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Marijuana and the Elderly

Meet 81-year old Betty Hiatt. She smokes pot.

She is, at 81, both a medical train wreck and a miracle, surviving cancer, Crohn's disease and the onset of Parkinson's. Each morning Hiatt takes more than a dozen pills. But first.... Peering through owlish glasses, Hiatt fires up a cannabis cigarette with a wood-stem match. She inhales. The little apartment — a cozy place of knickknacks and needlepoint — takes on the odor of a rock concert.

"It's like any other medicine for me," Hiatt says, blowing out a cumulus of unmistakable fragrance. "But I don't know that I'd be alive without it."

The Supreme Court's decision on state medical marijuana laws is due any day. Raich v. Ashcroft will decide whether federal laws prohibiting all marijuana use can be used to charge those who take the drug for medical reasons in states with laws that allow such use.

No one knows exactly how many old folks use cannabis to address their ills, but activists and physicians say they probably number in the thousands. And unlike medical marijuana's younger and more militant true believers, the elderly are difficult for doubters to castigate as stoners. Their pains are unassailable. Their needs for relief are real. Most never touched pot before.

Now the drug is a blessing. Read the whole article, it does an excellent job of blending human stories with facts and figures.

There's something fundamentally wrong with a government that would deny pain relief to the elderly. Ashcroft is gone. Now the Supreme Court needs to rule that his policies are thrown out with him.

A complete guide to Raich v. Ashcroft is available at Drug War Rant. All of TalkLeft's coverage of the case is accessible here. In a nutshell, from the San Francisco Chronicle,

The question before the court is whether individual patients -- and, possibly, some of their suppliers -- are immune from federal enforcement. The argument goes like this: The Constitution authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce. But no interstate commerce is involved when patients, acting legally under state law, use marijuana that was grown within the state and supplied without charge.

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    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:29:55 PM EST
    Profits before people...it's the American Way.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#2)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:30:24 PM EST
    Who knew the greatest generation would turn out to be a bunch of dead-enders who fund Osama? Obviously, the solution is to start a new TV ad campaign about how marijuana is poison and millions are addicted to it and it kills thousands of people a year. We'll put it right between the ads for Bud Light, Coors Light, Bacardi O3, Bailey's Irish Cream, Smirnoff Triple Black, Jack Daniels...

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:58:14 PM EST
    Aren't they afraid she will move on to other, harder drugs? Something tells me that American grannies who have survived all the SH*T of eighty years of American history aren't going to be intimidated by Mr. Gonzales whatever the Court decides. "That pipsqueak? They say he's not afraid of a little torture -- just wait until he gets a taste of two hip replacements! Uncle Sam can kiss my stainless steel appointed arse."

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:33:07 AM EST
    For God's sake, "LET MY REEFER GO"!

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:27:56 AM EST
    Cruel and unusual prohibition. I can't help but wonder where granny gets her stuff, it must be hard to find connects in the senior community. Can you picture grandmothers across America driving to the ghetto to cop?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:36:52 AM EST
    LOL kdog... I knew it was widely available but... wow! I expect someone's copping to their granny - she picks up a QP a month or so. I hope when I'm old and don't have to work, or sick and disabled I'll be able to light one up legally! Won't you all help?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#7)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:32:02 AM EST
    Ernesto, You're right. But in this case the profits got to the bureaucrats in the DEA and the police chiefs with their cool shiny helicopters to ride around in (make cool helicopter noises here) and track us hardened criminals.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#8)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:33:03 AM EST
    Profits in this case being OUR WAGES!

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:38:33 AM EST
    Che...isn't that the ultimate insult. This poor lady probably paid taxes for over 50 yrs. to finance her own persecution.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:51:46 AM EST
    This medical marijuana crap has to be the biggest non-issue of all time. How many people die from alcohol abuse each year? From D.U.I. accidents? How many fetal alcohol kids running around out there? What bloody use is there for cigarettes except catching cancer on a sunny day? Marijuana, folks, has kept ME alive. I suffer from a severe Type-1 bi-polar disorder, and the only thing that kept me sane was booze and pot when I didn't know what was wrong. I just knew that before a splif, I wanted to crawl out of my skin, and my mind wouldn't stop racing. I smoke between three or four splifs a day, usually after work, before bed, and if I wake up at night and can't sleep 'cause my mind is running in the red... No ban on this earth, no priest's condemnation, no bloody say-gooder and do-worse conservative is going to tell me that medicating myself is evil. If Lithium worked, I'd go with that. It doesn't. What should I do, go quietly crazy and kill someone? Some would rather I do that than smoke a little weed...who's the kook?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:54:56 AM EST
    Hey kfox, easy on the ethnic/racial/class slur, whatever your comment was out of those three. Blaghdaddy's never had to go to the "ghetto" to cop...there are too many white college kids selling to raise tuition money to make something like that necessary. You also are aware that the overwhelming body of teen pot smokers are white, suburban middle-class kids, don't you? What's with the ghetto comment? Blaghdaddy ain't from the ghetto, but he doesn't think that crack is kosher. If you're kidding, no foul. But that kind of stuff, Blaghdaddy expects to hear from Rush Limbaugh...

