Tag Archives: boomers
Like many of her peers, Zoe Helene, 48, smoked marijuana in her early 20s but gave it up as her career in the digital world took off in the 1990s. Today the multidisciplinary artist and environmental activist lives in Amherst, Mass., and is building a global network of trailblazers called Cosmic Sister. Since she married an ethnobotanist in 2007, she has returned to using cannabis occasionally — “as a tool for evolving and expanding my psyche.”
Helene is among a group of women that Marie Claire magazine has dubbed “Stiletto Stoners — card-carrying, type-A workaholics who just happen to prefer kicking back with a blunt instead of a bottle.” She’s also one of a growing legion of boomers who are returning to marijuana now that the stigma and judgment (and laws) surrounding its use are becoming more lax.
Massachusetts, which decriminalized pot in 2008, became the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana, last year. In the 2012 presidential election, which New York Times columnist Timothy Egan called America’s “cannabis spring,” Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational use, launching weed into the national spotlight and spawning a flurry of marijuana initiatives. Since then, decriminalization bills have been introduced in 10 additional states, and legalization is being considered in 11 states and Puerto Rico.
This trend, along with decriminalization in cities like Chicago, Boston, New York and Denver, has removed a major “barrier to entry” for law-abiding citizens who would use cannabis as medicine or a substitute for alcohol. No longer worried about breaking the law or having their kids discovering their “dirty little secret,” many boomers are returning to a substance they once enjoyed. Others, who never stopped smoking, are coming out of the closet (or the garage) about their use.
The Return of Reefer
While boomers looking for stress relief turn to exercise, yoga, meditation or religion, plenty relax with alcohol or pharmaceuticals. For those who don’t drink (or can’t anymore for health reasons) or take prescription drugs but still want to unwind at the end of the day, laxer laws and attitudes have made marijuana acceptable.
Many respected doctors, homeopaths and naturopaths tout cannabis as natural medicine for a range of conditions, both physical and mental — especially when it’s ingested by means other than smoking. And with the rise of medical marijuana and legal dispensaries, adults don’t have to resort to clandestine meetings on street corners with black market strangers. They can with a prescription walk into a legitimate business establishment and choose from a variety of strains with the help of a “bud tender.”
‘Everybody Smokes Dope After Work’
Clearly there’s been a sea change. In 1969, 84% of all Americans opposed legalizing marijuana. In April 2013, Pew Research found that for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, more Americans than not (52%) want marijuana to be legal. And that’s not just college kids: Among boomers the number is only slightly lower (50%).
A segment of the boomer generation never stopped smoking pot, but many did. In the 1980s, while starting families and building careers, they were influenced by the zeitgeist: Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, known as DARE, in their kids’ schools. People didn’t want to be associated with the stoner caricatures they saw depicted in movies, like Sean Penn’s iconic Jeff Spicoli inFast Times at Ridgemont High.
President Bill Clinton’s confession that he had smoked marijuana once but “didn’t inhale” did little to encourage open use. Contrast that with President Barack Obama’s statement that not only did that he inhale frequently but “that was the point.”
Legalized marijuana is gathering increasingly high-profile support. Last year chef, author and TV personalityAnthony Bourdain told The New York Times that “everybody smokes dope after work.” And a host of respected public figures — including Paul Volcker, Deepak Chopra, Michael Pollan and PBS’s Rick Steves — have been vocal advocates for legalization.
Another sign of the changing times is the proliferation of marijuana lifestyle stories in the media. In February, The New York Times Style section ran an article on marijuana etiquette, soliciting “an Emily Post to hack a pathway through this fuggy thicket, particularly given pot’s increased presence in the mainstream.”
The Cannabis Closet: Firsthand Accounts of the Marijuana Mainstream, published in 2010 by The Dish, surprised a lot of people with its candid testimonials from pot-smoking corporate executives, government officials and responsible parents.
Not all the rebudding boomers are coming back for recreational purposes. A large segment isn’t after the buzz but is using marijuana for a panoply of health issues. In the 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) where medical marijuana is legal, it’s being prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with cancer, glaucoma, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, migraines and chronic pain and countless other maladies. Some studies show that it might even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and fight tumors.
