Article by Ephrat Livni, Quartz
In April 2015, Carrie Tice was despairing over her 80-year-old mother’s advancing Alzheimer’s when a caregiver at her senior center in California recommended giving her a topical dose of marijuana. Many other drugs had failed, but the marijuana made her feel better immediately. She was more alert, more active and looked younger. By October last year, she had moved out of the senior center, and this year she moved in with her daughter in Mill Valley.
“The change in my mom was so remarkable that I wanted to shout it from the mountaintops,” Tice said. “She seemed 10 years younger after 20 minutes, and was happy.”
The experience inspired Tice to quit her job of 20 years at video game software maker Ubisoft and found a company that would supply marijuana to seniors, helping them navigate the state’s intimidating medical marijuana system. Since April 2015, Octavia, as the company was first called, has helped older seniors get doctor recommendations online and order weed products to ease their pain and help them sleep.
The service is needed because seniors often aren’t familiar with the many varieties of weed that can be used. Pot is for sale in many forms: flowers, edibles, oils, vaporizers, concentrates, tinctures, sprays, ointments, and more. “One time mom told me she preferred a tincture because it didn’t burn her eyes and I freaked out! She was supposed to put the stuff on her tongue!” Tice said.
In 2016, the company merged with a marijuana sales party company called Viva to form Octavia Wellness. The merged company in July began a pilot program at four elder care facilities in the Bay Area, holding gatherings to help residents with their weed needs. In one facility that Octavia Wellness serves, a secret cannabis club with 10 members had clandestinely smoked joints out on the adjoining golf course at night. Now, gatherings are officially sanctioned and standing-room-only, with 190 residents in attendance. The company also has clients from centers that allow brochures but not meetings. Next year it will sell products packaged especially for the elderly, with large type and extra instructions.