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:19:43 AM EST
    Semi-kidding blagh. I didn't know ghetto was a ethnic/class/racial slur, I thought it was an urban, lower income neighborhood. I live in what is often described as a ghetto, I take no offense to the term. If you live in the ghetto and took offense, I apologize. I speak of personal experience, I am well aware marijuana use is prevalent in all walks of life. Especially with upper income kids with money to burn. I used to drive down to Bushwick Ave in E. New York to cop as a younger man. Stupid fat nickel bags, perfect for a low budget. The guy running the front used to joke with me..."What you doin' down in the ghetto white boy". I guess the term didn't offend him either. The point I was trying to make with my semi-joke was it must be very difficult for 81 year olds to find marijuana connections.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:26:38 AM EST
    Blaghdaddy isn't offended, he's copped everywhere you could imagine (including from a guy who lived in a retirement village, LOL), but people out there might not be as educated as you and Blaghdaddy and he just thought the joke cut a little too close to the stereotype not to make sure what you meant...no harm...no foul...still friends?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:36:20 AM EST
    No doubt blagh, I enjoy your take on things. I understand your point, the prohibitionist crowd could spin that the wrong way. You can say I'm far from politicall correct. As I got to thinking where this poor lady gets her meds, I couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of her making a Bushwick run. How sad if she was forced to do that, eh?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:42:46 AM EST
    LOL - kdog we've been melded into kfox!!
    Hey kfox, easy on the ethnic/racial/class slur
    And talk about racist assumptions... I'm very surprised that you're white! Mibad. (I do much better typing slang than saying it - I found that out during the week I tried to adopt aw-ight)(sp?) : )

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:45:23 AM EST
    It also does give new definition to Supplemental Social Security Income!

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:52:10 AM EST
    Is it 4:20 yet? Must be somewhere around the world... There's one reason weed is still illegal and we all know it...the alcohol lobby...legal grass would be a big, big, hit on alcohol...take it from an expert!!

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dadler on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:50:48 AM EST
    rude, power on, my friend! if only the pilgrims toked instead of guzzling their homebrew. any weed good enough for the great louis armstrong to rhapsodize about in song is good enough to deal with honestly in the supposedly free USofA.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:53:53 AM EST
    mfox...LOL..kfox would be the moniker of our love child:) More and more elderly people in the news fighting for their right to medicate themselves as they fit. I think it's great, putting a human face to the people harmed by the drug warriors insensitivity and cruelty. It's easy to demonize a hedonist like me, try demonizing little ol' grannies. How can any self repsecting human being be against letting this woman medicate? I hope more of my elderly breathren come forward and make their stories known.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 10:35:18 AM EST
    LOL - with our luck kdog we'd have some kinda neo-con child (remembering Michal J. Fox's yuppie character on ...what was that sitcom again??)

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:38:02 AM EST
    There have been numerous stories on this site referencing medical marijuana, the Raich v. Ashcroft case and the wonderful story about the granny in the U.K. baking all kinds of pot infused goodies. And the support from this site's readers (and in at least one instance TalkLeft itself) FOR allowing medical marijuana has been fairly consistent and positive. What I don't get, as far as the U.S. debate is concerned, is why the left seems to welcome this idea much quicker and easier than the "right" who consistently claim medical pot is a cruel hoax to legalize all drugs. I wonder about this because here in the States the debate is framed in terms of "state's rights" since it is the states who have allowed these laws while the fed. gov't is unbending in its adherence that pot has no accepted medical use. Has the "typical" left/right dichotomy as regards state's rights (that is, repubs are for limited gov't and more states rights, while the left is in favor of less) been thrown out the window? Anybody care to explain? It is my personal belief that republicans are no longer the party of individual or state's rights - (anytime those rights conflict with some religious or quasi-moral issue such as drug use, right to die, etc...). And if this is so, which the latest term and actions of the Repub controlled Congress seems to bear out - - then how can the left capitalize on this and take away the right's states rights supporters and bring them into the fold? Why arent more people calling the Right out on their refusal to stick to basic party principles?? WTF is going on in American politics where the libs are appealing for more state/individual rights and the repubs are dissing them? Did i get too high and miss something? ~peace~

