As seniors grow more comfortable with the thought of legal marijuana, one San Francisco-based startup hopes to cash in on that trend by helping them obtain cannabis products.
That company, Octavia Wellness, services more than 2,500 clients throughout the state of California, with an average age of 57 years old. Many clients reside in active adult communities.
The company employs more than 50 certified wellness consultants, who are paid on commission to educate seniors about cannabis and help them purchase pot products.
The startup specializes in selling cannabis products that are formulated to avoid causing the psychoactive effects usually associated with smoking pot. Using Octavia Wellness’s online store, seniors can purchase CBD drops, salves and creams, along with more traditional marijuana products such as vaporizer cartridges, edibles and pot “flowers,” which are also known as bud or leaf marijuana.
Octavia Wellness, a non-retail storefront, then uses a licensed delivery partner to ship directly to seniors who live in municipalities and communities that allow it.
“What we’ve realized is, for the most part, seniors don’t want to get high,” Carrie Tice, CEO and co-founder of Octavia Wellness, told Senior Housing News. “The main thing is, they just want to feel better.”
More older Americans accept marijuana use today than in years past. A Pew Research Center survey released in January found that a whopping 56% of baby boomers favor total legalization of pot. In response to those changing perceptions, some forward-thinking senior living providers, such as Colorado-based Balfour Senior Living, have even begun inviting experts into their communities to educate their residents about marijuana.
Despite that growing acceptance, the future of marijuana in senior living is still somewhat hazy. Because marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 drug, many senior living communities have strict requirements regarding which residents can take it, and who can administer it. For this reason, Octavia Wellness doesn’t have as many traditional senior living clients as it would like—though that may not be too far behind, either.
“That may be coming in a few years,” Tice said. “But right now we’re concentrating on [55+] communities and community centers for seniors.”
Octavia Wellness aims to bust some of the stigmas attached to marijuana use, and make the process of buying it easier and more friendly for older adults. For example, many of the startup’s wellness consultants are around the same age as their clients, and some even live in the same communities.
“Seniors don’t want to go to dispensaries. It’s challenging, and it’s confusing, and it’s not usually ideal,” Tice said. “What we realized is, seniors are the most comfortable learning about products from their peers or their friends.”
And that business model appears to be paying off. Octavia Wellness has so far raised $1.5 million, with more fundraising on the way. The startup plans to expand soon to the state of Nevada—which fully legalized marijuana last summer—then to the state of Illinois.
Written by Tim Regan