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  • Abby Stoddard, PharmD,MBA

The Coast to Coast Boomer Perspective: Patricia A. Patton of Canna Boomer

I am so happy to bring you one final interview just in time to close out the first year on The Client Corner Blog. For our last post we have a new guest and a new format that we will be experimenting with in 2021.


I was so fortunate to sit down (virtually) with Patricia A. Patton, aka. The Canna Boomer for our last post of the year. We talk about her experience as a Boomer in the new legal market, her thoughts on misconceptions about Boomer cannabis users, and what the future holds for cannabis access. You can read the more about Patricia and listen to our conversation by clicking play below. We have also included a full transcription of our conversation so you can listen, read, and share in any format you like.


A huge thank you to Patricia and to all of the guests on The Client Corner in 2020 - you have make this site an amazing resource for patients and providers alike!


More About Patricia:

Patricia A. Patton is a world traveler, experienced marketing professional, blogger, coach, podcaster and one of the nation's leading experts on Boomer Reinvention. She is the woman also known as The Canna Boomer, a reliable, curated source of cannabis information for the older market.

Find her at https://cannaboomer.net/ or https://patriciaapatton.com/ .


You can also read her eBook 'Asking for a Friend: A Boomer's Journey into the New Cannabis Landscape' or listen to her podcast Me & Mary Jane.

Find her on Instagram or LinkedIn.


Click Here To Play Our Interview:

Full Interview Transcription:

AS:

Cannabis medical and adult use programs have been being created, expanded and growing nationwide since the early 2000s. This rapid growth has seen an explosion of marketing tactics aimed at just about everybody. The craft enthusiast, the soccer mom, the 20 something heavy dabber, the yoga nut. In the midst of all this activity, the voice and experience of baby boomers, still one of the largest living generations, can be difficult to hear. In November 2019 in an article in Cannabis Dispensary magazine, author Jolene Hanson dispelled myths about this group finding that while many use cannabis to cope with aches and pains 60% of their purchases were also for recreational or social use. Other key findings were that boomers expected personalized professional service and they're looking for the industry to educate them. In Oregon, which has one of the most mature adult use cannabis programs in the country, the Oregon Health Authority marijuana factsheet from 2019 found that current cannabis use among those aged 65 or older has almost tripled between 2014 and 2017. As more states transition from prohibition to medical to adult use, we expect more and more boomers will be brought into the market. Boomers have one of the most unique positions in the current climate. They may not be cannabis naive, but they're now thrust into a new normal of cannabis retail that is hungry for millennial follows, likes, and of course dollars. That's why I am so excited today to have Patricia Patton, also known as the Canna Boomer, with me to give us her take on the Boomer voice and how it fits into this market and how it might be being missed by some brands. So thank you so much for being here Patricia - hello!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and about Canna Boomer?


PP:

Well, I am Patricia A Patton. I was born in Seattle, Washington, which is where I grew up. And it's also where I went to school. I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in romance linguistics. But I haven't lived in the Pacific Northwest now, really, since - I really haven't lived there since the 70s. Actually I was in Oregon going to law school for a minute in the 70s, but I've lived on the East Coast since 1980. And right now I live in the state of New Jersey. I have been interested in the hemp and cannabis arena - plant medicine, you know, as an aging baby boomer, I've been interested in longevity and in change and innovation. And so I've watched these different industries, you know, become part of our everyday life. And I feel that cannabis is another one of those that we are experiencing enormous change in the area of medicine and plant medicine. Most of what I've done since I left my nine to five job 16 years ago, has all in some way or another have been associated with health and wellness. You know, we boomers were gifted, I believe, some of us were gifted with additional 25 years of life - but what's important about having 25 years of life, you know, in the longevity sense of the word is that we want that to be a healthy life. And that's one of the reasons that I pulled myself, you know, out of a lot of the propaganda that I consumed as I was aging, went to Colorado in early 2018 to a woman grow conference to see if I could figure out what was going on with cannabis. And I want to be informed. I want to be able to make decisions about my health and I don't think that they should only be about end of life. I think that they should be about the quality of life. I mean, I was in San Francisco in 1968. I dropped out of college I moved from Seattle to San Francisco I live on the corner of Haight and Laguna so I was there after the summer of love and when people shared joints on the streets with other people. And, and then I became a citizen and a parent. That's ridiculous, right? I became a citizen. I mean, I became like, super straight, you know, I became straight. And I didn't want people to know that I had any interest whatsoever in anything that was illegal, because I stood to lose lots of things. You know. So me expressing an interest in cannabis three years ago, was it was a bit of a, I took a chance, in a way. I mean, it wasn't really a chance, but I did what I've done most of my life, I just sort of moved toward the things that I was interested in. And it occurred to me at some point, you know, my parents are deceased. I make my own living. And I didn't really have to worry about what somebody thought, you know. So I felt free enough to go and try and figure out what was going on in cannabis. Whether it's something that I could use, you know, possibly to enhance my income, could I figure out how I could improve the quality of my own life with this medicine? And and that's essentially what I've come to believe that cannabis is medicine. And that's why Canna Boomer is focused on the canna curious and the returning baby boomers in particular, who are interested in hemp, cannabis and plant medicine.


