The Doc Project

This 80-year-old is smoking weed for the first time — with a little help from his grandson

Thomas Goldhar and his Zaidy Moe have always had a special bond. So Thomas is giving him the gift of newly legalized weed for his 80th birthday.

Thomas Goldhar gives his grandfather, Moe Goldhar, the gift of newly legalized pot for his birthday

Listen to the full episode25:48
Moe and Thomas captured in Moe's basement workshop, which Thomas describes as having 'just about everything or more that you could find at a hardware store.' The two have spent hours down there together working on projects. (Quinton Bradshaw/CBC)

Morris (Moe) Goldhar is 80 years old, and his grandson Thomas, 21. But despite the almost 60-year age gap between them, they share an unusually close bond.

Thomas says he has learned a lot from his grandfather over the years. So as a birthday gift, he decided to give him an experience no one else could, or would: the two would try smoking cannabis together.

"It'll be fun to do this because it feels like it's something that you do with your friends," said Thomas. 

"It'll be kind of like opening up a new aspect to our relationship."

Thomas and Moe, having a smoke. (Quinton Bradshaw/CBC)

'The happiest old guy you will ever meet'

Moe has been a huge part of Thomas's life since day one.

"I spent a lot of time with my Zaidy and both my grandparents as a baby... my first night coming home from the hospital was spent here," said Goldhar.

A young Thomas helps Moe sweep the garage, circa early 2000s. (Submitted by Morris Goldhar)

Growing up, they'd spend time together in Moe's workshop, or running errands in his big black sedan. For a few years, Thomas and his dad even moved back in with his grandparents. For his grandfather, that was a special time.

"It just felt as if he was back home."

These days, Thomas sees Moe at least once a week. He'll often call him when he needs help with a project, or just for advice. They have deep conversations about the purpose of life, spirituality, and the future.

When asked to describe his Zaidy, Goldhar says, "I always tell people that he is the happiest old guy you could, you will, ever meet."

But it's taken Moe a long time to get to that place.

The refrigerator in Thomas's grandparents home is a mini-gallery of his childhood. (Quinton Bradshaw/CBC)

Fighting the darkness

For much of his life, Moe has struggled with anxiety and depression.

"I just didn't feel I could handle it all. And I always looked for ways and means of hiding from life itself," Goldhar explained.

The turning point for him came in 1960. He had become suicidal, and it was the push he finally needed to seek out professional help. For him, that was "the beginning of a process that ... started in 1960, and probably didn't end, if it ever ends at all, until 2000."

A young Moe, pictured in the kitchen of his home. (Submitted by Morris Goldhar)

More than just getting treatment, he saw the process as a complete rewiring of the way he thought.

"You've got to go inside and start to examine your beliefs, but at the same time you need a road map," said Goldhar.  

An unusual birthday gift

Moe's experience overcoming depression and anxiety were a big part of his curiosity about trying cannabis.

"I want to see how it affects me, because I'm already in a good place, but there's no limit to who and what we are," said Goldhar. "You can keep going to higher levels of understanding and awareness."

When he mentioned his interest to his grandson a few years ago, it stuck with Thomas.

"He said, 'Hey guys, when marijuana becomes legal we should have a smoke-around,'" said Thomas. "I laughed… and then years later, it did become legal."

I want to see how [cannabis] affects me, because I'm already in a good place, but there's no limit to who and what we are.- Moe Goldhar

Legalization actually came into effect the day before Moe's 80th birthday. Thomas suggested that, to celebrate, the two should try smoking up together.

And as for why he wanted to try it with his grandson? Moe's response was simple.

"Because we're soulmates."

Thomas and Moe light up in the park across the street from Moe's house. (Quinton Bradshaw/CBC)

High on life (and cannabis)

So one mild winter evening, the pair walked to the park across the street from Moe's house and lit up.

They took a few puffs and waited a bit. At first nothing happened. But as the air slowly grew hazy with smoke, so did Moe's thoughts.

Mid-sentence, he suddenly stopped.

I'm feeling a bit swoony.- Moe Goldhar, high on cannabis for the first time

"Now, that's funny. My mind just went blank,'" he said. "There is also a lightness coming to my head… which is kind of a pleasant feeling."

"Okay, so, I think you're feeling it," his grandson laughed.

They stayed a while longer, toking and joking — Moe periodically losing his train of thought, and starting to feel a little dizzy.

"So, I think we basically stopped when we should have stopped," said Moe, "I'm feeling a little bit swoony."

Then, as he began to grow drowsy, they headed home, Thomas's arm linked with his Zaidy's for support.

Thomas and Moe, smoking. (Quinton Bradshaw/CBC)

'Put that in your pipe and smoke it!'

Back in the family room, Moe reflected on the experience. His earlier buzz had worn off, leaving him feeling tired, and a bit uncomfortable.  

Despite that, he said he was glad to have tried it.

"This is fine. At least now when I hear references to... that particular substance, I can relate to it. I know what it does to you," he paused and chuckled, "but I don't think I'll be winding up at any of these shops to buy it in the very near future."

Who else has this kind of relationship as a grandfather and grandson?- Thomas Goldhar

And substance use aside, both Moe and Thomas agree that sharing the experience felt very special.

"I feel very thankful that I can have a relationship with you… where we can do things like this," Thomas told his Zaidy. "Like, who else has this kind of relationship as a grandfather and grandson?"

Arguably, not many.

To borrow one of Moe's expressions: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

The dynamic duo. Thomas describes his Zaidy as 'light and positive and fun.' Moe describes his grandson as 'a blessing.' (Quinton Bradshaw/CBC)

About the producer
Quinton Bradshaw

Quinton Bradshaw is a media-maker and radio and film producer. She got her start in audio as high-school co-op student at CFRC community radio station in Kingston, and recently completed an internship with the Doc Project. She has also worked with Toronto's Never Sleeps Network and the Trampoline Hall podcast. Quinton has spent the last four years as a Media Production undergrad at Ryerson's RTA School of Media, where she has both grown as a storyteller and learned how to coil a cable. She loves telling stories that are weird, whimsical, and human, and she can often be found riding her bike, going to the movies, or illustrating Toronto's nooks and crannies.  

This documentary was edited by Alison Cook.

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