This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous rock concert Woodstock. 

Five hundred thousand people literally closed the New York State thruway heading to White Lake, New York, to see a multitude of famous and about-to-be famous performers. I was one of those people; a recent high school graduate who thought this would be the best thing ever, and it was!

The late ’60s was a time of hippies, peace, love, war protest signs and marijuana. Of course, it was illegal, and anyone who indulged was subject to arrest if caught. It didn’t seem to dissuade the many concertgoers at Woodstock, and in fact, there were so many kids smoking that the police chose to ignore it and just focus on keeping us safe. 

In the U.S., there is a long history of the legalization of cannabis (legal term for marijuana). Many argued whether it was safe and proper to make it legal at all. Several states began approving it for medicinal purposes, requiring a doctor specifically trained in the substance to do a physical and mental evaluation of the patient for its use. The legal process really began state by state around 1906 and resulted in prohibitions beginning in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s cannabis was regulated as a drug in every state, including 35 states that adopted the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. Cannabis was officially outlawed for any use (medical included) with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. States and other jurisdictions implemented policies that conflicted with federal law, beginning with the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996. By 2016, a majority of states had legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use on a local basis but not through legislative measures. In January 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize it through an act of legislature as opposed to the above-mentioned ballot initiatives. 

There are only a few places locally that sell cannabis that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the part of the plant that affects you differently than the cannabidiol (CBD), which is more suited for pain. Bottom line, the difference is that you can use a topical lotion with CBD, and it helps to alleviate muscle tenderness, arthritis and other chronic pain for up to several hours at a time without any reaction that gives you the feeling of being high. I have met numerous seniors who find the creams, lotions, oils and even the CBD edibles help either eliminate pain for a period of time or bring it down to a manageable level. It depends on the product used and the level of discomfort the person is experiencing. 

Smoking marijuana is usually entails a combination of the CBD and THC part of the plant. The CBD helps with pain and the THC has a relaxing effect that can aid in sleep. There are a lot of different strains, so if you are experimenting, it is advised to speak with a knowledgeable vendor who can suggest the right product for your specific needs. Finding the right amount and level of cannabis is crucial and should be researched thoroughly. Some strains can cause slight paranoia so avoid those. There are a few dispensaries, but finding one that is reputable is key. I have found the government is being diligent to insure safety, quality and honesty. It is a huge learning process. They placed a 30 percent tax on these products but some places offer a 10 percent discount for seniors so it helps defer that tax a bit. Some dispensaries have satellite vendors that are solely a delivery service and may or may not mark up the products as a middleman. Do your homework. Several towns don’t allow marijuana delivery of any kind, and you may have to make arrangements to meet the courier in another area. Check to see if there is a minimum dollar amount and always use cash as they are not set up for credit cards or personal checks; only debit cards may be accepted by some. They do not carry cash for change so bring the exact amount. It may be prudent to share an order with someone else to defer minimum costs for free delivery.

Marijuana use is extremely controversial. Some feel the THC is dangerous and should not be legal. I appreciate that point of view, but it is a plant and is safer than potent and addicting opioids. If someone can benefit safely from a natural remedy then it is worth looking into it, especially the CBD portion for pain relief, which can now be found online. Before you decide to try anything new, consult your doctor and get his or her input. As for me, I will smile and reminisce this year about a time of flower power, unity and peace on that farm 50 years ago.  

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