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Home / Articles / News / Features /  Toke '09

Toke '09

Dude, where's my medical marijuana?

April 21, 2009, 12:00 am


The client, Michael W, a 6-foot-2-inch veteran with a white pony tail, arrives and reads Kyle’s character so quickly and accurately Kyle is shocked.

“You’re a lot more conservative than most Santa Feans, aren’t you?” Michael asks before the dealer says a word.

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Dave Maass

Michael W shows off a scar from where a tumor once was.

Michael explains he’s a born-again Christian and a Republican, who was dead-set against marijuana until approximately eight months ago.

“I was diametrically opposed to the legalization of pot,” Michael says. “To me, [medical marijuana] was a bullshit excuse for stoners to get stoned.”

As they stop in Nick’s Crossroads Café, a downtown diner, Kyle says he’s brought some “goodies” for Michael to sample later.

“Goodie goodies?” Michael asks. “Like cookies?”

Kyle opens the diaper bag to reveal a jam jar of pot. Michael reaches in, grabs it, holds it to the light, opens it, smells it. A customer at the next table makes a face. Kyle shifts nervously.

“Don’t worry,” Michael says. “I’ll eat the $100 citation.”

Cancer doesn’t just run in Michael’s family—it’s been chasing them down one by one. Breast cancer killed his mother. Lymphoma killed his father. A metastasizing cancer killed his grandmother. Now skin cancer is trying to drag him into the dirt.

Approximately eight months ago, Michael happened across phoenixtears.ca, a website set up by Canadian medical marijuana activist Rick Simpson. For three years, Simpson has provided cancer patients with hemp oil, which he says can cure certain forms of cancer. Michael contacted Simpson, who set him up with an Albuquerque producer. Within weeks, Michael says, his skin began to clear up.

Michael is loud, overbearing and, admittedly, a bit manic. His friends say he has problems with anger. Michael knows he’s angry, but he says it’s justified.

“I just lost it one night,” he says. “I broke down thinking, ‘how dare my government lie and bury this stuff?’ My grandmother, my dad would be alive. I’ve been disfigured, cut up and I’ve still got cancer.”

Michael plans to apply for New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, but it will be a battle because his health care is covered by the US Veterans Administration.

“The VA doctors, I don’t think they personally would have a whole lot of problems [with medical marijuana], but they’re within the confines of the federal system.”

Instead, he’ll need to transfer his medical records to a private doctor, who he’ll pay out of pocket to help him compile what may be an especially lengthy application.

Marijuana is Michael’s miracle cure, his magic tonic. In addition to the cancer, he suffers from leg injuries left over from his career as a pararescuer with the Navy. His gums are rotten due to an accident with a can of peaches when he was working at the South Pole. He’s got a silver-dollar sized scar on his chest where a tumor used to be and sometimes the tissue stings mercilessly. The pot eases the pain and helped pull him out of depression, another thing he didn’t believe in until a few months ago.

Currently, only the cancer is covered by New Mexico’s law, but his extreme and unusual set of conditions may make a strong argument for “chronic pain,” were that condition to be approved for medical marijuana use.

All the talk of pain and pot has Kyle fiending for his pipe. Michael drives them to his home, where Kyle sinks into a couch and loads a bowl. Kyle asks what’s with all the light green glass, the cups and saucers and sweetmeat plates that fill the cabinets lining the walls of Michael’s living room.

Michael explains he’s a collector of “Vaseline glass,” named for its coloring, not its content. Actually, the glass is died with uranium oxide. A Geiger counter would go nuts in here, Michael says, but it’s perfectly harmless and he swears it has nothing to do with his cancer.

Michael flips a switch and suddenly dozens of hidden black lights turn on. The room glows nuclear green.

“Dude!” Kyle bursts out. “You were a stoner before you even knew you were a stoner!”

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