By Marilyn Barnewall

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The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) has been on my bad side for several years. I haven’t really said much about it to anyone because I figured it was just me.

You can imagine my surprise when I found that quite a few other people feel the same way. People, it seems, do not like being carried as “members” of an organization to which they do not belong.

I joined AARP at the minimum age a number of years ago because my mother and stepfather wanted to take a cruise. They wanted me to go with them. To get the special rate, I had to join. On the cruise, I found the AARP cruise guide one of the best I’ve ever had.

We had a near tragedy on that cruise. My mother became very ill with pneumonia. The ship’s doctor kept telling me she had the flu. I knew she had pneumonia… it is an allergy-related thing and she and I both have it. It happens very quickly when exposed to just the right kind of mold and we had just visited an ancient civilization jungle site about 40 miles from Cozumel.

We pulled into a foreign port in the Bahamas for a very brief time. I got off the ship and literally ran to the Eastern Airlines ticket counter to get a reservation on the first flight to Florida for Mom. I ran back to the ship and grabbed the purser and told him my mother would be departing the ship and that she needed immediate transportation to the airport. My aunt (also traveling with us) agreed to accompany her to Ft. Myers. My sister would meet the plane. All of these arrangements were made in less than an hour.

My stepfather falls apart when anything happens to my mother. I had to stay with him and get our luggage packed and off the ship. Aunt Carole could not handle the difficult details that might arise when an American departs a foreign country so the AARP Cruise Director accompanied the two elderly women to the airport. We had to get Mom back in the States and in a hospital.

In the rush, Mom left her U.S. Passport on the ship. The AARP Cruise Guide was super sharp. She was pushing mother’s wheelchair. When they realized Mom did not have her passport, she waved her own in the air at the British immigration official and Mom was waved through to the plane. The ship’s captain had called ahead and they knew she was ill. Without the guide’s quick thinking, my mother might have died… so said the doctor who saw her immediately upon her arrival in Ft. Myers.

Thus, I had a lot of reasons to maintain my membership in AARP for a number of years. Then, their stance on issues like Social Security and Medicare and the medical use of marijuana for seniors finally got me down. Perhaps I would have felt differently had they presented more than one side of these issues then let people decide for themselves. They did (and do) not.

So, I let my membership lapse. They keep sending me their magazine because it keeps my name on their membership list. I am not a member (and don’t like the magazine). I found friends were experienced the same thing and were not any happier about it than I was. If what I believe is true, AARP speaks for far fewer people than they claim.

I had to laugh today when I read a news story from Accuracy in Media (AIM) about one of AARP’s magazine editors, Ed Dwyer. He is an admitted former drug dealer and user… and has emerged as AARP’s national spokesman on the issue of legalizing marijuana for medical use. The full article can be found at AIM’s website.

In addition to his drug background, Dwyer has also worked for High Times, Playboy and Penthouse magazines. AARP’s top magazine editor, Steven Slon, has also worked for Penthouse. He and Dwyer are old friends.

High Times is a magazine that features centerfold pictures of illegal drugs. Playboy features such bad centerfold photos, men read it for the articles. Dwyer said “sex was plentiful” and the work, was “most rewarding when we got to sample the centerfolds” (referring to drugs featured in High Times), naming several varieties of dope.”

Slon and Dwyer say “nearly 75 percent of elderly Americans approve of legalizing marijuana for medical use.” I doubt the statistics.? My guess is, it was a highly selective poll of a group that got well-crafted questionnaires.?

A recent press release from Great Britain?verifying the existence of a marijuana throat spray that achieves the pain relief marijuana offers?will soon make this issue a moot point, anyway.

The timing of all of these events is quite interesting.? Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media’s “AIM Report” wrote a story titled “From Pot to Port to AARP” just one day before AARP was scheduled to announce a $5 million, two-week ad campaign against privatizing Social Security.

Suddenly, the world is informed that AARP Magazine’s primary voice for legalizing marijuana for medical use is an ex-user and dealer… and is experienced with what many people consider pornography.? There is little doubt that Kincaid’s ties of AARP to editors from the drug and porn cultures will harm the credibility of the organization.? As a result, AARP’s stand against President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security may lose some of its effectiveness.

Dwyer’s High Times experiences took place almost 30 years ago.? AIM’s Cliff Kincaid seems to think conservatives have a long memory… and he may be right.? Or, perhaps the right is finally learning how to fight back.?

Some things in life are just worth waiting for, aren’t they?? AARP… affiliated with drugs and porn.? I can’t help it.? I’m still laughing.

It almost sounds as if they have been taking too much Viagra at the AARP Home Office.


Marilyn Barnewall, in 1978, was the first female to be named vice president in charge of a major loan and deposit portfolio at Denver’s largest bank. She started the nation’s first private bank, resigned to start her own firm and consulted for banks of all sizes in America and other countries. In June 1992, Forbes dubbed Barnewall “the dean of American private banking.” Author of several banking texts, she has written extensively for the American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, and was U.S. consulting editor for Private Banker International (Lafferty Publications, London/Dublin). Article originally appeared in the Grand Junction Free Press. Marilyn can be reached at [email protected].

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