By Kathy Walsh

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Marijuana use in Colorado adults over age 65 has nearly doubled. According to a survey from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, usage among older adults jumped from 3 percent in 2014 to nearly 6 percent in 2017.

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(credit: CBS)

Some older people trying pot are finding it difficult to navigate the system.

“Half of me knew what was going on with me and the other half was having a good time,” Arlene Galchinsky told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

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Arlene Galchinsky (credit: CBS)

When Arlene first tried marijuana, she mixed an edible, high in what gets you high, and Vicodin.

“I was really, really high,” she said.

safe pot for seniors 6pkg frame 2935 ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

Arlene and Herb Galchinsky (credit: CBS)

So high, her worried husband, Herb, called 911.

“Scared the heck out of me,” said Herb Galchinsky, who is 80 years old.

Arlene, 79, has chronic back pain.

“She suffers with this daily,” Herb explained.

Arlene had used opioids for eight or nine years, but now Vicodin was barely working, so she turned to pot.

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File photo of marijuana. (Credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

“There should be a place for seniors as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Arlene wasn’t crazy about dispensaries.

marijuana ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

“It’s such a sleazy feeling to go into some of these places,” she said.

And young budtenders couldn’t really help a grandma looking for ganja.

“They were nice, but they don’t know what to do with seniors or ‘Here take this’ and I’m like ‘I’m not taking this, I don’t know what it is,'” Arlene explained.

safe pot for seniors 6pkg frame 1799 ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

(credit: CBS)

Arlene eventually consulted Danielle Fixen, a clinical geriatric pharmacist in the Seniors Clinic at UCHealth.

“With seniors in general, we like to use the phrase ‘start low and go slow,'” said Fixen, assistant professor, University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

safe pot for seniors 6pkg frame 1709 ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

Danielle Fixen (credit: CBS)

Arlene now uses an edible, a watermelon-flavored gummy, that has a 10 to 1 CBD to THC ratio. CBD is believed to reduce inflammation.

“Just having a little bit of THC activity but more of the CBD activity is helpful,” said Fixen.

safe pot for seniors 6pkg frame 2039 ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

(credit: CBS)

“This takes the edge off at least. It really does help,” said Arlene.

Are you now the ‘Ganja Grandma?’” asked Walsh.

safe pot for seniors 6pkg frame 1994 ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

(credit: CBS)

“I guess so,” said Arlene with a chuckle.

Arlene laughs about becoming the woman who knows weed. But for this woman in pain, it’s whatever works.

safe pot for seniors 6pkg frame 622 ‘Start Low & Go Slow’: Advice for Older Adults Buying Pot

(credit: CBS)

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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