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Memo To Cannabis Entrepreneurs

Subject: Old Folks & Your Bottom Line

Whatever Cannabis products your company makes, if you are not including the Seniors market in your strategic planning, and if you are not developing the specific messages, products and support mechanisms needed to reach and penetrate the Seniors market, you are not only missing a great opportunity – you are ceding an enormous part of the market to your competition.

It is natural for Cannabis entrepreneurs to concentrate on the markets they know best – which in many cases means mainly other young people, because a lot of Cannabis entrepreneurs are themselves on the healthy side of 65. 

But just because their bodies are old, and their capabilities not what they once were, doesn’t mean that old people cannot become excited, loyal customers for any company that makes the effort to identify and address their special needs and desires.

Because Cannabis and Cannabis products are so relevant to the needs and desires of older people, and because older people are too-often simply being ignored as the Cannabis market is being developed, largely by younger people, those businesses who create quality Cannabis products tailored specifically to the needs and desires of Seniors will not only rake in a large share of the profits to be made in their sector, they will give themselves staying power that will last for decades.

There is a simple reason for this. A person in their 30’s today is going to be a person in their 60’s in the blink of an eye. (Believe me – it happens precisely that fast.) Just as young people create new opportunities for businesses, people growing old creates an equally powerful set of opportunities.

Seniors Need Cannabis & Cannabis Companies Need Seniors

Humanitarian arguments concerning the positive moral value of providing Seniors with loving, caring treatment with Cannabis may not seem relevant to people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s who are busy building a Cannabis business. They are rightfully focused on their bottom line and so they are, for the most part, consumed with going after what they see as low-hanging fruit – the tens of millions of young existing Cannabis consumers lusting for new experiences, new products, and new ways to get high.

But that good old bottom line is exactly why smart young businesspeople need to pay attention to the sheer size of the potential Cannabis market for Seniors. Because numbers matter on the bottom line, and even if compassion isn’t part of the formal calculations, its influence is either there or it is not. And it does make a difference – in the case of the Cannabis market for Seniors, it can make a huge difference. Here are some things to consider.

Why Caregiver Demographics Matter

In Fall, 2015 the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP published extensive data that among other things showed that 34 million Americans had provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the prior 12 months. Using a 1:1 ratio that means a cohort of 68 Million people.

Research also consistently shows that more than 50% of people over 50 have a favorable view of medical Cannabis. However, since there are only @ 4 – 5 Million current Cannabis users over age 55, there are a lot more people who could benefit from medical use of Cannabis than are currently using it.

Given the numbers, it is reasonable to project that @ 50% of Senior Caregivers and 50% of the Seniors they are caring for probably have a favorable view of Cannabis as a natural medicine, EVEN THOUGH only a relatively small percentage of those with favorable views are currently using Cannabis.

Don’t you wonder why this is the case? If you have anything to do with the Cannabis industry, you should be thinking about this.

The data tells anyone who cares to look that 30-40 million people who have excellent reasons to be interested in Cannabis as a natural medicine have not yet tried it. Why not? Could it be as simple as this – they might simply need to have more information presented to them in relevant terms, or they may have serious fears that nobody has addressed effectively.

The NAC/AARP 2015 study also shows that: “The majority of caregivers are female (60%), but 40 percent are male. Eight in 10 are taking care of one person (82%). They are 49 years of age, on average. A large majority of caregivers provide care for a relative (85%), with 49 percent caring for a parent or parent-in-law. One in 10 provides care for a spouse. Higher-hour caregivers are almost four times as likely to be caring for a spouse/partner.”

So, a typical caregiver is a woman in their middle age caring full-time for a parent or elderly relative at home, unpaid and largely unappreciated, and subject to their own challenges of boredom, stress, fatigue and declining health. Many of these people are seeking, or would be open to, any solution that will make their job easier and the lives of those they love and care for better.

So, bottom line (there it is again), Cannabis companies, no matter what their products or markets, have an opportunity to expand their vision to address a whole new market of 30—40 million potential customers.

It’s simple to ignore that little fact –  because you’re already making tons of money. But then the smart people who are your competitors will eat your lunch. That is the challenge to any business that wants to be a part of the Cannabis community.

There Are Seniors Markets Beyond Caregiver/Patient

There are over 75 Million independent seniors in the US, many with medical issues identical to those of seniors living under care, that can potentially be addressed effectively by Cannabis.

