Marijuana and Seniors: America's Underserved Could Benefit Most

Harborside Health Center Creates First Senior Outreach Program in the U.S.


OAKLAND, Calif., May 12, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Despite increasing public national support, marijuana legalization faces its most reluctant advocates in people over the age of 65. And yet, seniors are the demographic that could stand to benefit the most. In the AlterNet article, Marijuana May Heal Health Problems That Come With Old Age: How Can People Living in Senior Homes Get It? posted on May 2, April M. Short reports how Sue Taylor, a retired Catholic school principal and grandmother in Oakland, Calif., began working five years ago with the state's model nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary, Harborside Health Center, to start the first senior outreach program of its kind in the country.

In 2009, Harborside's co-founder and executive director, Steve DeAngelo, recognized that senior citizens are among America's most medically underserved and could benefit greatly from cannabis use. The majority of seniors, he noted, were forced to deal with a wide range of prescribed pharmaceuticals—many of which were ineffective or came with severe side effects. Steve knew that medical cannabis—especially topicals and other non-smokable products rich in CBD and low in the psychoactive component, THC—could help the nation's aging population live more healthfully and improve their quality of life. But decades of marijuana prohibition and "Reefer Madness" propaganda meant that seniors were unlikely to consider trying cannabis at all.
To help eliminate the stigma of medical cannabis with the area's elderly, Steve enlisted the help of Sue Taylor, who sits on the Commission on Aging in Alameda County. Long before Sue learned of the healing properties of cannabis, she had dedicated herself to an alternative, holistic approach to senior health care.
"The more and more I learned, this is what I found out: The seniors are in such bad health; they're kind of miserable," she said (in the May 2 AlterNet article). "When they develop medical problems they are prescribed all these pharmaceuticals, which really knock them out, and they are left to die. And so number one my job and my compassion is to help them realize who they really are, and that it doesn't have to be that way."
As part of her duties, Sue leads tours of Harborside's facilities to show seniors that medical marijuana dispensaries can be safe and welcoming, and offer an affordable alternative to prescription drugs. One of Sue's tours is documented in a ReasonTV video posted earlier this year.
In addition to its senior outreach program, Harborside also offers a free monthly medical cannabis support group for seniors.
About Harborside Health Center:

Founded by national cannabis leader, Steve DeAngelo, in 2006, Harborside Health Center is the nation's largest, not-for-profit, model medical cannabis dispensary. The San Jose and Oakland medicinal cannabis collective offers its 130,000 registered patients free holistic healing services, lab-tested medicine and education. Harborside was featured on the Discovery Channel miniseries, "Weed Wars," in December 2011, on the premiere episode of CNN's "Inside Man," hosted by Morgan Spurlock in June 2013, and in Fortune Magazine's cover story, "Yes We Cannabis," in April 2013. DeAngelo also co-founded the nation's first cannabis-testing facility, Steep Hill Labs, and the country's first cannabis investment firm, The Arc View Investment Group.
"Out of the shadows and into the light" epitomizes DeAngelo's mission to enlighten the public on the many medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant and actively works to empower the country to change its image of medical marijuana.