Steve DeAngelo, 55, executive director of Harborside Health Center, which operates dispensaries in Oakland and San Jose, believes marijuana can be “part of a more holistic approach” to health care. Many of his clients suffering from insomnia, anxiety or lowered libido are using cannabis as an alternative to “pharmaceuticals that come with a list of side effects reading like something out of a Stephen King novel,” he says.
Medical marijuana entered the national consciousness in 1991, when San Francisco physicians were first allowed to prescribe it. Five years later California voters approved the first statewide medical marijuana laws. (Interestingly, marijuana was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1850 until 1942 and wasn’t illegaluntil the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The U.S. government categorized it a Schedule 1 substance without medicinal value in 1970.)
Like a slow train gathering steam, other states followed California’s lead. The train took off like a bullet in 2009 when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration would essentially look the other way if state-approved dispensaries complied with local laws.
Today medical marijuana is a highly profitable industry. Precise customer numbers are elusive, but as acceptance spreads, the head count grows. To obtain a medical marijuana card, patients have to be diagnosed with an approved condition by a licensed physician and register with the state.
Once their doctor writes a prescription, users can enter a marijuana emporium, offering a dizzying array of cannabis strains as well as new delivery systems, including electronic vaporizers, capsules, tinctures, teas, honeys, drinks and oils. Marijuana-infused food products, aka “medibles,” have expanded way beyond pot brownies to include pizza, pasta sauce, popcorn, ice cream, soda and even salad dressing.
This booming business, which was the subject of a recent Fortune cover story, is estimated to generate annual revenues of $ 36 billion — and that number is expected to double over the next five years.
Targeting the Boomer Market
This expanding market segment isn’t lost on marijuana cultivators, who are hybridizing varieties with particular appeal to users more interested in preventive health care and pain maintenance than catching a buzz. These strains are higher in the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD, which has anti-inflammatory properties and provides pain relief but doesn’t affect thinking and productivity.
Established players are using their business acumen to shape the industry. Former Microsoft manager Jamen Shively (aka “the Bill Gates of Cannabis”) recently took things in a new direction when he opened Diego Pellicer, which bills itself as “the first legal retail brand in the United States focused exclusively on legal, premium marijuana for pleasure and creative pursuits.” Shively has said that he’s specifically appealing to “baby boomers with disposable incomes who smoked during college years but took a 30-year break to raise a family.”
Private equity firms are getting in on the action by strategically investing in the legal cannabis industry — and they’re targeting boomers. Michael Blue, co-founder of Privateer Holdings, says that midlifers represent about 40 percent of the visitors to his company’s first acquisition, Leafly.com, where “discerning connoisseurs who select cannabis strains like they select fine wines” can rate and compare marijuana.
A prime target: Zoe Helene, whose casual use is part of her holistic vegetarian lifestyle. She occasionally eats her husband’s “marjoons” (marijuana macaroons) to heighten her creativity, loosen up her body for dance and yoga, and help her grow spiritually.
“I’m not a pothead,” the boomer says. “For me, cannabis is a loving plant spirit that helps me understand myself. It heightens my senses and reminds me of higher levels of consciousness I can attain. And then I attain them, without it.”
Boulder, Colorado–based writer Robyn Griggs Lawrence is working with a group of professional chefs on a cookbook that will help people safely and responsibly make and eat haute cannabis cuisine.
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Baby boomers, the generation that vowed to stay forever young, are getting older, designing senior-friendly gyms and becoming their own personal trainers.
In exercise havens for the over-50 set, the cardio machines are typically low impact, the resistance training is mainly air-powered and some group fitness classes are taken sitting down.
At Welcyon gyms, founded by husband-and-wife boomers Suzy and Tom Boerboom, the average age of members is 62.
“The environment is really designed for those 50 and over,” said Suzy Boerboom.
The couple created Welcyon, which has locations in Minnesota and South Dakota, in 2009. It has no tread-mills and no free weights and workouts are customized to members’ levels of fitness. A smart card sets resistance, counts repetitions and adjusts workouts.
