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Medical Marijuana Use Spreads to Assisted Living Homes

Amid widespread painkiller addictions, pot is emerging as a welcome option

Medical Marijuana Use Spreads to Assisted Living Homes

Oleg Zharsky/Stocksy

Several recent studies have found a surge of marijuana use among older Americans.

At retirement communities and nursing homes in some parts of the nation, older Americans increasingly are turning to marijuana as an alternative to addictive painkilling drugs, the New York Times reported.

Smoking or ingesting pot is one way some patients are responding to the hazards of addictive drugs such as morphine and other opioids, which have raised health alarms across the country.

“I would be in a lot worse shape if I wasn’t using cannabis — both physically and mentally,” Anita Mataraso, 72, told the Times. Mataraso, who uses marijuana daily to curb the pain from arthritis and other ailments, is the program director of a medical marijuana club of 530 residents at a retirement community near San Francisco.

Several recent studies have found a surge of marijuana use among older Americans, some who are carrying on a habit from their youth and others who have just recently found pot to be useful in treating illnesses or easing pain.

In Washington state, at least a dozen assisted living facilities have adopted medical marijuana policies, Robin Dale, executive director of the Washington Health Care Association, told the Times.

And a nursing home in New York has begun a program that allows residents to buy marijuana from a dispensary as an alternative to prescription drugs. “I don’t feel high or stoned,” Ruth Blum, 98, a program participant who takes pills filled with cannabis oil, told the Times. “All I know is I feel better when I take this.”

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