Published on Feb 18, 2014
“Talk to almost anybody over 65-years-old and there’s a list of medications that they’re taking. And very often, the side-effects from those medications are worse than the symptoms they’re supposedly treating,” says Steve DeAngelo of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a monopoly on the legal supply of marijuana for research purposes. Because NIDA is more focused on studying marijuana abuse than its potential benefits, researchers in the U.S. have had difficulty getting their hands on marijuana to use in their studies. One notable exception is a research project initiated by the University of California in 2000. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research has found that cannabis may offer benefits to people suffering from pain as a result of nerve damage, HIV, strokes, and other conditions.
The mounting evidence that cannabis has medicinal value is becoming increasingly difficult to deny. For example, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, was a medical cannabis skeptic when he wrote a 2009 TIME magazine article called “Why I Would Vote No on Pot.” After digging deeper into research conducted in other countries, Gupta changed his mind, saying, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my role in that.”
At the Harborside Health Center, Steve DeAngelo and his team are well aware that cannabis is an effective treatment for a wide range of health problems, including many of the ailments that afflict the elderly. The problem, however, is that seniors tend to be uninformed or misinformed about cannabis. So a few years ago, DeAngelo hired Sue Taylor, a retired Catholic school principal, to reach out to seniors in the Oakland area. As Taylor puts it, “I am here to remove the stigma of medical cannabis.”
Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.