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I recently found myself with a cannabis conundrum. 

An unexpected death of a senior family member left us scrambling to get a number of affairs in order, as family tragedies often do. But an unanticipated problem arose. As the family’s only member of the cannabis industry, I was tasked with deciding what to do with a pound or so homegrown marijuana that she left behind. I wanted to save the herb. It was quite good – she had spent years as a farmer of crops both psychoactive and otherwise – but found that the only reliable form of long term preservation, nitrogen packing, can be quite expensive.

According to new research, this may become a more common predicament. A study recently published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found a substantial rise in cannabis use by senior citizens. 

While the study found that marijuana consumption among populations over 65 had nearly doubled, from 2.4% to 4.2%, the reasons for this rise are unclear. It’s possible that, in an atmosphere of legalization and increased public acceptance of marijuana, seniors citizens are being tempted into trying the devil’s lettuce for the first time. However, as the baby boomer generation has now aged into their 60s and 70s, it’s equally plausible that the increase is due to lifetime smokers from the hippy generation reaching the senior cohort.

This may have public health implications. 

While many states that allow legal marijuana consumption have rigorous testing protocols that ensure mold and other contaminants are not present in the herb sold through regulated dispensaries, black market cannabis remains untested. This presents a particular challenge to older smokers, who are more susceptible to the serious respiratory infections that such contamination can cause.

So remember: next time you see granny lighting up, it may be wise to suggest that she try a tincture or edible. We want to keep her stoned but safe.