Let’s look at Sleep as an example – a health issue for which the right Cannabis strains are a well-established treatment.

Between 50-70 million Americans, over half of them over 65, have chronic moderate to severe sleep problems, and over 80% of them say they are extremely dissatisfied with the sleeping “medicines” they use. Over 70% of the Google searches for the “sleep aid” category in 2016 were for “natural sleep aid”. Clearly there are a lot of people who need help sleeping, a huge number of them over 65, and they are out there searching for help sleeping, which means they haven’t found anything that works yet, and their searches say clearly that they want natural medicines, not pharmacological poisons.

Properly used, the right Cannabis strains can reduce or eliminate sleep issues for many if not most of those 50-70 million people with moderate to severe sleep problems, both those seniors being cared for and those who are independent.

It may be unnecessary to say this, but that is a whole hell of a lot of people looking for a single type of product – an effective natural sleep aid. Hello?

I Know This Subject Intimately

I have been a caregiver for long periods in my life, first as a single father for 5 years with an infant son, and then later, along with my wife, we cared first for my mother and then for her mother for another 20 years.

Let’s just say that I am quite familiar with every kind of diaper, infant and adult, and I have lost more than my share of arguments over who was going to finish their dinner before getting dessert.

I have also been a Cannabis grower, writer and researcher for over 50 years. I wrote the first book on Marijuana growing in 1969 as well as the first book on making and cooking with healing Cannabis extracts in 1982. 

So as I write this blog post I have the benefit of many years of experience both as a caregiver and also with the use of Cannabis Flowers as a natural medicine, a source of pleasure and healing, and a tool for insight and creativity.

What Many If Not Most Seniors Need

Seniors who need supportive care because of poor health or just plain age, as well as many completely independent seniors, share important quality of life issues including poor sleep, poor appetite, chronic pain, diminished memory, and loss of interest.

All of these conditions of old age, especially when combined with poor health, can be treated and in some instances healed with informed use of the right Cannabis strains.

Whether Cannabis Flowers are smoked using a traditional pipe, a fancy bong or as a classic joint, or whether they are used as a strawberry-flavored vapor oil extract or as a nice herbal tonic or tea, there are a lot of choices ofs pleasant and beneficial way for any senior to use Cannabis and there are many good reasons for them to consider the already well-established benefits and proven safety of this natural medicine.

If you are in the Cannabis business, you need to be asking yourself how your products can help make life better for all these people.

Good, relevant information is critically important for caregivers, and seniors who are being cared for, as well as for independent seniors, and for families to come to terms with any issues that seniors in the family have that are preventing them from benefitting from this powerful, safe and effective natural medicine.

Caregivers should seek out “voices of experience” either among their personal networks or on the internet who can offer insights and practical tips for reluctant family members who should be, but are not contemplating the use of Cannabis as a natural medicine.

Among the important questions that Cannabis companies need to be ready to answer are:

Which Cannabis strains are best for helping with sleep, appetite, pain and discomfort, physical relaxation and mental alertness?

How can alternative Cannabis preparations be used to meet special physical needs and personal preferences?

What are some small but important ways that Cannabis can help recapture fading or lost pleasures – enjoying memories, socializing with others, listening to music, eating and drinking, watching movies and reading.

Caregivers deal every day with all the details that it takes to help keep the Cared-For person’s life running as smoothly as possible. It is truly remarkably most of them somehow marshal the energy needed to give the person they are caring for  far more than just maintenance – they somehow manage to provide close human contact, trust, warmth and caring.

Intelligent and sensitive use of Cannabis Flowers as a natural medicine can enable even more of that positive energy and spirit to flow between Caregiver and the person they are caring for, just as those same Cannabis Flowers also help treat pressing physical and emotional issues including sleep, appetite, pain and memory.


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Cannabis And The Broken US Health Care System

nofearxWith the ever-present exposure we all get to the modern health care system it’s easy to forget that all this technology is relatively new. Until a few years ago almost all Americans who could do so dealt with disease, illness, injury, impairment and old age in the context of a family and a community of friends and neighbors.

