A weed grows in Boston

By VALERIE VANDE PANNE  |  December 4, 2009

While they each live on their respective college campuses, Peter and Luke come home for dinner with Mary and Joey and their little sister a few times a week. Both brothers are committed to completing school and getting professional jobs.

"Legalizing it would eliminate so much stress from [my mom's] life," says Peter. "Growers aren't scumbags. I don't see anything wrong with what she does or with what any grower does. I don't see why it's illegal. Like what she does for cancer patients. She's a lot nicer to them than insurance companies. I know at least 15 people where it's the only medicine they can get. I know these other two patients in chronic pain — they lost their house because of their medical bills. My mom gives them butter whenever she can, because they can't afford to buy pain killers, and the butter is better for them, anyway."

Peter pauses, and takes a bite of the macaroni and cheese that he's prepared as a snack.

"I respect her a lot for it. The first time she took me to her grow spot, I was really proud. She knows what she's doing."

"The thing that sucks about growing is the potential to get caught," says Mary. "And if that were to happen, my first concern is — what happens to my kids?"

0912_pot4_main
BUTTER UP: Jones makes marijuana butter, which contains the extracted, powerful cannabinoids from the plant matter. She then gives away the butter to those suffering from chronic pain.

Tax it all, Deval!
More than 200 years ago, a Massachusetts minuteman started a revolution in opposition to taxation without representation. Now, a Bay State businesswoman is begging the government to tax her, and it won't.

"I'm sick of being afraid," says Mary, who has a message for Governor Deval Patrick: "Tax us! Tax us like you tax any other farmer! Tax us equally and fairly!

"We want to earn a good living. If they legalized and taxed it, we could be a legal small business. I'd have no problem paying taxes. . . . Tax the prostitutes, tax the drugs. Stop being Puritans — wake up!"

While supporting her family played a huge role in getting her growing, Mary confesses that when her children are on their own, or even if she wins the lottery, she will continue to grow, both for her own pain relief and for the well-being of the patients she cares for. For her, it's a form of therapy, and she likens it to how some gardeners feel spending the day caring for treasured roses.

"President Obama!" Mary adds, hoping he'll read her words and hear her plea. "Legalize it on a federal level! Your country needs you to do it! You have the power to do it — so do it!

"That would be a lasting legacy for him. Everyone knows someone with chronic pain, or AIDS, or cancer."

As we prepare to leave, the trimmer stands up and stretches — he's been on the couch working all day — and comes to shake hands good-bye.

We exit into the crisp, late-afternoon fall air. It's a gorgeous day, and the home is perfectly unsuspecting. We climb back into the vehicle for the return ride to the commuter-rail station.

"I attribute my ability to get up and function every day to cannabis," says Mary as we buckle ourselves in. "[Marijuana] keeps me from pain killers.

"Okay! Cover your eyes!" she then cheerfully calls out, and we begin the drive back to the real world, the overpowering smell of fresh marijuana clinging to our clothes.

Valerie Vande Panne is a freelance journalist. She can be reached at valerievandepanne@gmail.com.

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