Grandmas and Weed: An unlikely conversation with the fastest growing demographic of cannabis users
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do something I never really thought I would, something I never really thought about period.
Something perhaps only doctors and research conductors get to do – I sat down for a chat with my beloved grandmother and her two sisters about pot. (Of course I took the time to bring them up to speed and that the correct word to use today when referring to this plant is “cannabis”, as marijuana was a term created just before they were born to build fear and stigma around the plant…they were not aware of this.) While none of them have extensive personal experience with cannabis, it was very insightful to get an older generations perspective on cannabis in the 21st century. Oh, and at one point during the interview my 91 year old great aunt revealed to us that the one time she smoked a joint she did notice a boost in her sex life…yea, the conversation got interesting.
To give a brief background on my interviewees, my grandma Myra and her twin sister Mary (both 84) and their older sister Nancy (89) all grew up in Sacramento, California. Currently, Myra lives in Denver and has for the past 10 years, and her sisters both live near Sacramento. All are in excellent health (which they attribute to good genes, so shout out to them for passing those down!) and are the sweetest and most enjoyable bunch to chat with. None of them hesitated at all when I presented the idea for this interview, in fact they were very interested and asked a lot of questions about cannabis. I think we all learned a lot! Here it is….
- What is your first memory / experience with cannabis? Do you remember your first time hearing about it?
Myra: Growing up no one had it or smoked it in school, bad kids were doing it if anyone was doing it. I remember I was running by the pier in Ventura and a kid asked if I wanted to smoke a joint (I said no, well, actually I said “If you can catch me!”) It wasn’t really around that much. Once my kids got older we started hearing about it. I always thought it would lead to harder drugs.
Mary: I remember the dentist’s wife made brownies with pot and it was the talk of the town, it was first time I knew anyone that had anything to do with it. I thought it was sort of a dumb thing for people that weren’t that smart, didn’t want to face reality. My husband tried it on a fishing trip, outside a bar, that was the only time I knew someone who did it. A lot of our generation was just curious [but never tried it…that I knew of].
Myra: Where did he get it???
Mary: I have no idea…
Nancy: In college people were using it, I never did. When I was 40 someone gave me 3 joints and I smoked them but I don’t think I inhaled and got it down deep enough and nothing really happened. I didn’t think chocolate tasted any better, I couldn’t smell better. But then I went to bed and the sex was better.
- What was the attitude and viewpoint of your friends and community at that time?
Myra: I had a negative view point, I wouldn’t want my kids to do it. I was never aware if they tried it but wouldn’t have approved. I didn’t have any adult friends that used it so mostly I was out of the loop.
Mary: It was illegal and you shouldn’t be doing it. When I moved to Placerville I remember hearing about people having parties, educated people, they were having pot as part of the parties… but I was never invited to those parties. I think a lot more people did it that we really realized because no one liked to talk about it.
Nancy: No one was interested, no one talked about. The friends of mine that did it bragged about it because it was illegal and they thought they were so smart for doing it.
3. Have you ever experimented with cannabis?
Nancy: A friend gave me 3 joints as a birthday present when I was in Lake Tahoe and I tried it but didn’t really want to again.
4. Has your view / attitude about cannabis shifted at all in the last 5-10 years?
Myra: For medical use its fine. And if someone wants to get high and they’re not hurting anyone, it’s fine. It’s just like alcohol, if someone feels like drinking [its fine] as long as they’re not abusing it.
Mary: I always thought it was dumb that it was controlled and illegal – I felt that if you could grow it in your backyard then why should it be controlled? It seemed dumb because how can you control something that the whole population can grow in their backyard. And for medical if it’s going to help people I think they should have it. The problem is that its illegal – people get (doctor recommendations) for the wrong reasons and take advantage of the medical side.
Nancy: Never really cared, doesn’t really affect me, haven’t really thought about it.
5. Have you thought about / been motivated to use cannabis in the last few years?
Myra: No. Well…maybe a teeny bit, if I have aches and pains, if I had a problem that I thought it would help it would motivate me to try it.
Mary: same, maybe for aches and pains.
Nancy: I don’t take any medication, no pills, I don’t take aspirin, I’ve never really thought about trying it.
6. Where do you get most of your information about cannabis?
Myra: In the paper there is some stuff, I follow medicine box. (Yes!!)
Mary: Never paid that much attention, i read something in the paper about someone overdosing on brownies. (I made sure to clarify that no one can actually lethally overdose on cannabis.)
Nancy: The Sacramento Bee or Channel 3
7. Do you have any friends or know anyone in your life that uses cannabis?
Myra: No,well I guess just your Dad. (He is a huge fan of our truffles as a sleep aid!)
Mary: My neighbor is growing it for his own medical benefits and the doctor down the street. And you never know what the younger generation is up to.
8. If you were to try cannabis, what form would you be most likely to start with (edibles, vapor, joint, topical, tincture, etc.)
Myra: Depends on the ailment, probably [a topical] cream or edibles – seems easier. Smoking takes too much time and is too much like smoking cigarettes.
Mary: Smoking a joint seems like the easiest, and a topical for any back pain and inflammation. I also used to smoke cigarettes and I loved smoking.
Nancy: A brownie
9. How would you go about trying to obtain it?
Myra: I would have my granddaughter do it. If I were to go to a dispensary I would want someone to come with me.
Mary: I would call you and ask, I wouldn’t really know, I wouldn’t have any idea how to get it.
Nancy: I have no idea
10. Are you going to vote to legalize adult use (Prop 64) in California next month?
Mary: I haven’t really thought about it but I think I would be apt to legalize.
Nancy: I haven’t even thought about it, I haven’t even looked at my ballots.
11. Have you noticed any differences – good or bad – in Colorado since legalizing adult use in 2013?
Myra: No not really, articles say there aren’t negative changes maybe just more people coming to there area.
- How do you feel about the current state of Cannabis – the difference between State and Federal legalization?
Myra: I think it’s kinda bogus that it is still federally illegal, it’s stupid they don’t do anything about it.
Mary: I think it’s bogus, I’ve never read anything really bad about people overdoing it and getting in trouble, there’s no validation for why it is illegal. In fact, why is it still illegal?
Nancy: No opinion
Describe what the typical cannabis user is in your mind?
Myra: Ordinary adult people that want to try it because it’s available. My view has shifted from thinking it was the bad kids.
Mary: Some people take it because they like it and if they know what they’re doing and they don’t over use it and its fine.
Nancy: I have no idea, in my world no one uses it.
- Is there still a stigma among your peers (grandparents in cannabis-friendly states like CA and CO) about using cannabis?
Myra: No, I wouldn’t have any problem with it unless they were abusing it but that’s just like anything, like with alcohol. I would think my friends would be in the same mindset.
Nancy: I could care less if anyone I know uses [cannabis].
- Would you be comfortable discussing cannabis with your doctor or other healthcare providers?
Myra: Oh sure, I would.
Nancy: If my doctor prescribed it I would take it.
So there you have it. From a generation that grew up during heavy anti-marijuana propaganda, the creation of the DEA and the era of “Just Say No” these three ladies can’t seem to understand why our federal government maintains cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance (in their words, “its bogus!”). And while none of them have much first hand experience with the plant, it sounds like they would be very open to using it for medical purposes. And they just may have requested a Medicine Bar to be dropped off for them to try … to help them sleep of course.
With that, I encourage you, go out and have the “weed talk” with your parents and grandparents!!! Introduce them to the new generation of cannabis and where the future of this plant is going. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by what they have to say.