Valley seniors consider medical marijuana for what ails them

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

With more states across the country legalizing medical marijuana, senior citizens are part of the fastest growing number of users.

At age 65, Darlene Repka-Smith works hard to keep up on her fitness.

"I swim and I bike almost every day," Repka-Smith said. "I eat really healthy."

Despite her best efforts, the snowbird from Canada, now living in Mesa, struggles with pain.

"I've had inflammation for a long time," she said. "I'm always stiff and sore -- have been for probably 20 years."

After years of using Tylenol with the opioid codeine, she's considering medical marijuana as an alternative treatment.

"Many of my friends, 55 to 70, do smoke marijuana," Repka-Smith said.

"When they start understanding the side effects of the pharmaceuticals that folks are taking, and they find out that they can use this natural remedy, it's just so helpful and they're getting their health back, and that's what's important," said Kathy Inman, executive director of Mom Force AZ.

The nonprofit, whose mission statement is to "provide cannabis education, harm prevention and natural wellness," holds monthly community meetings at Red Mountain Multigenerational Center in east Mesa for seniors like Repka-Smith.

Inman said the goal is to clear up any misconceptions about medical marijuana and help seniors get well, without the use of highly addictive prescription drugs.

"And that's so important because we lose 10 kids every month in Arizona to these opioids that are falling out of our medicine cabinets because so many people are overprescribed," Inman said.

Repka-Smith's goal?

"In a year's time, I hope I'm here saying to you I'm not on any meds," she said.

Interested seniors most go through an approval process before being issued a card used to obtain medicinal marijuana. This can cost up to $300 yearly. Even with the card, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

The next community meeting hosted by Mom Force AZ will be Feb. 15 at The Monastery neighborhood pub in Mesa.

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