The Silver Tour: Teaching Seniors About Medical Marijuana
By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town
Almost every time a poll is taken on public levels of support for medical marijuana, one of the groups most resistant to the idea is one that stands to gain the most from it: senior citizens. If we, as a community, can find a way to educate seniors on the health benefits and palliative qualities of medicinal cannabis, it will be a huge step towards achieving the numbers it will take to legalize medical marijuana on the federal level. Seniors are known as the most powerful voting bloc in the nation, and they always show up at the polls.
That's where the legendary Robert Platshorn, the Black Tuna himself, comes in. Platshorn -- who started as a pitchman, became one of the biggest marijuana smugglers of the 1970s, and then spent almost 30 years in federal prison -- has taken on the job of informing his fellow senior citizens about the health benefits of cannabis.
The Silver Tour is the only organization reaching out to seniors about medical marijuana, according to Platshorn, and its work consists of informing them on ways to organize, petition and contact their local politicians to demand legal, safe access to medicinal cannabis.
"Seniors have the greatest need," Platshorn said. "There is no activist organization that can have this kind of immediate impact on such a large number of influential voters -- voters who are totally outside the pro-marijuana movement!"
Platshorn's Silver Tour informs and inspires senior citizens -- resulting in more support for medical marijuana among this crucial and powerful voting block.
"Skeptical" Platshorn asks us. "Take a peek at this two-minute video from a recent Silver Tour show." [See the video below.] "Watch almost everyone in this audience sign up to demand legal access to this important medicine."
Platshorn said got the idea for the Silver Tour at Seattle Hempfest 2010. "I was on stage, speaking to 2,000 cheering supporters, promoting my book, Black Tuna Diaries and enjoying the love. Then it hit me," he said. "I was wasting my time 'preaching to the choir.' "
The Tuna realized that to make a real difference, he would have to find a way to reach the millions of people who had never heard of NORML, ASA, SSDP or any other group involved in marijuana activism. "As it turns out, that is almost everyone in America," he said.
"We tend to forget, pot activism is an incestuous movement," Platshorn said. "Most Americans barely know we exist. For me, it became a matter of figuring out where to get the most bangs for the buck, outside of the cannabis community.
Platshorn's riveting book, "Black Tuna Diaries," details his life story including wild tales of smuggling vast amounts of marijuana in the 1970s.
"Who needs this? Who has the political influence?" Platshorn asked himself. "Who has the time and inclination to contact politicians and demand access NOW?"
"The final epiphany came when Prop 19 was defeated in California," Platshorn said. "It was a bi-election year. Seniors vote in bi-elections. They voted 65 percent NO! Not because they were against legalization. That's my generation. We invited the marijuana movement. We never believed the government's lies!
"So what happened?" Platshorn asked. "No one was talking to seniors or giving them a good reason to vote YES, while booze and Big Pharma were spending money to scare them into voting NO.
"The answer was obvious," Platshorn said. "Give seniors the best reason in the world to support legalization. Teach them the benefits of medical marijuana. Most seniors have no idea that cannabis is real medicine. They have no idea how many conditions it can treat."
It didn't take long for the elements of The Senior Tour to come together in Platshorn's mind.
"It would travel to senior communities all over the country teaching the benefits of medical marijuana," Platshorn said. "Give seniors a great show, a free meal; bring a doctor or nurse, a lawyer, patients like my pal Irv Rosenfeld, who gets 300 joints a month from the federal government. Talk to seniors and it goes viral. Talking to each other is a major activity of seniors."
When they heard about the idea, High Times offered to support The Silver Tour with publicity, and Allen St. Pierre offered the endorsement of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "But no one offered a dime to get The Silver Tour on the road," Platshorn said.
The documentary film "Square Grouper" explores the marijuana smuggling scene of the 1970s, including Platshorn's "Black Tuna Gang."
"It took me a year to scrape together enough funds from my book sales and a couple of donations, to put on the first big Silver Tour show," Platshorn told me. "If you're read my memoir, Black Tuna Diaries, you know that back in the day, I was one of the most famous pitchmen in America, but as you can see in the video, the results of the first Silver Tour show were beyond even my wildest expectations."
Now, according to Platshorn, the plan is to take The Silver Tour to senior communities across the United States, and to produce a one-hour Silver Tour "infomercial" and run it over and over on mainstream TV.
"This old Pitchman has a strong background in the infomercial industry," Platshorn said. "I can run an hour infomercial in 50 cities for less money than most cannabis organizations spend for a single large ad in the mainstream press.
"When considering financial support to help end marijuana prohibition, consider this," Platshorn said. "Not one single organization or cannabis publication is devoted to reaching voters outside of our activist community -- except The Silver Tour!"
"Senior Power!" Platshorn said. "The Silver Highway is the fast road to end cannabis prohibition."
If you'd like to learn more and make a contribution that will translate into real results -- or if you'd like to see The Silver Tour come to your area, visit www.thesilvertour.org or email thesilvertour at yahoo.com.
Don't forget: For a great read, order a signed copy of Black Tuna Diaries, and for a great movie, order a signed Square Grouper DVD. "They make terrific holiday gifts along with Black Tuna medallions, Square Grouper t-shirts and signed movie posters," Platshorn said.
All orders help to keep The Silver Tour going, according to Platshorn.