At 98 years old, Ruth Brunn is using marijuana. She has painful neuropathy but after taking her cannabis oil pill “I don’t feel high or stoned. All I know is I feel better when I take this.”1 In fact, the marijuana pills work so well that she’s been able to cut back on her other pain medication, morphine.

“The nursing home in New York City where she lives, the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, is taking the unusual step of helping its residents use medical marijuana under a new program to treat various illnesses with an alternative to prescription drugs. While the staff will not store or administer pot, residents are allowed to buy it from a dispensary, keep it in locked boxes in their rooms and take it on their own.

From retirement communities to nursing homes, older Americans are increasingly turning to marijuana for relief from aches and pains. Many have embraced it as an alternative to powerful drugs like morphine, saying that marijuana is less addictive, with fewer side effects.”2

Although marijuana use is still banned by federal law, it’s been approved for medical use in 29 states (and 11 states have legalized it for recreational use). And truthfully, since scientific evidence continues to show its effectiveness in treating certain medical conditions (some of which include severe pain, vomiting and nausea from chemotherapy, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of dementia as well as Parkinson’s disease) we SHOULD be using it rather than harsh and dangerous pharmaceuticals.

And for the small but growing number of adults using it in the 65 and older category, it’s good news.

“In the state of Washington, at least a dozen assisted living facilities have formal medical marijuana policies in response to demands from their residents, said Robin Dale, the executive director of the Washington Health Care Association. The association, an industry group, has posted a sample medical marijuana policy on its website.3

And at the Hebrew Home in the Bronx, medical director Dr. Zachary Palace, developed a program to offer marijuana as an option and yet still comply with federal regulations; the nursing home recommends and monitors its use but residents are responsible for buying, storing and administering it themselves.


As older people become an important demographic in the use of medical cannabis, questions are being raised about safety and accessibility. In some states where the miracle plant is legal, older people cannot get it and Most nursing homes “do not openly sanction its use, and many doctors are reluctant to endorse pot use, saying not enough is known about the risks in the oldest age groups.” 4(Except for in Israel where older people have been treated with medical marijuana for years.)


It won’t be long before cannabis is legal across all 50 states and after that happens, the federal government will be forced to remove their ridiculous Schedule I classification of the plant. And it’s about time.


  1. NY Times
  2. NY Times
  3. NY Times
  4. NY Times