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:20:10 PM EST
    My best guess is that both of the major parties throw their long standing ideals out the window when it suits their current agenda. Basically, the Republican and Democratic parties don't really stand for anything anymore.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:52:51 PM EST
    It is my personal belief that republicans are no longer the party of individual or state's rights . . . . They never really were; "states' rights," for the GOP (and the Dems, back before the South went Republican) was a pretext for racism, nothing more. But Bush v. Gore sucked off what shreds of credibility they had on this issue.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:07:20 PM EST
    Chi, it was the first great sellout of the conservatives of states rights, in my opinion it was used as a divide and conquer strategy but also because it violates our Puritanical/Protestent sub-culture of working hard being good and having fun being bad. I think that American business is anti drug because they perceive it to be a drain on productivity (as having fun, or a life is) and has convinced the govt. through lobbying that it is in our National Interest to reduce drug use. The funny thing is that usually in the U.S., as everywhere else, the rich and powerful indulge with impunity. As they have shown themselves able to contribute and party I guess they get a "get out of jail free" card. What pisses me off the most is how often informing and plea bargains are used, resulting (though I defer to defense lawyers - I'm not one)in the real M*F*ers getting off while their baby mamas, sisters and juvenile acquaintances end up doing 5-10. Bad, bad, bad.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#25)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:18:36 PM EST
    I found that out during the week I tried to adopt aw-ight
    C'mon white boy...it's spelled "aight". Damn, you should change your name to "Liberal Cracka" or some such thing. :P As for the "profits before people" comment...yes the Beer Institute probably applies their pressure on the hill against the weed, but I bet the omnipotent pharmaceutical empire is the main culprit here. If this plant is legalized (just take a step back and wonder how a PLANT could be made illegal by any rational government??????)then it would be FREE of charge for anyone with a window box/greenhouse/yard to produce the same medication that they could make a lot of money off of by synthesizing into pill or spray form. So your tax dollars get spent to keep you a slave to the profit motive of these (pardon the vernacular) "muff*ckas".

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:55:05 PM EST
    Ernesto, I'm a white gurl ..."aight"? Being able to spell it doesn't make me look or sound any less stupid saying it. At least I'm honest. Cracka??? That's pretty harsh. In my neck of the woods "dems" fighting words. If your going to "dawg" me, I'd prefer Stupid White B*tch or Honky Ho (nice ring to it). Are there any racial labels you prefer Ernesto or can I just call you "my nig"?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#27)
    by scarshapedstar on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:58:34 AM EST
    Can't we settle this over a joint?

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#28)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 05:31:36 AM EST
    LoL Pass it this way Scar... ; )

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:39:15 AM EST
    They are just words people...I'm from the Georga Carlin school...words are meaningless, it's the context.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:56:15 AM EST
    LOl - From New Jersy? What exit?? Anyone too young to remember George Carlin and Richard Pryor really missed something.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#31)
    by pigwiggle on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:34:51 AM EST
    "But I don't know that I'd be alive without it." I donít either. Without clinical trials Iíll take these stories with a grain of salt. Speaking of clinical trials, if MJ is going to be approved for prescription it will necessarily go through the same crap every other drug approved by the FDA does. So you get your prescription; in 5 to 10 years.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#32)
    by Johnny on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:21:09 AM EST
    This woman is a dangerous criminal, and needs to be apprehended. MJ is an illicit and dangerous drug. go grammaw go!

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 11:10:20 AM EST
    Come to think of it, you'd think the pharma industry would get behing medical mj. According to this woman, the only way she can get 12 pills a day down is by using mj. If she wasn't smoking, she couldn't take the expensive pills.

    Re: Marijuana and the Elderly (none / 0) (#34)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 11:54:47 AM EST
    Move overseas. I have no problems going to my street pharmacist (one of many) in the park across the street. Matter of fact, let me go...