An important attraction for many boomers: background music is a combination of ’40s, ’50s and ’60s tunes played at a much lower volume than in traditional gyms.
“It was something I could manage,” said 66-year-old Bill Zortman, one of an estimated 78 million baby boomers, defined as the group born between 1946 and 1964, who make up about 26 percent of the U.S. population, according to U.S. Census reports.
His thrice-weekly workouts at a Welcyon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, consists of riding a bicycle or using air-powered resistance machines to strengthen his legs, arms and back.
“They make sure I’m not overdoing it,” Zortman said of the staff, who Boerboom said are often boomers themselves.
The absence of clanging free weights also cuts down on the racket, Boerboom said, noting that many people over 50 prefer a quieter gym.
Group fitness classes for boomers are also modified.
“We’re just beginning to develop a group fitness interval training program,” Boerboom said. “It will be four to six people and low impact.”
The American Council on Exercise says many of their fitness professionals are baby boomers who specialize in working with older adults.
“People in their early 60′s are becoming personal trainers and group fitness instructors,” said Todd Galati, ACE’s director of credentialing.
But they are far from the majority, as the average age of ACE’s 50,000 certified fitness professionals is 42, and more than 37 percent are over 40.
“Every year I talk to newly certified personal trainers, retired from their career in another field, who want to help people their age become more fit,” Galati said.
A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that a sample of baby boomers had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol than their parents’ generation.
“There is a big bad myth about the boomer generation being more fit,” said Dr. Sheldon S. Zinberg, founder of Nifty after Fifty fitness centers for older adults. “In fact, the boomer generation is less fit than their parents were at same age.”
The chain has locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Virginia and New York. Its programs target muscle power, muscle strength, reaction time, balance and cognitive skills, he said.
“At age 40 people lose 0.8 to 1 percent muscle mass each year. By age 60 this accelerates to 1.5 percent,” Zinberg said.
At Nifty after Fifty, group fitness classes range from yoga and Zumba to seated volleyball and cane fu, a self-defense class in which participants use a cane.
As with Welcyon, there are no tread-mills. “We used to use tread-mills, but we had people falling off,” Zinberg said. “We use recumbent stair steppers, among other exercisers.”
He advises people to get fit in their 40s and 50s, “and when you do become older, enjoy a supervised, customized program.”
Boerboom said Welcyon plans to open more gyms later this year. “There are over 70 million of us boomers,” she said, “and we have to take care of ourselves.”
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Dan Grebler)
- Share this
- Digg this
SATURDAY Sept. 1 — It’s safe for older adults to run marathons, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada tested marathon participants over age 50 before and after their 26.2-mile run. Using blood tests, ultrasounds and scans up to three months later, they found the runners had temporary heart effects similar to those seen in runners aged 18 to 40.
The effects included a brief increase in blood indicators of heart damage and temporary swelling and weakness in the right side of the heart immediately after the marathon. All of these effects disappeared within a week.
“There was no evidence of permanent heart damage from repeated marathon running in individuals over the age of 50,” primary study author Davinder Jassal, an associate professor of medicine, radiology and physiology, said in a university news release.
The study was published online in August in the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance.
Aging populations in Canada and the United States mean there’s a growing number of people over age 50 who exercise regularly, the researchers noted. For example, the number of older people taking part in marathons has doubled over the past two decades.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.
Posted: September 2012
New Move Could Identify More Than 800,000 People With Hepatitis C
Aug. 16, 2012 — Effective immediately, all U.S. baby boomers should get a one-time blood test for the hepatitis C virus, the CDC says.
One in 30 baby boomers born between 1945 through 1965 has been infected with hepatitis C, and most have no clue. Hepatitis C can go undetected without symptoms, but slowly causes serious liver diseases, including liver cancer. It is also the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S.
“Three-quarters of all hepatitis C infections and three-quarters of hepatitis C deaths occur in baby boomers,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said today during a conference call with reporters. “Baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adult Americans.”
