Is Grandma High?

Old age frees you

There it was, smack dab on the home page of The headline blared, “Marijuana Use By Seniors Goes Up as Boomers Age.” The Associated Press profiled eighty-eight-year-old Florence Siegel, who enjoys some Bach, a good red and a bowl of bud as she winds down her day.

According to the AP, all sorts of Greatest Geners and Boomers are finding their way back to the low hum of pot, hemp, weed, Mary Jane or, as grandfather Paul McCartney prefers to call it, “herbal jazz cigarettes.”

The older set interviewed in the story praises reefer for its splendid benefits ranging from pain relief and glaucoma control to, shockingly, better-sounding music.

Perhaps time has proven that a little weed won’t kill you. In fact, a fair argument could be made that it is less harmful than booze. Of course, heavy pot use is not healthy for anyone, especially adolescents whose brains are just forming. But heavy pizza usage isn’t good for you either, and they advertise that on television every four minutes. In fact, a greasy sausage pie is probably a far greater health threat to an octogenarian than a roach. (There. Joke made.)

Certainly the city of Madison takes a casual view of pot. According to the web, private marijuana use is legal here. Public weed usage can get you a $109 fine, which is cheaper than a speeding ticket on Mineral Point Road. But really, who cares? What is at issue is the breaking wave of Boomers who are getting ready to do whatever the hell they want. Again.

Remember, we Boomers threw one of the biggest mass tantrums in history. We grew our hair, partied, discarded brassieres and had sex in untold numbers. Oh sure, we made some legit political arguments to justify the chaos, but that didn’t make it any less fun. And now that same generation is getting ready to once again throw caution to the wind and celebrate freedom.

This could get ugly. Bogarting Florence Siegel is a product of the Greatest Generation. If those guys are burbling on the bong, God only knows how we Boomers will revolt.

Braless grannies.

Grandpas with ponytails overdosing on patchouli oil.

Seniors will do more than wear red hats to lunch.

When the kids have flown and you begin to see your age listed in the obits, it has a way of freeing you from trivial concerns. And thanks to the advances of modern medicine and big pharma, Boomers are already taking lots of drugs.

At the Roach Brothers’ Somewhat Annual Fishing Trip in May, it is not unusual to see large numbers of guys hobble down the stairs, pour a cup of coffee and open a travel baggie filled not with pot, but with a brilliant array of colored pills prescribed to them by their docs.

Once, when one of the guys laid out an eye-popping number of tablets, I asked him what the hell all of them were for and he calmly replied, “Well John, my doctor told me that I had to eat less, drink less, weigh less and exercise more. Or, I could just take these little pills. I opted for the latter. It was a very easy decision.”

Given the amount of drugs dispensed daily at Walgreens, it becomes harder to see the danger in a puff and other mischief. And if you think this is a radical notion, watch It’s Complicated. In one of the funnier movie scenes of the year, none other than the proper Meryl Streep tokes up with Steve Martin and then floats around a rehearsal dinner awash in giggles—a bold, liberating act for the divorced mother of the bride.

Perhaps this trend should be comforting, not shocking. Not because the generation that mainstreamed pot has chosen to relive its youth, but for another more charming notion.

The concept that old age frees you.

Sure the knees, back and hips are not what they once were. But upon hitting a certain number of years on the planet, you become
liberated from the onerous burden that weighs upon the young: the opinion of others.

Let’s face it. It is safe to assume that Flo and friends in a Florida condo don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about their toking.

And they shouldn’t.

Though I am not there yet, I can see old age from where I am standing.

Already I am creating a list of things of things I haven’t done.

Acid. Taking a luxury train across the Canadian Rockies.

But the one thing that I am most curious about is cigarettes. I have never smoked them, but folks who do really seem to like them.

So when, and if, I turn eighty-eight, here is the present I am going to buy for myself: a carton of Camels.

Madison-based television producer John Roach writes this column monthly. Comments? Questions? Write

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