Being a senior citizen brings rewards as well as challenges. Seniors qualify for discounts and numerous other privileges, for example. However, many are not able to enjoy these rewards fully because of illnesses. Heart disease, arthritis, cancer, respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, pneumonia, obesity and depression are among the many debilitating illnesses that can prevent one from enjoying a comfortable senior life. Heart ailments affect an estimated 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women from ages 60 to 65. Arthritis is an umbrella term for over 100 types of joint conditions that can be classified as degenerative (brought about by wear and tear of joints and ligaments), inflammatory (brought about by disease), infectious (brought about by bacteria or viruses) or metabolic (in which uric acid is a common culprit). Other ailments are results of the body’s immune system weakening as we age. When not properly cared for, depression can set in.

T’Oakland Senior Canna Club board member Melodye Montgomery knows very well the struggles of seniors. The group was founded by the members of the East Bay Senior Cannabis Club: Mike Grafton, Sharon Betrand, Devlin Francis, Theresa Farley and Melodye, East Bay’s Mama Bear herself. A first look will tell you that they are more of a family and not just a group of senior cannabis enthusiasts.

Melodye is the owner of TendaHead cannabis topicals and Learn What’s Right for You, where she provides cannabis consultancy. Since seniors are a rapidly growing demographic among cannabis users, she realized that there is a great need for them to understand proper use.

“We noticed the need for more cannabis education among seniors. Old-school smokers did not know the differences among Sativa, Indica or hybrids. They also needed to be educated about things like topical use and vaporizing. Opioid use is high among seniors who are dealing with pain, and that’s scary. My co-founders and I wanted to bring a less dangerous way of pain management to seniors as well as provide a community with people our own age. Senior citizens are often solitary in their cannabis use. We wanted to provide a place to feel safe with like-minded individuals.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 115 people in the United States die from opioid overdose every day. The most common causes are Fentanyl, heroin and prescription pain relievers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than $78 million in economic burden each year. This includes the costs of healthcare, productivity loss, addiction treatment and criminal activity.

Melodye believes that more attention should be given to senior communities, especially those that are less able to fend for themselves. Synthetic drugs can be fatal when used carelessly. For seniors, improper self-medication for even a minor ache can lead to a domino effect of damage to both mental and physical health, or even death. Melodye believes that nature-based, nature-nurtured remedies are the safest choice.

“I believe we need more outreach to senior communities, more education, and to provide a sense of community. I see seniors at all levels in our community, from business owners to patients to adult users. Our current meetings have 30 to 40 members attending, even 75 at times.”

From personal experience, Melodye can attest that opioid use can be avoided for pain medication.

“I can only speak for myself. I no longer take opioids for pain or inflammation. I use cannabis topicals, concentrates and edibles to manage all symptoms of arthritis throughout my body. I am able to build my own business, be active in the community and attend many events because of cannabis and the many benefits it provides.”

T’Oakland Senior Canna Club also supports the Budding Compassion Network and other grassroots organizations. Tali Eisenburg and Barbara
Blaser at Magnolia [Oakland dispensary] are working with the club as well for further cannabis-education

“Our group will grow. We are just now asking members themselves what their needs are and how we can help. We’ll keep you posted. We are beginning to put together outside activities for the group, such as movie nights and pinball excursions. I would like to find a way to provide further education as well. This means education, community and activities with other senior cannabis users.”

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