High Times

Dazed and Confused: The Later Years

With new decriminalization in some states, boomers everywhere are slipping back into that stoner zone many haven’t visited since the '70s

As we baby boomers have aged, our lives, like our bodies, have begun to seem a little frayed around the edges. We're kind of tired and achy, dreams not yet realized probably won't be, our kids are grown and gone, and the house needs paint. (I am sixty. Hear me sigh.)

But we're not dead yet. In fact, we're showing definite signs of renewed vigor. Apparently, we are livening things up by drawing on old, familiar energy sources, the ones that powered our youth. Like, say, weed.

Studies show there's a steep increase in the use of marijuana among people over fifty. What with new decriminalization in some states, plus the availability of medical pot, boomers everywhere are slipping back into that stoner zone many haven't visited since the Seventies.

OK, sure, some people are using pot to help with arthritis or the effects of chemotherapy or whatever. But mostly, I'm told, this is strictly social.

So why are all the gray-tops getting stoned? I'm thinking most of them never really kicked the stuff. They just took a leave of absence.

I mean, I have always imagined reaching an age at which I would resume activities I'd given up before having children. After raising my daughters in a home free of illegal or unhealthy activity, I might, one day, dust off my college grocery list, go out and buy potato chips, cigarettes, a bottle of tequila and a bag of weed.

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This might be a prevailing attitude among boomers. Picture a graying couple on their doorstep, waving goodbye to their youngest college-bound child, then yelling "Yippee!" and heading for the garage to find the bong.

When I was in college in the late Sixties, pot ruled. Drinking was not nearly as hot a recreational activity as smoking weed was. On my hallway, literally one out of ten of us was a drinker. Connie had the Scotch bottle all to herself, while the rest of us were huddled together, breaking the law.

I believe that ratio applied campus-wide. In every dorm on a Saturday night, there'd be one girl booze-puking out her window while the others blew smoke out theirs.

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Pot was relatively new in our world then — that is, new to the sheltered, clean streets where my peers and I grew up. So it was like, say, Facebook was when first introduced: big fun, in the beginning, so you used it way too much. Then, as it became so ubiquitous, your interest waned. You may even have realized you didn't like it much and given it up entirely.

This was the case for me, by the way. I got a bad joint once, laced with something nasty. You know the feeling when your head blows off and rolls down a hill? It was like that.

I gave up pot then, although a lot of people I knew didn't. My friend Trish has kept up her habit to this day, right through raising a family. She was scrupulous, though, lest you think ill of her. She'd always wait till the kids were mesmerized by "Dora the Explorer" before she hit the back yard with a spliff.

A housekeeper down the block told my housekeeper that her employer has a stash of pot in her closet the size of a hay bale. Another housekeeper further down the block told the second housekeeper who told my housekeeper that she had to be carted off in an ambulance when she mistakenly ate a loaded brownie from her employer's fridge.

So, while some have stayed stoned their entire adult lives, the increasing number of older potheads might just reflect the re-entry of those who took a kid break and are now back in the fog.

Also, it's not just sixty-somethings who are getting higher. Even octogenarians who suffered from pot-envy when their children were turning on are finally discovering what they missed.

I just read about an 88-year-old whose nightly ritual includes a glass of wine, the newspaper and a big, fat joint. Another eighty-something puffs on a Marley and claims it improves her croquet skills. A couple pushing ninety are smoking regularly with their grandson. (Well, not technically smoking. The kid drops some pot in their vaporizer, which they happily inhale.) They may be wondering why many of the kid's buddies are suddenly keen on dropping by.

If the rest of the states can make like Colorado and Washington and lighten up, this whole nation might light up. The people will be happy (although obesity rates may go up), the birds will sing (due to secondhand smoke) and maybe Congress will even pass a bill (if they're not just too damn stoned).

Tags: well being