. Others, like Lee, have kept using pot all along, researchers said."We're concerned by the public health impact of this," said Peter Delany, who heads the office in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that conducts the survey. Marijuana could present special problems for older users, he said, including unknown interactions with prescription drugs. "Doctors need to be more sensitive to it," he said. "They may ask older patients about alcohol now but not think to ask about illicit drug use."But some older marijuana users say they are living evidence that smoking pot does not preclude a normal life, and more older smokers seem more comfortable than at any point since their teen years with going public -- a tribute, they say, to a big boost in public tolerance of marijuana use. Mainstreaming Marijuana   In parts of California, licensed medical marijuana dispensaries have become as common as In-N-Out Burger stands. At least 13 other states allow some form of pot use for medicinal purposes, and the Obama administration announced last month that federal prosecutors would no longer go after medical users in those states, a policy shift that activists hailed as a watershed.Last week, in a reversal, the American Medical Association called for a review of marijuana's status as a Schedule 1 hard drug alongside LSD and PCP and for more study of its medicinal potential.In May, California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said it was "time for a debate" on the merits of legalizing and taxing the drug. Nationally, support for legalization has jumped to its highest level in 40 years, up in a Gallup poll from 31 percent in 2000 to 44 percent last month.In much of American pop culture, the taboo against smoking pot lies largely in ashes -- in ubiquitous references in hip-hop music and in TV programs such as Showtime's "Weeds." Even iconic potheads Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are in vogue again, back on the road with their 22-city "Light Up America" comedy tour.All of which adds up to what some commentators see as marijuana's steady march into the mainstream. Conservative pundit George Will recently declared the drug "essentially legalized" in California and predicted that the rest of the nation would follow suit.That shift in atmosphere has encouraged more older users to take their pot habits public."I don't think more people in their 50s are smoking marijuana. I think we are just more comfortable talking about it," said Rick Steves, who writes travel guidebooks and hosts a public TV series on travel. At 54, the clean-cut guru of mass-market European tourism has begun to present himself as the hard-working, successful face of the longtime smoker."Even my pastor knows I smoke pot," said Steves, who was recently named Lutheran activist of the year for his work on international poverty relief."It's just not that big a deal any more. It's another recreational drug, like alcohol."For Steves, the starkest sign of pot's growing acceptance is the annual Hempfest, which draws tens of thousands of marijuana enthusiasts each summer to a park in his home town of Seattle. But he said he has detected a change in more straitlaced cities, including the District, which he visited last week to see his daughter at Georgetown University."When I stepped out of my daughter's apartment, a couple of guys were passing a bong on the front stoop," Steves said. "They weren't self-conscious at all."Although young users generally go to some lengths to keep their pot use under wraps, those of a certain age -- especially those not in danger of being kicked out of school or subjected to workplace drug tests -- seem more likely to talk about their usage."It seems the stereotype of the marijuana user as a goofy teenage boy has begun to change," said Shelby Sadler, 48, a freelance editor from Rockville. She described a wide circle of professional friends in the Washington area, many of them women, who use the drug socially. "They are less inclined to hide it now. The kids are gone, and they no longer have to worry about losing their jobs because they're the ones doing the hiring."Sadler, who was journalist Hunter S. Thompson's longtime editor and works on books with historian Douglas Brinkley, said she smokes a few times a month, usually with friends. The only difference now, compared with when she started at Cornell University, is the clothing."Then, it was Crazy Horse crewneck sweaters and oxford shirts," said Sadler, who is editing a history of pot by Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Now I dress like Hillary Clinton." Police, Others Disagree  Drug counselors bemoan the softening views on marijuana, saying that it complicates their efforts to steer addicts away from illicit substances."It's more of a struggle for us when the parents just see heroin or cocaine as the dangerous drugs and sort of turn their heads with marijuana," said Carol Porto, who runs an inpatient drug treatment center in Calvert County.Most Washington area police departments enforce the laws that make marijuana illegal, officials said. A Montgomery County police spokesman would not comment other than to say that department has seen no spike in marijuana use by older residents and is not targeting those users.One older smoker who doesn't mind outing herself is Florence Siegel, an 88-year-old artist from New York who has been smoking regularly since her early 50s. That's when the family's pediatrician suggested they try marijuana together to see "what the kids were so excited about." The pediatrician didn't feel a thing. Siegel said she never stopped.Now her routine is to sit in her favorite chair each evening, listen to Bach and take a few hits from one of her many pipes. Marijuana boosts her creativity and helps with joint pain that has come with aging, she said.Siegel smokes occasionally with her daughter Loren Siegel, 64, a recently retired lawyer. But does her 93-year-old husband ever join her?"Oh, no," she said. "Well, only very rarely."Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Steve Hendrix, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Monday, November 16, 2009Copyright: 2009 Washington Post Contact: letters Website: URL: -- Cannabis Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #19 posted by FoM on November 17, 2009 at 10:19:03 PT
Thanks. That is interesting to know.
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on November 17, 2009 at 09:41:48 PT
Kind of interesting,
that when I Googled The Hippies Were Right All Along -- We Knew That , that Cannabis News came up second, right behind the original San Francisco Gate article.I guess ten thousand hits would do that.Ten thousand hits on an archived 2007 article, in a few days?Somebody's been busy.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on November 17, 2009 at 09:41:01 PT
It was the best thread we have ever had on CNews. 
