Happy 4/20 day. It’s a national holiday for many Americans to celebrate a drug that is quickly shifting away from stereotypical perceptions (insert Cheech and Chong joke) and becoming part of a multi-generational culture of acceptance.
A survey, conducted by Pew Research Center between April 5-11, 2021, reveals an overwhelming share of U.S. adults (91 percent) say either that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use (60 percent) or that it should be legal for medical use only (31 percent).
Those “marijuana is bad” connotations keep crumbling down, as adult recreational marijuana use is now legal in 16 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories. And Virginia will become the 17th state to legalize recreational use by the summer of 2021.
Those numbers spike considerably when medical cannabis comes into play. Medical marijuana use is legal in 36 U.S. states (including Florida) plus D.C. and four U.S. territories.
And not so surprisingly, the numbers of Americans age 65 or older who smoke marijuana or use edibles has increased two-fold between 2015 and 2018, according to research published in February of 2020 in JAMA.
It’s easy to connect the dots. Older adults are turning to medical marijuana to treat a number of long-term health conditions and symptoms, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease and eating disorders.
“Cannabis use was very stigmatized in the past but now we have all these new laws passing about medical use of cannabis, so people are curious to see if it is something that can be used to treat their chronic disease,” said Benjamin Han, co-author of the research.
That type of research, although increasing, is still limited, but according to webmd.com, the benefits of using cannabinoids include:
● Reducing inflammation and relieving pain
●Controlling nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy
● Slowing tumor/cancer cells growth
● Relaxing tight muscles in people with MS
● Stimulating appetite and improving weight gain in people with cancer and AIDS
Testimonials run deep.
California septuagenarian Carol Collin began eating a marijuana “gummy” each night before bed to help with sleep.
“I am an absolute chronic insomniac,” she told CNN.com.” I have been ever since I was a little tiny child — it just drives me crazy,” Collin said. “I take this little cube and it just makes me drowsy so I can sleep and doesn’t leave me groggy in the morning.”
The 4/20 holiday was reportedly spawned by a group of high school students in the 1970s who ritualistically smoked marijuana every day at 4:20 p.m.
A bit of perspective on 4/20 day is now necessary. It is no longer a flip of a bird from the counter-culture community to those who prefer the straight and narrow. It’s a movement of acceptance and understanding from multiple generations embracing its medicinal values.