Forget Florida; Retirees Opting for Pot-Friendly States

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By Krystal Steinmetz

When you think of popular retirement destinations, Florida and Arizona likely come to mind.

But according to Reuters, some U.S. retirees are considering more than warm weather, good health care and close proximity to grandkids when deciding where to retire. Many American seniors are choosing to enjoy their golden years in a marijuana-friendly state.

Chris Cooper is a 57-year-old retired investment adviser from Ohio. He opted to retire in San Diego because California has legalized medical marijuana use. Cooper, who doesn't like heavy-duty prescription painkillers like Vicodin, told Reuters that marijuana eases his back pain and spasms.

"[Marijuana] stores are packed with every type of person you can imagine," said Cooper, who uses marijuana once or twice a week, often orally. "There are old men in wheelchairs, or women whose hair is falling out from chemotherapy. You see literally everybody."

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-A lot of the things marijuana is best at are conditions which become more of an issue as you get older.%More seniors are turning to marijuana to ease the aches and pains of aging. The most recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that marijuana use has increased among Americans ages 50 and older in the last 10 years.

"A lot of the things marijuana is best at are conditions which become more of an issue as you get older," Taylor West, deputy director of the Denver-based National Cannabis Industry Association, told Reuters. "Chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, loss of appetite: All of those things are widespread among seniors."

Although it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how many seniors are picking a state to retire based on its marijuana laws, Michael Stoll, a professor of public policy at University of California, Los Angeles who studies retiree migration trends, told Reuters that "there is anecdotal evidence that people with health conditions which medical marijuana could help treat, are relocating to states with legalized marijuana."

Oregon voters passed a ballot initiative legalizing pot in November. The state has since experienced a 5 percent jump in people moving there. United Van Lines data shows that the Mountain West, which also includes marijuana-friendly Colorado, "boasted the highest percentage of people moving there to retire," Reuters said.

Gray-haired retirees flocking to pot-friendly states is quite a divergence from the stereotype of the early 20s "pothead" who has no job, little ambition and lots of Cheetos.

But it's not quite so surprising when you consider that the retiring baby boomers were in college during the 1960s and 70s, when marijuana use was prevalent.

"In Colorado, since legalization, many dispensaries have seen the largest portion of sales going to baby boomers and people of retirement age," West said.

Are you surprised that many retiring baby boomers are migrating to pot-friendly states? Do you think pot should be legalized? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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