This isn’t a “good old days” fantasy about how things were always better in small-town America where everybody pulled together and cared about each other. In years past there were lots of people without friends or family who suffered and died alone – that’s one of the origins of the centralized health care delivery system, the urgent social need to care for the millions of people, many of them immigrants, who lay sick and dying alone in the city streets of the last centuries. Centralized health care institutions grew out of this core failure of the industrializing American system, when the very closeness of family and community which enfolded those in need was not available so many, for whom there was no alternative but the brutal poorhouse or dying alone in the streets.

But there were also tens of thousands of smaller cities, towns, villages and rural communities where few lay alone, whether sick or injured, where aging people were passed from family member to family member if need be, but were kept, and where the medical profession was an enormously useful adjunct to the family-based health care delivery system but was not the primary caregiver. These days are recalled as quaint by some modern docs who chuckle about the days of house calls, though many doctors still wish that they could make a decent living doing just that.

We live now in an age when care has become interpreted as technical intervention alone. When a person becomes seriously sick or gets badly injured or simply old and frail they are often removed from their family in a manner that brooks no interference. Medical emergencies convey license upon lifesavers who rush you to the central facility where you are handed over to technical specialists, who then take charge as you are transformed into a “case” or “patient”.

Your family or friends, if you have any, are reduced to huddling in a waiting room where they are visited from time to time and provided reassurance that you are in good hands and everything possible is being done.

If and when the emergency subsides you are then passed on to other specialists who apply whatever medical technologies they are familiar with and choose to use in the name of standard medical practice. Their choice of technology and strategy is determined by many considerations, and their motives are usually the highest, but their methods are not to be questioned, and there is literally no room for family or friends to function in the role of caregivers. They can come during visiting hours, and that’s it, because the institution is in total charge of care-taking, and their version of care-taking is how its going to be.

If the institution and the specialists can’t fix the problem you will be designated incurable and sent somewhere called a home, but probably not a home with your family in it, for long-term care. You generally won’t go with your family because they “aren’t able to take care of you”, meaning that there is no system to provide the resources that would enable them to take care of you at home. The systems that exist to provide and allocate society’s health care resources choose to allocate those resources to taking care of you in institutions which they administer and from which they profit, not to home-based alternatives which, while better and more cost effective for you, do not benefit them. They’re not evil, just doing what comes naturally, which means surviving at all cost.

If you recover you are released which means you are free to go, after dealing with the bill of course. You walk out to rejoin your family, if you are very fortunate, and maybe on the ride home in the car someone will ask you – ” So, how do you feel?”  Well of course you feel “fine”, and that’s about it. Everybody goes home and goes on with their lives until the next time they crash or drop or break or pass out and then it all begins all over again.

But are you healed by all this? Your disease certainly seems to have passed, your bones mended, your new organ functions perfectly, your heart beats. But what about how vulnerable, how violated, how isolated you feel even behind the pills you are given to “make you feel better”?

Given the institutional cultures of the current health care system, there is no “feeling better”.  The isolation and emotional and spiritual deprivation of the severely ill or merely very old person grows until death by loneliness becomes inevitable.

This is the precise point at which families of sick and elderly people ought to begin taking Cannabis seriously, because this marvelous little flower has the capacity, when given with loving hands to a sick or just plain old and worn out person, to not only treat but even to heal, and most certainly to make a difficult life more bearable. There is so much more to say about the Cannabis option, and I will be posting some of my thoughts on this in coming weeks and months.

But for the moment I simply want to say to all those who have already discovered the healing properties of this little flower of the Gods that you are on the right path, and my hope is that if there are others who you care for and love that you will be able to help them walk this same path to a better world. With no fear.


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Have Yourself A Fine, Dizzy Day!

Magic carpet w_guyGetting dizzy by spinning around and around until we all fall down is great fun for almost everybody when we are children.  As babies we get bounced and then spun around by loving adults, and we all laugh and have great fun, and we find ways to spin ourselves into dizziness whenever possible thereafter. Our playgrounds are full of great ways to get dizzy. We spin and drop and then watch the sky go round and round.

And then at some point in life we discover that sexual orgasm is the best way EVER to get dizzy! It starts with masturbation and proceeds in numerous directions. We all try to have sex as much as possible in order to get dizzy in different, exciting ways. Sexual dizziness is where we are at our most inventive.