AS:

Given your background of not being cannabis, inexperienced, you're out in New Jersey, New Jersey's had a medical cannabis program for the last 10 years. What's been your experience or interaction with the program? Like when people ask you about it? Is it a positive interaction? Is it is it easy to use? What's been your experience from that?


PP:

Okay, so this is just my experience. And that is that I've had a medical marijuana card now for not quite a year. And it wasn't difficult to get, you know, in the state, essentially. And I found this out from going to a conference, you know, that there was a list of doctors on a registry that you could if you had one of the qualifying conditions that you would be approved. And once our governor came into position, almost three years ago, one of the things that he said he was going to do immediately was to make cannabis, recreational adult use cannabis legal, which he was not able to do. And so what he did was expand the qualifying conditions. And so chronic back pain, you know, became one of those qualifying conditions. And I was able to, without much questioning or anything like that, I mean, there was nothing to prove, basically, I have a chronic condition. If I decide in consultation with one of the doctors who is on the registry for the state of New Jersey, that, you know, I should be entitled to try cannabis because that's what I want to do, then that's kind of the end of the story. The program in and of itself in terms of my experience and my use is that okay - I started before COVID the closest one to my house is in Cranberry, New Jersey, which is about a 40 minute drive.


AS:

That's a far drive!


PP:

Yeah, it is. I live on the Jersey Shore in Asbury Park. And the first time that I went there, in terms of their procedure, there are people I don't know what their actual job title is, but you have a consultation with someone. And I didn't really know what to expect. But I talked to a young woman really nice. She asked me the questions - I think my doctor may have asked me this but he didn't make any recommendations - she recommended, something that the dispensary carried, which makes sense. Except if I were to advise people about that whole experience, I would at the very least tell people to visit the website beforehand, so that you would know what products the dispensary carried so that you could have an intelligent conversation with the person who, who you were going to talk to, to was trying to suss out, you know, are you here for any particular reason? You know, my concern was sustained sleep, I want some guidance on do you have a product that would help me stay asleep, I have no problem falling asleep. Because what happens is that the younger budtenders tend to make recommendations about products that would get you high and put you out. And that's not what I'm looking for. You know, so there's a difference between being high and passing out, and, and good sleep. But I mean, I think that the state program, what the state program needs is to find a way for dispensaries to be more progressive, since they are the ones making money. I think they are the ones who should actually have more programs for their medical patients, medical patients need fundamental information. And that needs to be ongoing. I mean one of the - I'm working on a piece now - and that piece is about where do you go? If you're a medical patient? Where can you get ongoing medical consultation that's affordable or free?


AS:

Yep. Yep. I've heard you talk on your podcast about that a bit. And I think that's so important. And I'll link out to your podcast, especially the episode where you talk about is it Leaf411? Yes. So you recommend, you know, looking at the dispensary website before you go, and maybe reaching out to someplace like Leaf411. My next question, which kind of you've touched on a bit - for example, when I talk to people like my parents about this, they're a little bit intimidated. In that, "I'm going to walk into the dispensary and I'm not going to understand a word that they're saying". Even though, you know, they like you, are not totally naive in the space, but they're like, this is just not built for me. So other than, you know, looking at the website and resources like Leaf411 are there certain things that surprised you or words you've never heard before? Or certain dose forms or vocab that people might be surprised by like, "Oh, I didn't know they had it like this now", when you were at the dispensary?


