Do you know someone who is a senior citizen that is opposed to cannabis reform?
Perhaps you are a senior citizen yourself?
Various definitions exist for what exactly it means to be a senior citizen. Some restaurants offer a senior citizen discount for people 55 and over, with others having a higher age definition.
For the purpose of this article, a senior citizen is someone that is 65 years old or older.
Support among senior citizens is vital to cannabis reform efforts, and it’s also the age group that is the most likely to oppose cannabis.
That can make it hard to discuss cannabis reform with seniors, however there are some tips that the Green Flower team would like to share for a positive cannabis dialogue with seniors in your life.
Factors that have shaped seniors’ views on cannabis policy
Although support for cannabis reform among seniors is thankfully increasing, an overwhelming majority of seniors still do not approve of cannabis.
A poll conducted last year by CBS found that just 37% of people 65 years old or older support cannabis legalization. To put that into perspective, support among 18-34 year-olds was 76%.
Contributing factors to a lower level of support among seniors include:
- Growing up in an era where cannabis was always taboo
- Constantly told that cannabis is a gateway drug
- Less access to credible cannabis reform information
- Longer exposure to anti-cannabis propaganda
People who are 65 years old today were born in the early 1950s or earlier.
Gallup did not start annual polling until 1969, and that year Gallup found just 12% support for cannabis legalization.
Senior citizens today lived through the Nixon administration, which was very anti-cannabis and was the time that current federal prohibition laws were enacted.
That is the era that senior citizens lived through, with younger seniors living their adolescence during those years, and older seniors living through the Nixon era as well as the Harry Anslinger era.
With that in mind, it’s understandable why many seniors oppose cannabis reform. It’s obviously unfortunate but understandable nonetheless.
Tips for talking to seniors when you are not a senior citizen
One of the most effective talking points when discussing cannabis with a senior when you are not a senior is the origins of cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis prohibition was not started because people thought it was a gateway drug, or that it made people lazy, or any of the common reasons that prohibitionists point to these days.
Cannabis prohibition was born out of purely racist motivations.
Harry Anslinger, the father of prohibition, made that clear when he stated:
Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.
Anslinger made many, many more vile comments about cannabis and minority groups, and he used unfair propaganda to institute cannabis prohibition, which immediately became a war on minorities.
While talking to seniors when you are not a senior citizen yourself, stick to the facts as much as possible. Avoid subjectiveness which is easy for others to disregard.
Realize that you do not have as much life experience as a senior citizen and that when you keep things based on just your opinion, your opinion will often get brushed aside and come across as ‘just being a phase.’
Share with seniors the undeniable benefits of cannabis legalization backed up with math.
Example talking points:
- The money saved by not enforcing cannabis prohibition
- The tax revenue being generated in legal states
- The number of jobs being created by the cannabis industry
- The lack of increase in youth consumption rates in legal states
- That cannabis is quantifiably safer than other legal substances such as alcohol
Whichever way the conversation goes, it’s helpful if you can maintain an attitude of gentle curiosity.
Sometimes when people oppose cannabis they can get very emotional when somebody challenges their perspective.
You’ll want to keep your own emotions in check, anticipate and prepare for the usual arguments against cannabis, and try to set the stage for an ongoing dialogue if this is somebody who is a part of your life.
Tips for talking to seniors when you are a senior citizen yourself
If you are a senior citizen yourself and you want to help a fellow senior get on the right side of history, you have a distinct advantage over a non-senior citizen in that you speak from a firsthand perspective.
As such, you will want to focus on your own personal experiences with cannabis and supporting cannabis reform. In doing so you will be providing information that a fellow senior can relate to.
Talk about why you support cannabis reform despite all of the anti-cannabis propaganda that has been forced upon you over the years.
By explaining how you arrived at the conclusions you have, you will hopefully walk other seniors through the thought process and convince them to join you on the right side of history.
If you are a cannabis consumer and a senior, be open about why you specifically use cannabis and how it helps you, especially if you use cannabis to treat a particular condition or ailment.
Chances are if you are finding relief from consuming cannabis for a common condition or ailment, other seniors will too. It often just takes them hearing it from someone else that they know and trust.
Always remember that as a senior, your most powerful weapon in the effort of changing other seniors’ minds is your own experiences. Share them often!