The healing benefits of cannabis mean that it is used for medicinal reasons by older generations such as pain relief and immune system support. Interestingly, it is also the Baby Boomer generation that typically have the greatest pre-formed prejudice against the drug. Researchers will tell you that this is because these are the people who have been brought up to believe the deceptive stories that marijuana is an evil weed that must be outlawed. It would seem that among the Baby Boomer generation at least, there is a split: those who think that cannabis is a dangerous drug, and those who use it and believe in its healing properties.
Researchers at the Institute for Scientific Analysis in San Francisco have just published a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review in which they questioned 97 marijuana users—all of which were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. The participants were asked about their cannabis history and their personal perception of the drug.
The study, titled, “A safer alternative: Cannabis substitution as harm reduction,” concluded the majority of participants replied that they thought of cannabis as a good substitute to pharmaceutical drugs and other forms of prescribed medication. There was also the general consensus that marijuana has fewer side effects, and many of the participants were proud of the fact that they use a natural weed to effectively manage their symptoms of pain.
Overall, the researchers reported that, for people who need to use some form of drug to manage a condition, cannabis is thought to be a safe and effective medication. Furthermore, they suggested that, when formulating evidence-based, patient centered treatment programs, findings such as these should be taken into account.
It stands to reason that, as cannabis use loses its stigma, and the weed’s benefits are unearthed to a greater extent, we are going to see more and more doctors and healthcare professionals paying attention to research such as this.
What does this mean for cannabis tourism?
Baby Boomers are one of the largest traveling generations, and this is a big deal for cannabis accommodations. According to AARP travel research, every Boomer will take an average of four to five trips per year in 2015. More than half of American Boomers will only travel to other parts of the United States, but the majority aspire to visits Europe as well. The top scoring reasons for travel were listed as experiencing new places, visiting family and friends and, most of all, relaxing.
The “relaxing” part is big for Boomers. AARP reports that in order to find relaxation and peace of mind, travelers are most likely to pack the following items: prescription medication, sunglasses, comfortable shoes and a camera. Another industry analysis reported that travel polled as Boomers number one preferred activity, and that around $157 billion is spent on trips each year.
This has implications for the travel and tourism industry, because as a greater percentage of this generation accept cannabis use, and understand how it can be of a great benefit to them, more jet-setters will be seeking cannabis-friendly accommodations. Older travelers will need a place to stay where they know they can continue their treatment, especially since many medicinal marijuana patients are wary of being forced to return to prescription drug use.
In fact, there might soon be a time where not allowing a guest to adhere to their medication plan will render a host’s space as less attractive—and therefore, less competitive. The medical setting is changing, and as medicinal marijuana gains ground on pharmaceutical drugs, all industry sectors should be paying attention as to how they need act in order to accommodate cannabis use.
By Tabitha Farrar