Grandparents are a blessing that a lot of us come to appreciate a little too late in life. When we’re kids, they take us out for McDonald’s, often despite the disapproval of our parents, spoil us with snacks, laugh at jokes that would get our butts kicked at home and take care of us, no matter how short the notice, when mom and dad have to work. Even the meaner ones, those who like to pinch our cheeks until they’re bright red and constantly nag us about our marriage prospects or messy hair, are a treasure.
For those lucky enough to have grandparents into adulthood, grandma and grandpa tend to become close friends and confidants. Of course, this is when we realize that some old folks are cooler than others. Some find the church, while others are looking to let loose and party. Regardless of doctor’s orders, they still drink and smoke like it’s 1929. They hit the bingo halls three nights a week, enjoy cocktails almost every afternoon, and more often, as of late, are looking to try marijuana.
This is the jackpot for kids who get a kick out of gram wanting to catch a buzz. They never stop to consider that she was once a young, vibrant socialite, much like their grandkids are now, and there’s nothing that several decades, a set of dentures and a colostomy bag is going to do to keep them from having fun with their remaining time here on earth. So, when they ask a grandkid for pot, “hell yes,” is the natural (and appropriate) reaction.
To get nana as high as her blood pressure is a dream for almost every stoner, to see how she will react, to document the grand event and hopefully leave with a hilarious story to share with friends. But it’s that kind of enthusiasm, unfortunately, that often takes grandma one toke over the line.
“My nana wanted to try marijuana, but she didn’t want to smoke it,” Meghan, a 26-year-old from Lawrence, Kansas told The Bluntness. “On her birthday last year, we gave her a plate of homemade pot brownies.”
Nana, being a connoisseur of baked goods, as all good nanas are, was quick to dive into the THC-infused treats without fear. However, unbeknownst to her, the cannabis confections had a dark side.
“She spent most of the night on the couch, totally silent, which isn’t at all like her,” Meghan recalls. “She said the weed was interfering with her thyroid medication, but how could she know that? She even asked me for an antidote. I was like what? There is no antidote. She didn’t like that answer one bit.”
Listen, y’all, here’s the cold hard truth: we might be getting our grandparents too stoned. A recent study from the University of California San Diego finds there’s been a 1800% increase in cannabis-related emergency room visits involving California’s senior citizens. Some of these folks are undoubtedly going buck wild on weed after visiting their neighborhood dispensary, completely unaware that eating a 100mg edible is going to get them as close to Jeebus as they’ve ever come or that the weed they smoked in their heydays is not like the premium high-potency strains on the market today.
And while such an experience, for the young, often results in a humorous story (after the horror of a non-fatal overdose finally subsides, of course), ingesting too much THC for the elderly can be a vicious hell ride. Nobody wants to see nana stumbling around the house, gripping her chest while searching for a pen to scrawl out her last will and testament just because someone thought it would be funny to feed her a handful of gummies. She might not drop dead, that much is true. Marijuana overdoses, as far as we know, have yet to claim a life. But you had better believe she’ll consider, at the very least, the distinct possibility that her demise is on the horizon.
“Can you imagine going to your grandma’s funeral and everyone there knows she’s dead because you got her too high?” queries Zaida, a 26-year-old from Memphis, Tennessee. “Talk about awkward.”
Listen, getting a grandparent too high, knowing they might freak out a little, is really an issue of ethics.
“Fundamentally we have to understand that getting someone else too high is not kind nor is it legal,” Dr. Jordan Tishler, CEO at inhaleMD and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, told The Bluntness, adding that the goal shouldn’t be to get them high, but provide some relief while keeping them least affected. “While THC is the main medicine in cannabis and will always come with some degree of intoxication, getting high is really an unwanted side effect,” Dr. Tishler added. “Our goal for patients and seniors is to help them feel better without blasting them.”
It may sound like a good time to let grandma eat an entire plate of pot brownies, but the best way to help her, even if she’s just curious about the overall effects of pot, is to ease her into the experience. Cannabis might be safer than dozens of prescription medications that I can’t even begin to pronounce, but that doesn’t mean it is without risks. Dosage is crucial to maintaining safety.
“This requires careful attention to dose and the way the cannabis is taken,” Dr. Tishler declared. “These are not concerns that recreational users are used to. Cannabis is effective medicine at way lower doses than are typical for recreational users.”
So, nana, if you’re reading this, never accept the medical counsel of your grandchildren. We know you’re proud of them, but they have no expertise. Jimmy is a stock boy at Walmart and Kim hasn’t held a steady job since 2005. “Patients and seniors should be getting their advice from a cannabis specialist practitioner, not their kids or grandkids,” Dr. Tishler said emphatically.
In the end, feeding a grandparent too much weed just to get a laugh is a bonehead move, steeped in irresponsibility. Aside from being unethical and dangerous, it might even prevent nana from further exploring this medicine and receiving its benefits. “Getting someone blitzed may seem funny to a frequent cannabis user, but for non-users the initial experience can be quite frightening if the dose is too large,” Dr. Tishler asserts. “Intentionally misadvising someone or, worse, giving them a substance without their knowledge and consent, is cruel and unacceptable. Furthermore, it is illegal.”
Although grandma probably won’t press charges – what’s the point? Jimmy is just going to ask her for the bail money anyway – someone who isn’t a blood relative might. And that could bring down the heat in a big way. Prosecutors might not be quick to throw the book at pot offenders much these days, but get charged with drugging someone, especially the elderly, even if it is only a little pot, and see what wrath lies ahead. Spoiler alert: It won’t be good. “Intentional poisoning is a felony and can lead to prison time,” Dr. Tishler said. “Don’t be that guy.”