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Hashtag Cannabis offers guided tours for seniors

Outside Hashtag Cannabis in Fremont. (Courtesy Hashtag Cannabis)
Outside Hashtag Cannabis in Fremont. (Courtesy Hashtag Cannabis)
Kate A. Miner EVERCANNABIS Correspondent
Many seniors enjoy group gatherings. Whether retired or not, mature adults often attend community workshops or seminars, and enjoy social events like cruises, museum tours and wine tastings. It’s a group that has more time to relax, but is also interested in staying active and healthy. With all that in mind, it’s not surprising that this demographic is curious about cannabis; in fact, it’s one of the fastest growing consumer groups. Even with Washington legalization, some in the 60-plus crowd are afraid to walk into a cannabis dispensary. But they are also curious about the health benefits, intrigued by the recreational aspects, and want to know if cannabis might be a healthier alternative to alcohol or prescription drugs. All of these reasons contributed to the popularity of a recent seminar at a senior community center in Wallingford called “Recreational Cannabis for Health and Happiness.” The sold-out seminar was offered by Hashtag Cannabis, a shop in nearby Fremont. “We find that most seniors have a passing familiarity with marijuana, some history from when they were young, or no knowledge at all,” said Christine Bryant Cohen, marketing director. “We were surprised how engaged they were, and afterwards they all wanted to buy something. We couldn’t sell it to them outside of the shop, but when we told them to visit the store, they seemed hesitant. Which is why we decided to start guided shopping for seniors.” Hashtag Cannabis in Fremont now offers guided visits on the second Wednesday of every month from 10 to 11 a.m. in an office space next to the shop. They market the classes to seniors, but anyone over 21 can attend. It’s free, and coffee is served. It’s a safe environment where potential consumers can ask questions about recreational and wellness-focused cannabis. After the class, staff takes guests into the store where they can spend as much time as needed to find the right product. Guests are under no obligation to buy; Hashtag emphasizes that education is the goal. “The No. 1 thing for seniors is being able to educate them,” Bryant Cohen said. “There’s a huge educational process at the beginning, and this lowers their anxiety and their apprehension. Often seniors ask about how cannabis will interact with other medications they’re taking. They also want to know if it can help them get off opiates, ease up on alcohol consumption, and whether they can function normally if they consume cannabis.” The guided tours at Hashtag usually draw about 5-10 people each month, and budtenders spend most of the time answering questions, like how to safely enjoy cannabis safely. Most seniors have no interest in smoking; they prefer edibles, capsules or topicals, or clean vaping methods. They’re intrigued by vaping devices, and a favorite seems to be the Magic Flight Launch Box. As this older demographic becomes more educated about the benefits of cannabis, businesses like Hashtag are wise to engage them. Although the millennials may make up the highest percentage of cannabis consumers, seniors may have a greater long-term interest. Recent reports show that while generic drug prices have declined, brand drug prices have almost doubled since 2008, and seniors on Medicare are the most affected. Instability in the pharmaceutical industry has led seniors to look for alternative solutions. Additionally, they have multiple health concerns, and marijuana and CBD are believed to help with several age-related health issues, such as arthritis, insomnia, osteoporosis and everyday aches and pains. Most significantly, seniors have more disposable income than younger generations. Baby Boomers with grown children, no mortgage payment, and a solid income or retirement savings are desirable customers. They’re also more likely to read print, shop locally and have free time for socializing. “We try to focus on community outreach as much as possible by making donations and sponsoring non-profit events,” said Bryant Cohen. “Helping seniors make educated choices about cannabis has been a wonderful addition to this outreach, and we’re happy to do it.”
Kate Miner has a degree in visual anthropology, and has worked in marketing and advertising for many years. She writes, takes photos and teaches yoga.
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