Life is full of ways to get dizzy, and people have long ago found all of them. Religious rituals are a fave. Occasionally a new way to get dizzy comes along, and it is popular for a while. Dance crazes always incorporate new movements that make you dizzy in fun, different ways. Long before Rock ‘n Roll became White kids music it was how Black people talked about getting dizzy from sex. That’s why those gyrating Elvis hips stirred the beast in so many super-straight White folks.

Although none of the ways of getting dizzy last, while it does last being dizzy is fun. Unless it’s something disgusting like head in the toilet drunk dizzy …  but let’s all just forget about  the nasty stuff and think nice dizzy, fun dizzy, non-barfing dizzy.

My point – almost everyone, as a child, learns to love being dizzy. But then most children grow up adhering closely to sanctioned form of dizziness, and as adults we often deny that dizziness is what we’re seeking. “I just like a little taste of (wine, beer, margaritas). And I only drink with meals.” Sure. And by the way kids, you can’t get dizzy this way until you are mature and responsible adults. If you do, you’ll be punished.

There are many substances are adored by many around the world and hated by others because they create pleasurable states of dizziness. Cannabis. Opium. Cocaine. Meth. Alcohol. Some kinds of pleasure states are sanctioned by authorities, and some are banned. Some will cost you your life.

Who these authorities are, and where their authority comes from isn’t ever really clear, but they always seem to have the means to enforce their ban on whatever way of getting dizzy offends them. And of course they have their own, exclusive ways of getting dizzy – torturing prisoners, droning weddings, stealing elections, humiliating helpless victims. On and on, endlessly.

Doing evil shit that you get away because you have power and wealth with is a MAJOR dizzy. Making others suffer is very dizzying for plenty of people.

Still, we all know, even the anti-dizziness enforcers secretly know, that getting dizzy using simple, traditional methods like sex and drugs is and always will be one of the most personal, most delightful human experiences.

Which is why so many of us love Cannabis Flowers- because they are a very, very nice Dizzy. And those pretty little flowers can also be a very potent dizzy. And unlike alcohol drinkers, no Cannabis smoker pretends that getting high is secondary to the taste or aroma. And very few wind up with their heads in the toilet.

Sooooo, although anyone prone to falling down and going boom who still wants to get dizzy with Cannabis or anything else needs to find somewhere safe while they make themselves nice and dizzy, anyone who can still Boogie on while dizzy is free to go and have yourselves a very fine Dizzy day.

It’s just so human to enjoy being dizzy and high, isn’t it?

 


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Why Do So Many Seniors Fear Cannabis?

nofearxPeople in the Cannabis business know that people over 65 are perhaps the largest untapped market for their Cannabis goods and services, and the resistance of many of these Seniors is legendary, even in states where Cannabis is legal for all of their medical, spiritual, creative, and sensual needs. All over the US adults are trying to convince their aging parents to try Cannabis for some of the simple but terrible ills that plague their lives, but without success. It’s fear that is holding them back, and they have been made afraid deliberately.

Whether you’re in the Cannabis business, or you’re a concerned son or daughter, or maybe both, here’s why I think it is going to be hard to reach many of these older people with conventional thinking. Please leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts and experiences.

People in their late 40s/early 50’s today were toddlers just as the War On Drugs machine went into action. People who are in their 60s/70s today were those kid’s parents. They suffered the WOD propaganda machine running full bore through their psyche.

The War On Drugs worked through the schools by design, so parents and children in the 1970s were continuously subjected to the best behavior modification and propaganda techniques that tax money could buy, which continues quite pathetically today. And speaking of schools, who can forget Nancy Reagan and her screeching “Just Say No” contribution to the WOD of the 1980s. Those poor kids! Those poor parents!

The fear messages proved so effective in the 70s that they have been continually updated decade by decade ever since. Who can forget Crack in the Ghettos? Meth in the Hollers? And now, ta da, Heroin In The Burbs!

But wait! There’s something brand new that will really scare the shit out of you if drugs in the streets don’t do the job. Now we’re giving you Terrorism and Security to worry about. So just like parents in the 70s and 80s and onward permitted – no, insisted – on body searches and blood tests for drugs to keep their kids safe, they are now insisting on total surveillance of every school, to keep the kids safe.

