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Retirees Ease Aging's Aches At East Bay Senior Citizen Marijuana Club

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX) -- Across from the championship lawn bowling greens at an upscale, gated community in Walnut Creek, inside a clean, well-lighted clubhouse, there's a meeting going on.

Welcome to the Rossmoor Medical Marijuana Education and Support Club. About a hundred members are in attendance on this evening but they're not here to get high.

"Not at all! At my age? I'm going to be 88 and at my age if I got high what difference would it make? But I don't, I just don't," insisted club member Beverly Kivel.

These seniors are looking for an alternative solution to their medical problems.

"I had a massive stroke six years ago and I had residual trouble with sleeping and I decided to come and find out more about cannabis," said Paul Holland.

The club first met four years ago with just 20 members.

"We kept our group very quiet," said Renee Lee, president of the club.

Ten years ago, Renee had brain surgery but the cocktail of drugs she was then prescribed left her heavily medicated and debilitated.

"I couldn't walk a quarter of a block... I would fall down. I spent most of my time in bed," Ms. Lee recalls.

Then she decided to give medical marijuana a try.

"It was like a miracle cure," Renee said.

Eloise Theisen is a board-certified nurse practitioner who specializes in medical marijuana.

"Most of the patients I seen in my office are older -- the average age is 76," Theisen told us. "About 59 percent of them are coming to me for chronic pain and the other 35 percent is sleep(related) and the rest is a mix of anxiety, depression, cancer, Parkinson's, dementia, Alzheimers."

Not all members want to to be identified.

"The seniors still think of it as 'reefer madness,' many of them do," explained club member Doug Stites, 77, who wants to speak out. Stites says cannabis helps with his anxiety and stress. Like many seniors, Stites has congestive heart failure so he doesn't smoke pot. Instead, he uses a tincture.

"I take drops at night before bed and that allows me to sleep all night," Stites said.

The group meets once a month. On the night KPIX was there, San Francisco mayoral candidate Amy Farah Weiss, who works in the medical marijuana industry, gave the attendees a history lesson.

"We just have to move past the stigma and not 'just say no' with a N-O but just say 'know' with a K-N-O-W," Weiss said.

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