A weed grows in Boston

By VALERIE VANDE PANNE  |  December 4, 2009

As we cut through one of those franchise-store service-roads that could be anywhere in America, she tells us to blindfold ourselves, which we do. Frankly, neither the photographer nor I want to know where, exactly, we're going. We are both aware of the consequences that such knowledge can bring — for example, if we are asked by the authorities where the grow house is located, we can honestly say we don't know. Conversely, if Mary's house is broken into and her crop stolen (which can be a problem in the marijuana-growing community), she will know we had nothing to do with it.

On our blindfolded ride, I struggle to take notes without being able to see the lines on my pad or what I am writing. Mary takes advantage of our journey to share some of her thoughts on the business of pain management.

"Why do we have so many people addicted to pills?" she asks. "My sons are 18, 19 years old, and they call themselves 'Generation RX.' [Doctors] will put a 14 year old on Oxys for foot surgery. That's legal — but I'm considered a criminal.

"They're giving 14 year olds these pills and [the kids] think it's okay, because the doctor gave it to them. They're hyperactive and put on Adderall. I know an 18 year old who smokes Oxys now. Kids see what Xanax does to mom. The gateway drug isn't marijuana — it's the medicine cabinet."

Mary recalls the documentary The OxyContin Express — produced by the Vanguard news division of Al Gore's Current TV — and laments, "Those pills [OxyContin] are going to kids. My weed doesn't go to kids. Never. Ever."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug poisoning, primarily from prescription opioids, is the number-one cause of unintentional death among 35 to 54 year olds. It is the number-two unintentional cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds, behind motor-vehicle accidents.

Mary is a passionate advocate for the legitimization of her stealth industry. "I'm not addicting people," she notes. "I'm helping people. Every dime I make goes back into the economy. And I would love to pay income tax."

Besides her professed desire to pay taxes, making her business legitimate would create a pathway for Mary and her live-in partner Joey, who has diabetes, to obtain health insurance for themselves and their employees.

I feel the car turning left, and right, and winding around, and finally rolling to a stop. "Okay! You can take the blindfolds off now! We're here!"

"Here" it turns out, is the cutest little Norman Rockwell home you can imagine.

0912_pot2_main
SCENES FROM A HAUL: Jones’s suburban house outside Boston has dozens of marijuana plants at various stages of development. Her product sells for $400 per ounce.

The grow house
From the outside, we could have been on Wisteria Lane. But none of their neighbor's houses are visible through the trees that surround Mary and Joey's abode.

We walk into a neat, clean, sparse home. There are no pit bulls, no guns, no security cameras. No henchmen, no gangsta rap blaring. No heavily tattooed and pierced punks or hippies. It is, in fact, the exact opposite: a quaint residence, quintessentially suburban, with a bowl of plastic fruit on the dining-room table, pictures of their happy family on the walls, house plants in the windows, and a bird feeder in the backyard. Smokey, the house cat, lolls in the living room.

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