You’ll never guess who’s getting stoned these days.
Here’s a hint: It’s the same feisty flower children who once wore bell bottoms, decided almost everything was “far out,” and campaigned to ban Red Dye No. 2 in M&Ms.
Friends, look to your left and right, and try to focus: Yup, it’s us.
An Associated Press story in Newsday said marijuana retailers consider “aging baby boomers or those a little older” the fastest growing segment of their customer base. “It’s like the ultimate senior experience,” declared one enthusiastic customer.
Pop-Pop and Grams are munching marijuana-infused caramel bars, sipping beverages laced with weed and putting Mary Jane drops under their tongues. They’re even vaping the stuff, if you can believe it. The Summer of Love is long gone, so why not a slightly wacky Winter of Discontent?
Most senior citizens use grass for medical purposes — chronic pain, sleeplessness, postoperative issues — and buy their stash in states where marijuana is sold legally.
At the Bud and Bloom marijuana dispensary in California, Adele Frascella, 70, told the AP she eats cannabis-laced gummy candies to relieve her various aches.
In the old days, Frascella said, she used pot for less medicinal purposes, and, perhaps in a moment of nostalgia, a few years ago bought a high-tech bong called a “volcano.” But now she’s not trying to feel groovy, Frascella said, just get a little relief. “I don’t like to take an opioid.”
Sometimes seniors get their pot at retirement centers during bingo games, and one can imagine dewy-eyed contestants chuckling with every announcement of letter and number.
“N-43!” rejoices a player, moving her marker to G-55 while others try to remember the words to “One Toke Over the Line.”
OK, just kidding.
Taking a marijuana gummy to kill that awful shoulder cramp — why not?
Maybe I’d do the same.
Back in the Age of Aquarius, I never used grass much.
I had trouble inhaling — Bill Clinton and me — and, more to the point, pot was illegal and, I didn’t want to become the first in my family to spend a night in jail.
Cheech and Chong were gleefully going up in smoke, but it wasn’t my scene. Once I proved it by mistaking a plastic pouch of oregano for a nickel bag of marijuana. Oh, how the crowd laughed.
But, OK, there were a couple of experimental evenings that — vaguely — I can recall.
In one case, a short ride home from Bayport to Blue Point seemed to last longer than a recent road trip to California.
At a party, someone passed around a joint. To the best of my ability, I managed maybe three drags. I laughed with gusto at nothing in particular, searched for meaning in a Grateful Dead poster and woke up the next morning with a headache.
There also was the time I hesitantly sampled what was hailed as a powerful “score’ from Hawaii. A single searing lungful was enough. I tried to speak, but the words came out sort of upside down. My hosts smiled knowingly and continued smoking. After a lengthy search, I found the front door and tried to say “goodbye” in the proper order.
That’s about it. Honest.
While I lacked the requisite skills or temperament, we knew people who were masters of mellowing out.
One couple turned on every night. Talking to them anytime after was like being at the United Nations without a translator.
“Hey, how you doin’?” I might ask.
“Wow,” they might reply. “That’s a heavy question, man — deep.”
Another friend used grass well into middle age. He favored marijuana brownies and indulged for years and years. At last, in his 60s, the fellow reformed — more to trim his waist than clear his mind. “Have to get in shape,” he said.
Recreational pot is legal in 10 states and medical marijuana allowed in 33, according to the Business Insider website. Recent decriminalization moves in New York and New Jersey have stalled momentarily, but public opinion polls show most Americans are ready to just say yes.
That’s OK, I guess, though at this point — medical necessities aside — I can’t imagine enlisting in Marijuana Nation.
As it is, I am apt to forget why I have ventured from living room to kitchen. Remarks I consider brilliant draw baffled “what’s-up-with-Dad?” stares from the children. The ATM sometimes stumps me when inquiring as to my PIN. Getting zonked? Seems imprudent.
Be on guard, pals. Once it was a compliment if someone deemed you “far out.” It might not mean the same thing, anymore.
For more Act 2 stories, visit newsday.com/Act2.