The new recommendations strengthen existing guidelines that state that all people at high risk for hepatitis C should be tested. “While we continue to recommend testing for high-risk individuals, baby boomers are now added to the list,” Frieden says. This move could help identify 800,000 more Americans with hepatitis C.
New Therapies Can Cure Hepatitis C
“The sooner you know, the more you can protect your liver and your life,” Frieden says.
If the test is positive, people can lower their risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis by:
- Avoiding certain medications that affect the liver
- Avoiding alcohol
- Getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B
New therapies can cure up to 75% of infections. Frieden says the expanded testing, along with appropriate care and treatment, could save more than 120,000 lives.
Frieden, a baby boomer himself, plans to get tested at his next well visit.
Are You at Risk for Hepatitis C?
Risk factors for this silent but potentially lethal infection include:
- History of blood transfusions or other blood products, or organ transplant before widespread adoption of screening measures
- Long-term dialysis treatment
- Exposure to hepatitis C such as through a health care setting
- Infection with HIV, the AIDS virus
- Children born to mothers with hepatitis C
- Tattooing or piercing with non-sterile instruments
- Injection drug use
“Some baby boomers may not remember or know of the events that place them at risk,” says John Ward, MD. He directs the division of viral hepatitis at the National Center for HIV/ AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention in Atlanta.
“Hepatitis C can live for decades in the body, slowly destroying the liver and causing no symptoms,” he says. “The earlier the treatment is provided, the more effective it can be at reducing risk for liver damage and liver cancer.”
The final recommendations appear in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Their release dovetails with a new phase in the CDC’s “No More Hepatitis” campaign.
Hepatitis C Experts Get Behind New Recommendations
Eugene R. Schiff, MD, directs the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine, and is the vice president of the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation. He is 100% behind the new recommendation.
By the time this gets implemented, there will be more hepatitis C drugs available with fewer side effects than existing medications, Schiff says. “It will be test and treat like with HIV.”
Former hepatitis C patient Martha Saly also lauds the new recommendation. “This is something we have been waiting for,” says Saly, who is the director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable in Rohnert Park, Calif.
“Getting diagnosed is really important because there are many things you can do to maintain your health even if you have hepatitis C,” she says. “Stop drinking, stop smoking, lose weight, and you can really help your liver to not progress so quickly. … Alcohol is like putting gas on the fire when you already have liver damage.”
1 in 30 Baby Boomers Infected With Hepatitis C, but Few Know It
In the wake of new statistics showing more than 2 million baby boomers in the U.S. are infected with hepatitis C, the CDC is proposing new guidelines calling for all adults of that generation to be tested for the virus.
Officials say baby boomers, the generation born from 1945 through 1965, now account for more than 75% of all Americans living with the virus. But recent studies show few are aware they are infected or at risk for infection.
“Identifying these hidden infections early will allow more baby boomers to receive care and treatment, before they develop life-threatening liver disease,” says Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, in a news release.
Current hepatitis C testing guidelines call for only those with certain risk factors to be tested for the virus.
The announcement of the proposed change coincides with the first-ever National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19. After a public comment period, the new guidelines are expected to be finalized later this year.
Hepatitis C: Hidden Killer
The hepatitis C virus is spread through exposure to infected blood. The most common means of infection is through sharing of needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.
Researchers say most baby boomers were likely infected with hepatitis C when they were in their teens or 20s.
Some may have been infected when they experimented with injection drugs, even just once. Others may have been exposed to the virus through blood transfusions before modern blood-screening procedures came into effect in 1992.
Once infected, the hepatitis C virus causes progressive damage to the liver and can go undetected for many years without symptoms. Some people may have symptoms — like fever, fatigue, dark urine, and abdominal pain — six to seven weeks after getting infected.
The CDC says one-time testing of all baby boomers for the hepatitis C virus could identify more than 800,000 people infected with the virus, allow for early treatment to prevent liver disease, and save more than 120,000 lives.
Researchers say therapies can cure up to 75% of hepatitis C infections.
“With increasingly effective treatments now available, we can prevent tens of thousands of deaths from hepatitis C,” says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in the release.