Imagine the scene, comfortable and familiar — a group of friends gathered in a cozy apartment, tasty snacks spread about, in one room a turntable is spinning classic rock, from another room comes successive bursts of uproarious laughter from those watching a series of old Looney Tunes cartoons. Good times.
Between the noshing and jamming and laughing the friends are sharing stories of the last time they got high. Remember Cheech and Chong, fits of hysteria, getting the munchies? The difference this evening — aside from a half-a-century of time that’s passed — these good old times are fueled by Cannabis edibles — gummies, crackers, chocolates and brownies.
While marijuana’s medicinal benefits are gaining widespread acceptance, it is the herb’s custom of communal use that offers especially welcome relief as we grow older. The Reefer-Madness rejecting boomer generation who now uses medical marijuana therapeutically to control ailments, aches and pains also is rediscovering marijuana as a social activity.
Temporary relief may be the impetus, but the more sustainable result of social cannabis use may be participants’ renewed sense of belonging. This is critical, considering the growing body of research that identifies loneliness, isolation, even depression as fundamental concerns among older adults.
Seriously, this is a laughing matter. Socialization has healing powers. So too does laughter, observed Mel Brooks: “When you laugh, it’s an involuntary explosion of the lungs. The lungs need to replenish themselves with oxygen. So you laugh, you breathe, the blood runs, and everything is circulating. If you don’t laugh, you’ll die.”
A good laugh won’t cure aging, but it definitely smooths some of the rough edges. Cheerful get-togethers are the sort of panacea we all can use. The reality, for far too many older adults, is that lack of socialization leads to despair and depression. Moreover, a negative perception of aging, research shows, literally shorten lives.
THE BUZZ IS REAL
“Medical marijuana is only going to become more important in our lives as we grow older,” wrote editor-in-chief Craig Tomashoff in the 2019 edition of The Complete Guide to Medical Marijuana. Whether optimistic or prophetic, the buzz is real and when administered via a social activity it can be lifesaving and life-extending experience.
Enter commerce and the normalizing of marijuana use. While the social benefits of marijuana may be an unintended consequence, various cannabis retailers are intentionally marketing the curative effects of the drug to older adults and specifically within retirement communities. The huge national MedMen chain is targeting boomer-rich Florida markets. Other retailers are hosting workshops and in-home visits across California, the state ranked the most business-friendly in the nation, according to a recent analysis.
Don’t be surprised if the next, best cannabis marketing slogan is “Laughter is the best medicine. (Edible, take with a dose of Looney Tunes for old-times’ sake.)”