Maybe the most encouraging scientific news came from Stephen DeAngelo, director of Harborside, a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland. He claimed that he and his associates have developed a strand of cannabis that has more therapeutic qualities and less THC, the substance that produces the “high” — scary to some, pleasurable to others.

In a sign of the changing times, Rhode Island nurses who attended the conference received continuing education credit. That’s no surprise, considering that nurses, locally and nationally, have lobbied hard to change marijuana laws. “Remember, we’re with people at the end,” said Donna Policastro, executive director of the Rhode Island Nurses Association. “We see what patients go through.”

So does Terry, a 49-year-old Rhode Island mother and high school golf instructor who is certified by the state’s health department to grow marijuana for two people and asked the Phoenix to withhold her last name  to protect against theft. In her preppy white turtleneck and periwinkle crewneck sweater, she looked nothing like the glassy-eyed stoner. “This is not about getting high,” she said. “It’s about people caring for people who need help.”

Of course, Terry and her ilk are hardly the first to trumpet the curative powers of marijuana. One Virginia man at the conference boasted of his quest to collect up to 10,000 cannabis-related artifacts for a soon-to-open Cannabis Museum. Among the items he displayed at the conference — a 1930 glass medicine bottle with a patriotic label: “Cannabis Americana!”

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