International Cannabis Business Conference

Marijuana Maturity: AARP Coming Out of the Pot Closet

Susan Sarandon: "I would much rather my kids smoke weed than drink, except that it’s illegal."

For the third time this year, AARP Magazine (formerly Modern Maturity) has highlighted a Top CelebStoner in its pages. In the January/February issue, Susan Sarandon spoke about pot ("I would much rather my kids smoke weed than drink, except that it's illegal"), and now Willie Nelson and Jeff Bridges are featured in the latest issue.

“I'll probably take a couple of hits before or after the show tonight," Nelson relates in his interview. "It relaxes me, and the medicinal form of pot can cure everything from stress to cancer. It's a shame that it was thrown in with the other hard drugs. Now that the legalization has proven successful in Colorado and in Washington State, it's just a matter of time before it's legal everywhere. There's a lot of money to be made from it.”

Jeff Bridges "has admitted to a fondness for the occasional toke."

Bridges, who's "known for playing an immature slacker," referring to The Dude in The Big Lebowski, and appears on the cover, "is actually a conscientious family man,” the subhead reads. The article notes Bridges "has admitted to a fondness for the occasional toke" and mentions he took LSD in hopes of achieving enlightenment.

AARP, which claims a membership of 37 million, took some flack in 2005 when it was revealed they censored a poll of their membership that found a majority approved of medical marijuana.

However, in 2010, the magazine published a piece about California retirement community Laguna Woods Village (“Older Adults Increasingly Use Medical Marijuana for Nausea, Pain") after they opened their own medical marijuana dispensary,

According to OpenSecrets.org, AARP spent $9.6 million on lobbying in 2013, down from a peak of $36 million in 2006 (the group reportedly lost support when they failed to back a single-payer health plan). Much of AARP’s lobbying budget is spent on health care issues like Medicare funding and prescription drug availability. Subsidiary AARP Services Inc. offers Medicare supplemental health insurance, discounts on prescription drugs and long-term care insurance.

AARP wants "adequate funding" for controversial stem cell research, but says nothing in its policy paper about cannabis research, even though it notes that chronic pain costs the nation up to $625 billion each year in medical treatment and lost productivity. Their policy paper does say the federal government “should ensure that its research on pain management takes into consideration cultural differences in attitudes toward pain management” and "should fund research that examines all modalities of pain reduction."

It’s high time that former campus radicals of the '60s take over their local AARP chapters and lobby for the group to espouse medical marijuana, a pain treatment that actually works. Find your local chapter here.

Ellen Komp

Ellen Komp

Hemp/marijuana activist and writer based in Berkeley, California. She blogs at tokinwoman.blogspot.com