Joe Schwartz is a 90-year-old great-grandfather of three who enjoys a few puffs of pot each night before he crawls into bed in the Southern California retirement community he calls home.
The World War II veteran smokes the drug to alleviate debilitating nausea and is one of about 150 senior citizens on this sprawling, 18,000-person gated campus who belongs to a thriving — and controversial — medical marijuana collective operating here, in the middle of one of the largest retirement communities in the United States.
The fledgling collective mirrors a nationwide trend as more and more senior citizens turn to marijuana, legal or not, to ease the aches and pains of aging. But in Laguna Woods Village, tucked in the heart of one of the most conservative and wealthiest counties in California, these ganja-smoking grandparents have stirred up a heated debate with their collective, attracting a crackdown from within the self-governed community.
PHOTO - Lonnie Painter, 65, who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes and is the director of a group known as Laguna Woods for Medical Cannabis, medicates at his home in Laguna Woods, California.