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This retirement community is teaching seniors how to use marijuana


Not all senior citizens smoke as much weed as Leland Rucker.

"I started out with just rolling papers and a roach clip. That was about all you need back in the 70s, " said Rucker.

But in 2018, the ways Rucker can choose to consume marijuana are vast (and legal, in his home state of Colorado).

"I use a vaporizer. I still smoke flower. I use concentrates. I've just started to use dabs. I've used sublinguals. I've used topicals. I've eaten edibles," explains Rucker. "There's so many ways to do it. And that's one of the great things about it right now is that people, for instance, who are older who don't want to smoke things, you don't have to do that anymore."

Marijuana User Poll and Trivia Quiz

Rucker is an editor at Sensi Magazine, which covers cannabis in several cities where recreational marijuana use is legal, including Denver and Boulder. Some might describe him as a weed enthusiast.

Marijuana use is increasing drastically among Rucker's peers. The Centers For Disease Control found that between 2002 and 2014, marijuana use among adults over 65 increased by 333%. In Colorado, one in five marijuana card-holders are senior citizens. For someone like Rucker, marijuana use, with nearly a lifetime experience, might feel like second nature. But for the newly-converted senior, exactly how to consume marijuana might not be so straight-forward.

Balfour Senior Living in Louisville, Colorado, which is located between Denver and Boulder, decided to help teach interested residents about what marijuana can be used for medically, and how they can consume it. They brought in Dr. Joseph Cohen from Holos Health to teach a "Cannabis 101" seminar, in partnership with Stratos, who produces cannabis tablets, which can feel more natural to use for some seniors because they are already used to taking prescription pills.

"When you look at the audience, you can see the response. They're glued to everything I'm saying," said Cohen. "We talk about neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, arthritis or degenerative disease, or age-related pain issues that people have. Then we talk about all the different ways that you can deliver cannabis to seniors, who very often are not interested in getting high."

Chuck Schuringa, executive director of the residences at Balfour, says it's all about providing their seniors with information to make their own decisions.

"There's so many taboos associated with cannabis," said Schuringa. "Now, as more and more education comes out, people are going to be a little bit more open to using it. At least trying it."

There is no smoking (of any substance) allowed at Balfour Senior Living. So if the residents choose to consume marijuana, they will have to try a different method of consumption, like edibles, topicals or sublinguals. Or, take a walk.

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