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Seniors in Texas aren’t idling on marijuana

Those in their golden years are increasingly becoming consumers of marijuana. One group of seniors in Texas doesn’t believe they should have to hide in fear because of a law which they say is time to change.

As the baby boomer generation ages, the numbers continually climb for those seeking to reduce their dependence on prescription medication and turn to a plant which has been shown to help with inflammation and pain. They’re not just smoking it either, but also infusing food and making tinctures as well.

Dawn McDowell Brooks, who heads up the Texas NORML Senior Alliance, counts herself among those in Texas consuming cannabis as medicine. She also worked long hours at the capitol earlier this year to help marijuana bills gain traction. Unfortunately the legislature ran out of time before it could hear a medical marijuana bill which had the support of over half of the Texas House of Representatives. The bill began with only a handful of supporters and opposition from its committee chair.

Her group recently held a meeting in Austin to get more seniors involved in the effort to legalize marijuana.

“We know a lot of folks were really disappointed in the 2017 session and know that there is still some disappointment in what folks hoped would have happened,” Brooks says.

“It’s been several months since the session ended and we’ve had a few months to take a breath to think about the 2019 session. It is not too early to plan,” she states. “It was important to have a meeting now so that we could begin thinking about and planning for the next session. We wanted to begin to pull folks in who are just as anxious to get these laws changed.”

The meeting featured Bill Norton, who founded Texas NORML, the Austin-based chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He spoke on the history of the movement and how tough it has been to change the laws, noting that involvement waned in the ’80s and early ’90s.

Participation has been steadily on the rise recently however, with a number of families coming out in support of medical marijuana for their children, often who have epilepsy, and other loved ones.

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018
Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

Mostly the meeting was about getting everyone in the same room, making plans going forward, and brainstorming on the various avenues everyone could take to increase awareness about both legalization and the Senior Alliance.

Later this fall the group will be conducting a state-wide conference call and begin outreach to seniors around the state through various local chapters of NORML. They’ll also participate in getting information out about candidates who are running for office and what their stance is on cannabis reform. Activists throughout the state have found that getting more cannabis-friendly legislators in office is a must. Voter guides for the primaries are scheduled to be released early next year.

Brooks says that it’s also important for seniors to go ahead and reach out to their representatives now. This allows them to establish a relationship with their elected officials before the next session and ensure that they understand this is a serious issue.

The Senior Alliance will also have another meeting later this year, likely a meeting and pot luck at a private home.

For those wondering what they can do on their own, Brooks advises them to identify local organizations which would be receptive to having someone speak at or provide information to about marijuana law reform, visit with their representatives, and also get involved directly with the Senior Alliance through their Facebook group.

“We are a generation who has been waiting for change, in some instances, since the ’60s. We’ve experienced and seen the horrors of the ’70s and Nixon’s drug wars and some have been on the front lines for decades trying to make cannabis legal,” Brooks says. “We are now at a point in our lives where if a person chooses to opt to use cannabis versus a prescribed medication (or to augment it), they should be allowed to do so.”

She continues, “We are a generation that has conditions which are more prevalent to us: Arthritis, Dementia, Glaucoma, IBS, cancer treatment, PTSD, and on and on. There are thousands of seniors who are smoking behind closed doors in fear of what would happen if they were found out. Is that a way to live in our ‘golden years?’ I believe we should live fear-free when it comes to cannabis consumption and the only way that’s going to happen is with the change of our current laws. The only way the laws will be changed is to get involved at what ever level you can or feel comfortable doing.”

Brooks concluded, “Sometimes taking a risk is what needs to happen, and that risk could mean attending your first meeting. I’d suggest taking that risk, for the betterment of yourself and our senior community.”

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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1 Comment

  1. Richard Lee Adkins
    July 19, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    The time has come, it’s obvious in the polls and opinion of the residents and Texas voters. If only the Governor and Lt Governor and other legislators would finally vote according to the wishes of the constituency instead of their own biased personal opinions.