Is the War on Terror any different than the War On Drugs? Well, the actual number of kids per year being killed by strangers, much less terrorists, in schools around the country has never ever been even close to the number of kids killed at home, nor in car wrecks. But using exactly the same “Assassin of Youth” fear tactics that proved so successful in terrorizing people for the War On Drugs, the War On Terror now has bombers and shooters lurking everywhere, and enough crazies are rising to the occasion, that American parents are in full-on fear. They are demanding universal surveillance and armed police in every school. And who can deny them – obviously America is under attack from obscure outside forces who will stop at nothing to destroy the American way of life. So giving up huge chunks of the American way of life in order to protect it from terrorists has once again been sold to the gullible public. And of course American entrepreneurs are ready and able to rise to the challenge of providing 100% security for everyone, and especially for the children.

So, with all this manipulation at every level for decades of their lives, is it any wonder that so many Seniors are, shall we say, leery of Cannabis?

Their raw numbers are huge, any way you cut it. Even segments of the potential, but non-responsive over-65 market for Cannabis products & services are huge. 43 million people live at home with full-time caretakers. That’s some 86 million people in 43 million households living with intense health issues hands-on, day after day.

Many of the things making life most difficult for these 43 million old, sick people and their 43 million caregivers, could be alleviated and even cured in some cases by judicious use of the right Cannabis strains, whether used as beverages, tonics, and foods or as medications, but often best taken by a puff or two of a beautiful Cannabis flower.

My wife and I cared for both our Mothers Laurie and Elizabeth for many years in our home, and we held Elizabeth’s hands when she died. I was also a single parent of a toddler son for years, so I understand what it takes to give care to another person. But I also had to learn to respect the personhood that remains strong even in someone who is growing older and sicker and further from life day after day, over many years, and not to make them feel helpless with my caregiving. Caregiving can be easily consumed with tasks that must be performed by all caregivers, many of them associated with small breakdowns of the body. For so many millions of older people at least some of these little but vastly debilitating health issues like sleep, appetite and mood, don’t have to happen as long as the caregivers, and those cared for, are able to understand the truth about Cannabis as a natural medicine, and equally important, if they understand the healing power of sensual pleasure and how this aspect of Cannabis can give crucially important parts of life back to them. Too many younger people simply assume that old, sick people have forgotten about, and don’t need, sensual pleasures in their lives.

So why don’t Seniors accept what Cannabis can offer them? Why are people over 65 the age group that is most resistant to using Cannabis for healing medicine, let alone for healing pleasure.

We all also know that almost all people over 65 have some level of daily pain, some trouble sleeping, some gut issues, and other conditions that copious amounts of pharmaceuticals aren’t helping, and in the Cannabis industry we know that the right strain of Cannabis used in the right way could treat and even help heal older people suffering in these ways.

The really short answer is – fear. But that fear is many-sided, and can’t be dismissed, or made illegitimate, or over-ridden, or even reasoned with or cleverly avoided by Cannabis growers and manufacturers that want to reach a nice-sized segment of these 100 Million and more fearful Seniors.

As we all know fear gets expressed in a lot of ways, but here are some of the most common ways that millions of Seniors express their fear of Cannabis.

My doctor will think I’m crazy for asking and might turn me in

The federal government still forbids it

It is against my religious beliefs. God forbids it

I don’t know anything about medical marijuana and I don’t want to look foolish

I’m afraid I’ll become addicted

My doctor will find out when they test my blood

I’m afraid I’ll fall

Only addicts and criminals use marijuana

I’m not convinced about marijuana’s medical usefulness

Each of these fears, and all the others so carefully planted and nurtured over decades, can best be addressed with love, compassion and careful questioning and listening. If you are in the Cannabis business, you will have to also address fears like these effectively in order to be successful with seniors. That will also require love, compassion and careful listening on the part of your company if you want to understand and address the largely unrecognized needs of this diverse, suffering group of people.

But if an older person who you love lives near you, and you live where medical Cannabis is legal, and if they are resistant, why not spend a little extra time thinking about why they are fearful. As you know, older people express fear in different ways. Think of what you can do to help them overcome that fear, which only they can do for themselves but which is a lot easier if you have someone you love helping and caring. It may be that one of the finest gifts you can offer to an older person you love would be to help them decide to bring pure, natural Cannabis Flowers into their life, to share a place alongside aspirin in the medicine chest and organic Tea in the pantry.

Some effective pain relief, at least a little better appetite, a little better sleep for sure, more fun listening to music, and more vivid dreams and memories.

From a simple flower? A gift.