Stephanie O’Neill for NPR – Shirley Avedon, 90, had never been a cannabis user.
But carpal tunnel syndrome that sends shooting pains into both of her hands and an aversion to conventional steroid and surgical treatments is prompting her to consider some new options.
“It’s very painful, sometimes I can’t even open my hand,” Avedon says.
So for the second time in two months, she’s climbed on board a bus that provides seniors in Orange County, Calif., with a free shuttle to a local marijuana dispensary.
The retired manager of an oncology office says she’s seeking the same relief she saw cancer patients get from smoking marijuana 25 years ago.
“At that time (marijuana) wasn’t legal, so they used to get it off their children,” she says with a laugh. “It was fantastic what it did for them.”
Avedon, who doesn’t want to get high from anything she uses, picked up a topical cream on her first trip that was sold as a pain reliever.
It contained cannabidiol or CBD, but was formulated without THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient.
“It helped a little,” she says. “Now I’m going back for the second time hoping they have something better.”
As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use — 30 states plus the District of Columbia to date — the cannabis industry is booming.
Among the fastest growing group of users: people over 50, with especially steep increases among those 65 and older.
And some dispensaries are tailoring their pitches to seniors like Avedon who are seeking alternatives treatments for their aches, pains and other medical conditions.
On this particular morning, about 35 seniors climb on board the free shuttle.
After about a half-hour drive, the large white bus pulls up to the parking lot of the dispensary. Read more at NPR.