PP:

Yeah, I, um, it's still a bit of a mystery to me. You know, I was in California, maybe last year, and I went into Med Men, and I was not exactly sure what I was looking for. I mean, I had been in conferences, where people talked about Blue Dream, you know, and so I had the impression from the conversations and the people who were talking that maybe this would be something that will work for me, because, you know, I'm just shooting in the dark, you know, because people want to know, well, what are you looking for? Do you want OG Kush, or do you want you know, I mean, listen, I have no idea, you know, I have no idea. So then I started trying to pay attention to the relationship between the amount of THC in the actual cultivar then I go in and people start saying, "Oh, it's not a Sativa", and now everyone's talking about terpenes. And they're talking about cultivars instead of strains. And so it's a shifting landscape. And if you go into an adult use dispensary, there isn't really anybody to talk to. I mean, I think the first one I went to was I went to pure simple. No - Simply Pure in Colorado went to Simply Pure in Colorado. That was my first visit. And I was hiding behind a 30 year old, you know, like a teenager saying, ask them this. Ask them that.


AS:

Then you were 'asking for a friend'?


PP:

Yes, I was 'asking for a friend' at that point. But what I noticed was, they had a line for medical. Hmm, well, there was a, there was a space for medical. And then it was a tiny space, but you could see the idea was there. So you could go there if you were a medical patient and actually get some advice.


AS:

Hmm. I like the idea. Yeah, the intent at least being there of spending a little more time with people who are looking for something like you say that they're going to use more consistently for something like sleep, you know, that they want to be the same and be more predictable than a recreational experience? Right.


PP:

I mean, even though I said that, I really do believe that - and there's there is, there are statistics that say - that one in five people don't distinguish any differences between, you know, medical and wellness, you know. From the beginning, you know, like, when you when you really investigate your intention, you know, the intention is more wellness. In my case, and, and certainly for a lot of baby boomers, I know that it has nothing to do with not wanting to feel good, but your intention is to try and meet some wellness goal.


AS:

You've been all over the country on this, um, you know, as you just said, and are at conferences on this all the time, you know, as the industry progresses, you know, from the, from the Canna Boomer perspective of trying to help the industry understand what the boomer audience values, you know, what, what do you see, is missing, and you've touched on a little bit briefly, you know, in terms of education, and the dispensary experience, but, what else? What do you see as big missing pieces that the industry is not getting?


PP:

Well, two things - one, like you said, education. Basically knowledge and experience will continue to unlock decades of stigma that has taken shape, and so the basics of cannabis education are still required for all of us. I think the biggest problem for my demographic is that one, there doesn't seem to be a real, there seems to be, let's put it this way. There seems to be a very simplistic understanding of who we are, when we see images of a demographic that spans you know, 55 to 73 years of age, like we're not the same. You're not the same person, as a 55 year old, even as a 60 year old. I mean, at 55 you're still identifying with people who are 40. Yeah. I mean, by the time you're 60, you start to realize like, maybe I have to look forward, you know.


So in that sense, I think that the that brands are making a big mistake in lumping us together as individuals who are primarily interested in solving sleep and pain problems. Because, you know, I am an athlete, I might be approaching my seventh decade, but I'm an athlete! I ride long distance, my friends ski, they play tennis, you know, they walk and so in many ways, the same solution that you may have for a retired 40 year old basketball player may be applicable for me too, because my cartilage is not any worse than his.


What we want to know is that you see us. We are not, you know, single dimension, you know that we have other desires, interests and whatever, don't forget, we're baby boomers. Right. So we did have unusual experiences, you know, as we aged, and those, those, those particular proclivities are not lost in old age, you know, we still want a brand to be mindful of the environment, we want them to be interested in the problems that we're trying to solve. And we want you to talk to us, and I'm particularly interested, because as a black woman, who has lived through a medical system that hasn't really treated people of color that well, you know, like, we've really had to keep our eye on the ball, with the profession, generally speaking. It's really important, I think that I, that I stand up and I talk and that I make people understand that it's okay to not know, it's okay to be interested. Because you can decide for yourself whether you want it or not, I'm not saying consume or not consume, I'm saying, be informed.


