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Cannabis Stories: Jan Baker

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Jan Baker: “I never thought I’d be able to buy cannabis in a dispensary”

Jan Baker of Pittsburgh recalls first trying cannabis in the 1970s when it became popular in her social circle as a teenager. Although Jan said she enjoyed cannabis socially back then, the 65-year-old stopped consuming for years, too busy raising a family to engage with the unregulated black market and the risks associated with it.

Today, Jan consumes cannabis once again – this time to help her gain more restful sleep and manage pain related to arthritis in her hands. And this time, she doesn’t need to contend with an unregulated market; she visits Ethos to buy products in a knowledgeable, safe, and friendly environment. 

Jan is just one of the many older adults who consume cannabis for relief. This is what she had to say about legalization and how cannabis offers her relief.

Q: Did you ever think you’d see cannabis legalized in your lifetime?

Jan said the difference between the regulated market and her experiences buying cannabis in the ’70s is “amazing.” The idea of a licensed dispensary, back then, was inconceivable, she added.

“I never ever thought I could walk into a store with a card with my picture on it and [buy cannabis],” she said. “In today’s world, it’s normal. Now that I’ve got Ethos, it’s close to home, the drive is easy, parking is plentiful, it’s very secure. I place my order, walk in to get it and then I’m out of there.”

“It’s really amazing, because in the 1970s when marijuana became very popular … it was all alleyways or driving around in someone’s car and spraying air freshener,” she added. 

Q: How do you find relief consuming cannabis?

Jan said she primarily consumes cannabis for relief from arthritic pain, as well as to help regulate her sleep each night.

“As I’ve gotten older, my sleep patterns have really changed,” she said. “I also have very heavy arthritis in my knuckles and my hands. My doctor has told me he could give me medication, but that I’m young enough that if I keep using my hands it will be good for me … but that causes pain.”

Cannabis flower, particularly indica strains, alleviate her pain and help her to sleep for hours at a time, she said, something that has been difficult for her in recent years. 

“When I inhale flower cannabis, immediately my pain is alleviated in my knuckles,” she said. “I like smoking indica flower for sleeping a solid four to five hours, and that’s more than I’ve slept in years.”

Q: Do you have a favorite product you’d recommend to someone to try?

When it comes to favorite product type, Jan said cannabis flower is her go-to choice. She prefers relaxing strains for sleeping, and high-CBD flower for pain management.

“Flower seems to help me the most and, believe me, I’ve tried it all,” Jan said. “I tried CBD oil and in the beginning it really helped a lot with my hands. But then it seemed like the more I used it, the less it helped. But then I spoke with a friend about cannabis flower.”

“I spoke with [an associate at Ethos – Pittsburgh West] and explained what I was looking for — He recommended indica flower for sleep and anything high-CBD for managing my pain,” she added.

Now, Jan said, she uses both to manage different symptoms at different times, obtaining the relief she struggled to find for years before trying cannabis. When other older adults tell her they never considered cannabis, Jan said she suggests they give it a shot.

“I have found the best way to change someone’s mind [about cannabis] is just to get them to try it for themselves,” Jan shared. “Some people don’t want to cross that line, but some people do try it and decide it’s not so bad. They might have a backache but smoke a joint and realize it feels better for an hour.”

An evolving relationship with cannabis

For Jan, cannabis consumption was once about fun and socialization. Today, it’s more about wellness and relief. But just as her relationship with cannabis has evolved in its own way, society is reevaluating its broader relationship with cannabis, finding ways to connect with, and consume, the plant for healing, mental well-being, or simply to enjoy a night off.

As older adults can attest to, the culture – and the stigma – surround cannabis are changing, too. Every consumer has a unique cannabis journey like Jan’s, especially the older adults who lived through decades of prohibition and are now flocking to the legal industry. As a dispensary, our goal at Ethos is to give Jan and other “returning” consumers like her the information they need to make the best choices for themselves.

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