Chapter 3 - (2nd Edition)

[Formally Known as the "American Association of Retired Persons"]

Censorship Most Foul
The AARP Buckles Down and Tows the Line.

First, let it be said that the AARP is a private organization and as such has the right to do pretty much what its management feels is best for this group.   The reason for inclusion here lies NOT with their right to censor their own magazine, but with the role played by government in that decision.

WARNING: Due to continual silence on the part of the AARP over the matter, some of the following obviously constitutes objective opinion.   However, we cannot be held responsible for the actions on the part of the AARP, who by obvious policy have chosen NOT to address the matter. [1]   Whenever possible, we have tried to adhere as much to the facts as possible.

The following article best describes exactly what happened:
Feb. 25, 2005
Medical Washington -- At the beginning of February, AARP posted the findings of a poll they had commissioned on medical marijuana on their website.   The poll found that 72% of older Americans (45 and over) support an adult's right to use medical marijuana with a physician's recommendation.

A December 18th Associated Press article discussing the poll mentioned that AARP The Magazine was scheduled to release an article about medical marijuana in its March/April issue.   But when the March/April issue reached subscribers in late January, the article was conspicuously absent.

The editors had apparently pulled the article in response to malicious attacks by a "media watchdog" organization, Accuracy in Media, and a pressure campaign by fanatical anti-drug groups with a long history of engaging in malicious and dishonest attacks.   "We urge the editors of AARP The Magazine not to cave in to such attacks and to publish the medical marijuana article soon," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. -- "Ultimately this issue is not about medical marijuana but whether or not free and open discussion of issues that matter to AARP members will be censored and abandoned in the face of coarse attacks by disreputable forces."

The Drug Policy Alliance is encouraging its supporters (many of whom are also members of AARP), and all believers in freedom of the press, to send letters to AARP urging its leadership to stand firm.

Complete Title: Drug War Zealots Pressure ‘AARP The Magazine’ to Kill Medical Marijuana Story; Latest Censorship Campaign Initiated After AARP-Commissioned Poll Finds 72% of Older Americans Support Medical Marijuana

Contact: Drug Policy Alliance
Tony Newman, 646-335-5384
Elizabeth Méndez

Source: Common Dreams (ME)
Published: February 25, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Common Dreams
The facts as we see them are as follows:
  • Sometime around the middle of 2004 the editors of “AARP The Magazine” commissioned L.A. Times reporter Eric Bailey (who had a pretty good knowledge of the issue), to write a story dealing with the Medicinal Cannabis issue.

  • “AARP The Magazine” was originally suppose to publish the article sometime in late 2004 but decided to delay publication because they were afraid of influencing the outcome of the presidential election that was taking place during that time.

  • Even after the election “AARP The Magazine” continues to withhold publication, said stated reason, that they were conduction a poll among there members.   – Eventual results of the poll -- 72% of older Americans (45 and over) were in support an adult's right to use medical marijuana with a physician's recommendation.

  • December 2004 – The AARP comes under attack for the article – The group Accuracy In the Media, publishes the following: “From Pot to Porn to AARP: How the Seniors Magazine is Aiding the Dope Lobby,” [2] as well as other groups.

  • Feb. 2005, after more than six months of wailing for publication, its author asked the “AARP The Magazine” editor for permission to be allowed to publish the article elsewhere.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Through various grass roots groups (most having chain-email lists), news that the “AARP The Magazine” was going to carry an article on the subject of Medical Cannabis, which is how this museum curator became personally involved in the matter.
  • To everyone’s horror, we learned that the AARP was NOT going to carry the story but had decided to totally censor it.   Many of us were shocked and in a state of disbelief.   We had thought that the walls of jericho were coming down, and now this.

  • Many of us started contacting the AARP, we wanted to ask why?   I personally walked into an AAPR office to (politely) inquire about the matter and was told that unless I could show them the article (the one they had censored) that they simply couldn’t comment on the matter.
Eric Bailey (the author of the article), either writes another ‘similar’ article or finally obtained permission from “AARP The Magazine” to finally publish it somewhere.   [Due to copy-right laws only snippets shown here]
Elderly patients throw new wrinkle in marijuana debate [2B]
By Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times | May 8, 2005

“She is, at 81, a medical wreck and a miracle, surviving cancer, Crohn's disease, and the onset of Parkinson's.   Each morning Hiatt takes more than a dozen pills.   But first she turns to a translucent orange prescription bottle stuffed with a drug not found on her pharmacist's shelf -- marijuana.