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on November 17, 2009 at 09:24:38 PT
There's something so compelling
about that article and that thread of comments.I've been reading it. I'll probably be compelled to keep reading it off and on today. It's a long thread.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on November 17, 2009 at 09:14:23 PT
I haven't done an article twice you're right except in the very early years or by mistake but not like this article for sure.
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on November 17, 2009 at 08:57:04 PT
FoM Comment 12
That's very interesting.Suddenly, ten thousand hits on an archived article. Very interesting.If I remember correctly there were so many comments on that article that you posted it twice even, to make it available longer for the conversations going on there, something I don't think you've ever done on any other article.Very interesting.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on November 17, 2009 at 08:52:40 PT
I understand. I do.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on November 17, 2009 at 06:52:43 PT
Just a Comment
I was wondering why this article in my stats has over 10,000 hits so far this month and then it dawned on me. Research must have been going on for this WP article. It makes sense to me.The Hippies Were Right All Along -- We Knew That
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Comment #11 posted by GeoChemist on November 17, 2009 at 03:28:46 PT
Thank you for the kind words. As far as my use of the word moron; I have very little patience for ignorance and have no interest in "being nice" to any prohib. 
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on November 16, 2009 at 13:18:27 PT
I very much enjoy your comments. You are obviously very smart and you're able to explain things in a way that someone not so well studied as yourself might understand.I've learned some stuff from you.:0)
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on November 16, 2009 at 13:12:34 PT
Of course
We all know it means moron... but instead of grimacing, some more... maroon makes you smile. Bugs Bunny. It made those set against us seem a bit more like Yosemite Sam, too, than what they really are. You don't have to lose sight of the reality of it to be be able to enjoy a little comic relief.We're here because we've been hurt by the drug war, either directly or indirectly or are aghast at it, in some way or another.We've learned over a lengthy time span of sharing our thoughts on this heinous situation with each other. We've learned about trying not to lose it over it all, and sometimes, helping our brothers and sisters not to lose it, and tried to learn that when we can keep from it, there really is no reason to make ourselves feel even worse about it all than we already do, unless it's very important. Like discussing and worrying over bad news. Dealing with it. The news and sometimes, our lives, too. But the heathen avenger... we don't need to be that, ever. That's like them... that's like the prohibitionists. I don't want to be the punisher, the heathen avenger, anyway, and I'd hate to see my friends, even want to be that, either. They are the insane avenger that we've been abused by for all these years. But, it's hard some times. It has been an outrage. I know it has and it still is. People have died, been gravely wounded, and imprisoned over it, and it may be harder for most men to not delve into hatred, even, than it is for most women. Most men I think, get to wanting to hit someone sooner than most women.Forgiveness is often a great effort. I don't know if either gender is any better at it than the other.I'm trying to remember, but I think it might have been you, Runruff, that started using that term "Marroon", here first. I'm not sure. I know it was a man. I think. We latched onto it, though, whoever said it. It could be a good steam vent when we needed one really badly.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on November 16, 2009 at 12:42:19 PT
I'm glad to hear you say that. As always, we must fight the "Dark side". We must be careful to not "become like those we have despised".
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Comment #7 posted by runruff on November 16, 2009 at 12:28:50 PT
I rarely correct anyone but.....
I think the proper word here at C/news is maroon?I reference the "Loony Tune" archive of appropriate word misusage.In order to comment on these maroons we must draw from appropriate sources! 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 16, 2009 at 04:35:51 PT
Wanted: Dead Heads and Pot Heads
November 16, 2009URL:
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Comment #5 posted by GeoChemist on November 16, 2009 at 03:43:16 PT
This guy's a moron
"Marijuana could present special problems for older users, he said, including unknown interactions with prescription drugs." The common denominator for drug interactions is........water. Water dissolves/dissociates the "drug" in complexes, these complexes can and do bind with other complexes and can form complexes that have dire consequences, hence drug interactions. All pharmaceuticals are water soluble, cannabis is NOT water soluble, hence NO INTERACTION WITH ANY DRUG. 
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Comment #4 posted by Universer on November 15, 2009 at 23:25:55 PT
All Good
Social normalcy is being achieved, surely but slowly. We just need to keep it up. Keep fighting the good fight, telling it like it is, equating it with alcohol (though we all know cannabis is truly safer and less addictive than booze).There can be no coasting. The fightback by the prohibbies will become more virulent, more asinine, more desperately illogical.We are not in a vacuum in which the sheer inertial momentum of the aforementioned social acceptance will carry through to a predetermined conclusion. Nothing is predetermined. We have to keep it up.We have to keep going -- especially when things are going well.
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Comment #3 posted by EAH on November 15, 2009 at 20:27:12 PT:
Get over it
"It's more of a struggle for us when the parents just see heroin or cocaine as the dangerous drugs..."
Carol PortoToo bad! Could it be that the parents know something you don't? Like the totally arbitrary line between legal and illegal drugs? 
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on November 15, 2009 at 20:27:11 PT
The anti-prohibition machine is rolling 
and shifting gears. Big time.Finally.I'm so thankful.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 15, 2009 at 19:24:12 PT
Yes We Do See The Change Happening
Our day has finally come close to arriving.
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