AS:

This is the Canna Boomer crystal ball question. And so you've again, you've seen this in a bunch of states, states like California, Colorado, that have more, more mature markets, and now you're on the Jersey Shore, New Jersey. So last, these last couple months, they passed a ballot initiative for adult use, the state is now in the process of putting together the legislative process that actually implements that and makes that happen. If you had a crystal ball, five years into the future, what do you think the Jersey Shore is going to look like in adult use cannabis? How do you think things are going to change?


PP:

This is my favorite question. Because I'm really a Faith Popcorn fan, you know? Okay, crystal ball. Let's see, well, of course, there will be wider acceptance of cannabis as medicine, I think that we will be able to that there will be better relationships between doctors and patients. You know, I have an internist that I love dearly. But she won't talk to me about cannabis. And so, I would love to be able to integrate, you know, my concerns so that I could have her input.


I think that there will be kind of a switch in the focus of what baby boomers buy that there will maybe, you know, we'll start buying more transdermal patches. I think we'll be interested in beverages also. I mean, with especially with these new nanotechnologies, you know, where, you know, you can have something that, I don't know if it would be called that it's spiked, but it's enhanced and enhanced beverage that you could drink. That wouldn't be psychrotrophic. But would, you know, make you feel good.


AS:

I like that, too. That's a good category. It because in you see, you see some of that - not in every state - but CBD beverages trying to do the same thing.


PP:

Right. Right. And honestly, the other thing I was thinking about because this is a problem, in my mind, I don't know how this is gonna work out, maybe there will, there will be some sort of uniformity by state when it comes to the laboratory. Because, you know, right now, there is no uniformity between states about what each lab requires seed to sale people to have. And so it'd be nice to have uniformity that way. So that'd be one less thing to worry about.


AS:

I would hope that we see that more. And I know, you know, when you get into, you know craft cannabis and very particular types of cannabis medicine. It's not always is a good thing. But I think the industry could use a lot more uniformity and predictability in terms of product, including the testing.


PP:

Right. I also think that there will be opportunities when it comes to canna tourism, like I worked in tourism, for 18 years for the Belgian government in New York City. I was part of the marketing team for North America. And so I anticipate there being really good opportunities for canna tourism, because people who consume, I mean, moving from state to state doesn't mean you don't want to consume and you want to be somewhere where you can do that or where, you know, you're not going to be hassled about that, or let's say you travel, and you want to be in an environment where that is accepted. And you can consume, you know, or you want to have like a really good experience. You know, because there are wineries in New Jersey there is horse country - I mean, New Jersey, it's, it's a weird state, but it is a weird state, there's no doubt about that, you know.


I mean, I lived in New York many years, but I've been quite happy here in New Jersey, you know, a few blocks from the ocean. I think canna, tourism is going to be a huge one. And New Jersey's behind the west coast in a lot of the ancillary products that can come out of an industry. But with the proximity to New York, I expect that we are going to benefit from people who are in New York who will come through New Jersey going to Philadelphia, Washington, DC, you know, it's just like a worn path between the several States.


AS:

Where can we find you and learn more?


PP:

Well, the easiest place to find me - well, you can find me really on a number of places. I'm on most of the platforms. I am canna_boomers on Instagram, and you'll see my face. There's somebody else who is taking advantage of the name, but you'll see that I'm active there. And the podcast is Me and Mary Jane. So you might want to check some of that out. This was our first season. And we are up to - we have one more in the 10 episodes to do before the end of the year. But it's been that's been very, very interesting as well. My website is patriciaapatton.com or cannaboomer.net, they're intertwined with each other. When we could travel, I also had an initiative it's my passion project called dream yourself awake. All these things are come under the umbrella of health and wellness. So I'd love to see you at any of them. Please feel free to listen, like and share, subscribe to the newsletter, or just give me a shout out on LinkedIn or Facebook.



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