. . . ''It's like any other medicine for me," Hiatt says, blowing out a cumulus of unmistakable fragrance.   "But I don't know that I'd be alive without it."

With the US Supreme Court poised to soon rule on whether medical marijuana laws in California and nine other states are subject to federal prohibitions, elderly patients such as Hiatt are emerging as a potentially potent force in the roiling debate over health, personal choice, and states' rights.

No one knows exactly how many elderly use cannabis to address their ills, but activists and physicians say they probably number in the thousands.   And unlike medical marijuana's younger and more militant true believers, the elderly are difficult for doubters to castigate as stoners.

Their pains are unassailable. Their needs for relief are real.   Most never touched pot before.   As parents in the counterculture '60s, many waged a generation-gap war with children getting high on the stuff.   Now some of those same parents consider the long-demonized herb a blessing.

. . . . A recent AARP poll indicated that 72 percent of people age 45 or older believed adults should be allowed to use cannabis with a physician's recommendation.   (The poll indicated a similar proportion staunchly opposed to legalizing recreational pot.)   Conservative elders such as commentator William F. Buckley and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz have supported marijuana as medicine.

Stories of suffering elders are not lost on John P. Walters, President Bush's point man for the war on illegal narcotics.   But as he beats the drum for psychotropic abstinence, the drug czar does not mince words.   "The standard of simply feeling different or feeling better" does not make pot safe and effective medicine, said Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.   People who abuse illegal drugs such as crack cocaine feel a similar burst of euphoria, he noted, "but that doesn't make crack medicine." . . .more . ..

Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 2005
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2005 Los Angeles Times
But try as we might the AARP still (to this day) refuses to publicly discuss the matter.

  • That the AARP bucked down and succumbed to external political pressure to censor the article.

  • That while the AARP is a private organization and thus fully within their rights to do so, they still did a great disservice to their members by avoiding ALL mention of a subject of great concern to their members.

This is one of the few times that we can report on a happy ending.   While the AARP still maintain a state of silence over the above incident.   As the following (headlines) from their own website shows they have now opened up quite a bit to reports about Medical Cannabis as it relates to senior citizens.
“Medical marijuana could become legal in Illinois” [3] Reprint Chicago Tribune | April 28, 2011 Todd Wilson

“Older Adults Increasingly Use Medical Marijuana for Nausea, Pain It's still controversial, even where it's legal” [4] by: Peter Jaret | from: AARP Bulletin | October 29, 2010

"A Choice Between Home and Medical Marijuana Treatment Use may affect federal housing voucher eligibility” [5] by: Michelle Diament | from: AARP Bulletin | January 1, 2011

“The Takeway: Half of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana; Would You Trust a Robo-Surgeon?” [6] Posted on 10/18/2011 by Elizabeth Nolan Brown // AARP Blog Author // 4 Comments

“Seniors' Medical Pot Collective Stirs Up Trouble” [7] by: Gillian Flaccus | from: Associated Press | June 8, 2011

“Oregon Court Rules Medical Pot Users Can Have Guns” [8] Reprint Associated Press | May 19, 2011
Granted a quick scan of ALL Cannabis related articles shows a distinct negative bias against Medical Cannabis.   But in the words of Frederick Douglas; “. . to a hungry man, half a loaf is better then none.”   Meaning just the fact that the AAPR has now changed its total blackout (aka censorship) policy is a great victory for individuals.   Showing that lone individuals, just lone individuals voicing their complaints (whether it was by telephone, email, or at meetings) have to power to challenge the power of mighty and well entranced groups who oppose the rights of Cancer victims.

[1] –
Note the AARP has been made aware of this website and have been given a chance to respond.
[2] – Accuracy In Media ; Dec. 29, 2004 ; From Pot to Porn to AARP: How the Seniors Magazine is Aiding the Dope Lobby


Due to space / download time considerations, only selected materials are displayed.   If you would like to obtain more information, feel free to contact the museum.   All our material is available (at cost) on CD-Rom format.