The Great Mistake: Seniors & Overly Potent Legal Weed

May 6, 2021

by Winlaw Hall

What happens when seniors try some overly potent weed after 60+ years of straight living?

When Canada legalised cannabis in October 2018, you could smell the enthusiasm everywhere. But as the smoke cleared, it became clear that dedicated black market marijuana consumers wouldn’t be shopping at government-licensed cannabis retail anytime soon.

Part of the problem is the economic theory referred to as Pareto’s Rule, a law of economic behaviour that dictates 80% of the high-demand weed in any given market will be consumed by 20% of the consumers in that marketplace. That’s some serious cannabis consumption! And it helps explain why black market cannabis has such a tenacious hold on the Canadian cannabis consumer.

The Black Market vs Legal Dispensaries

To compete with this “quads-heavy” (i.e. quadruple-A) illicit market, Canada's online dispensaries, and burgeoning “brick and mortar” industry, like the Ontario Cannabis Store, or BC Cannabis Stores, began to feature potent, high-THC profile cannabis strains.

That move, to directly take on the 50-year-old black market, resulted in the curious, long-chain phenomenon we could name “the Great Mistake.” And it runs like this: legal weed leads to curious early adapter consumers flocking to cannabis retail and online dispensaries in Canada. Some of those curious are senior citizens, looking for some cannabis to maybe help with chronic pain, cancers, or to relieve the depression of living beyond the death of loved ones. But bud tenders and online dispensaries weren’t yet prepared for this market segment.

Related: Edibles Dosing: How Does It Work?

Seniors On Potent Weed

Already experts at advising consumers on how to roll a perfect joint, shatter prices, or the tastiest Kush strains, cannabis retail in Canada at that time didn’t have a clue that older folks would be coming through the door (or online platform) looking for Phoenix Tears (i.e. RSO), or a nice clean 1:1 THC:CBD to relax with before (or after) bed. No one saw it coming.

Old woman stoned on potent weed

No one, that is, until the data started to appear on Stats Cannabis (i.e. the Stats Canada cannabis data platform). It became apparent by 2019 that one of the largest segments of adapters to legal cannabis were Canadian women over 65. But by then, the Great Mistake had already been made.

Seniors had been persuaded by bud tenders to purchase high-THC cannabis products - and not just medicinal tinctures either. Or, perhaps even worse, when visiting online platforms like BC Bud Express and woefully uninformed, these seniors purchased some innocent-sounding Girl Scout Cookies, running at a stupefying (to them) 19% THC, 1% CBD. The result, as you can imagine, was catastrophic.

The tragicomedy of summit-blazed seniors isn’t as funny as it might sound. Many potential consumers were lost forever, as confused, panic-stricken elderly ended up in emergency wards or freaked out and calling their adult children for help. This happened to my mother. Fortunately, I had previously sent her a vial of pure CBD to help her sleep. She took a dropper full and came down off the ceiling in time for Saturday Night Live.

But the damage, as they say, was done.

Winlaw Hall, HotGrass

You've learned about old people smoking weed, now learn if you can smoke old weed.

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