Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Sunday, September 23, 2018

California's Senior Citizens Ride the Canna-Bus

AaaMarijuana is not just popular for the "young people" anymore.  In Orange County, California, the Bud & Bloom dispensary in Santa Ana has partnered with a bus company to allow senior citizens easier access to dispensaries, according to an article by Stephanie O'Neill for NPR's Morning Edition. The bus drives the patrons thirty minutes from the Laguna Woods Village retirement community to the nearest Bud and Bloom location.  

Though the idea of reliving Woodstock in retirement communities may be an entertaining one, the article notes that many senior citizens are visiting the dispensary to learn about the pain relieving properties of marijuana and "fear of getting high is the biggest concern expressed by senior consumers . . . What they don't realize is there's so many different ways to medicate now that you don't have to actually get high to relieve all your aches and pains."

Bud and Bloom tries to bridge the education gap by providing food and drinks to the elderly customers as the dispensaries' community outreach advisor gives a presentation on the "potential benefits of cannabis as a reliever of anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain and the various ways people can consume it. . . Then, the seniors are invited into the dispensary where they're able to buy."

The "Canna-bus" may be a response to a growing problem Caitlin Morgan Insurance recognized June of last year regarding nursing home and retirement community liability for marijuana. The article notes, 

Marijuana . . .  is banned by federal law even while legally approved for medical use in 29 states . . . This presents senior living facilities with the need to address what some call the elephant in the room: safety and accessibility. Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, older people who stand to benefit often cannot get it. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not openly sanction its use, and many physicians are reluctant to endorse pot use, saying not enough is known about the risks in the oldest age groups.

Though research on how marijuana effects specific age groups is still scarce, "Some assisted living facilities have developed formal medical marijuana policies in response to demands from their residents. The Washington Health Care Association, an industry group, has posted a sample medical marijuana policy on its website, for example."

The article notes that "This is an issue that all facilities should weigh carefully, including any liability they may have as a result of marijuana use by their patients or residents." 

--Kylee Debler

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This is a very interesting read; I think it is important for people to begin to understand that there are many uses for marijuana outside of "getting high". So much of the stigma that prevents people from being more open to medical marijuana seems to come from the stereotype of the "stoner" who is simply using the drug for its intoxicating effects, and a fear of becoming that themselves.

Posted by: John Robinson | Sep 23, 2018 1:57:15 PM

I think education is an important, and largely overlooked, aspect of the cannabis industry. As your post points out, there are people concerned about the stigma associated with cannabis use. I think as a society we are striving towards breaking this stigma, and clarifying to people that cannabis has the potential to serve as a positive impact beyond "getting high". Again, as your post points out the elderly are a particular demographic who could greatly benefit from proper education on cannabis use.

Posted by: Gabrielle Rennie | Sep 23, 2018 4:14:47 PM

Interesting post. I found an article on ( that describes the chemical properties of medical marijuana, how it is ingested or applied, and a list of potential benefits senior citizens may receive as an alternative treatment for pain, Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, cancer treatment symptoms, glaucoma, and more. Aging supports your article's claim that use by senior citizens has increased; one study showed a 250% increase in 2013 from 2006. It will be interesting to see if use by elderly individuals continues to rise as more states legalize adult use as the stigma attached to marijuana use will continue to decrease and access to marijuana will become easier as a doctor recommendation would not be required.

Posted by: Ashley Goldman | Sep 25, 2018 7:39:53 AM

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