Part 1 of 2
Coming Wednesday: Meet a medical marijuana coach
Last Christmas, Barbara Kaiser slid to her kitchen floor and just sobbed.
The 82-year-old Green Valley woman had spent decades baking hundreds of cookies for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the holidays, but this year, the pain won. She just couldn’t do it anymore.
Her arthritis and chronic neuropathy were so bad it took her 15 minutes to get out of a chair. She couldn’t stand upright and needed a walker just to hobble a few feet.
She couldn’t sleep more than two hours at a time.
“I wasn’t suicidal, but I started wondering why I was waking up every day. Why did I bother? The pain was just amazing,” Kaiser said.
Fast forward seven months and she’s no longer using her walker for short distances, she’s back to baking cookies and making dinner, and she’s cut her daily Oxycontin intake by one-third. She’s also sleeping through the night.
“It’s incredible and I want people to know about it,” Kaiser said during a recent interview at her home. “I’m a perfect example of what it can do.”
Kaiser is among a growing number of older residents in Arizona turning to medical marijuana to deal with issues including chronic pain, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, cancer and more.
Just over 132,000 Arizona residents have medical marijuana cards; more than 18,000 are in Pima County, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
According to the state, roughly 22 percent of current card holders are 61 and older, up from the roughly 13 percent who held cards in 2011.