Help wanted

The murky world of marijuana
By VALERIE VANDE PANNE  |  April 16, 2014


My 7 month old has an inoperable brain tumor. Doctors say radiation therapy is not an option. I read online that cannabis oil might shrink the tumor. Can you please connect me with a medical marijuana provider?

_Scared Mama

I suffer from cluster headaches. I am a teacher and coach and dread going to bed. The doctor has me on anti-seizure medication right now! I never have had a seizure in my life. Narcotics do not touch the pain I go through either. Those too have been prescribed. Last night I suffered from 8:45 pm until 3:50 am from ice pick headache after ice pick headache, only to “get up,” get the kids ready and try to teach. I am in week 4 of my headache cycle. I get 7-8 headaches per day, at least every other day, but once during this four-week stretch I had 3 1/2 days without one. What a vacation. I would try anything. Is there someone I could contact? Thank you.

_Distraught in the Mid-West

I’ve been out of work for almost two years. I heard that marijuana trimmers can make $20 an hour! Do you know of anyone who would hire me to trim? I’m a hard worker. I can meet them at a Dunkin Donuts or someplace public and safe. I’m sorry to ask you for this kind of work, but I am desperate.


These are just a few of the most frequent kind of emails I receive: the plea for a hook-up or connection.

When I get these emails, I sigh. I cannot help. It’s not just because it’s journalistically unethical, but also because fulfilling these requests would put my career — and my sources — at risk.

To someone who is young or into drug culture, these emails might seem absurd. Who has a hard time getting hooked up? But imagine for a moment you are middle-aged or older and you’ve been proudly anti-drug your entire life. Suddenly, you find yourself desperate and marijuana seems to be your last hope. Whom do you turn to? How do you find a safe environment for relief?

When it comes to medical marijuana, patients and their families are moving from all over the nation to Colorado to experiment with cannabis, because of barriers to obtaining it in their own states. And it’s most likely a similar desperation that drives people to ask a reporter like me for information on how to find illicit medicine. But while I want people to live healthy, safe lives, I cannot, under any circumstance, connect you with someone I’ve written about, or know about.

Here’s what I can say. I know many people who have found emotional support from patient and family groups oriented around their issue or illness. You may want to find a group in your community to attend. You can also contact your representatives — at every level of government — and tell them you want marijuana legalized and regulated, both so you can find the proper cannabis to treat an ailment without moving across the country, and for the economic boost it will bring to your community by creating jobs and whittling down a shady black market. States like Maryland — which became the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana on April 14 — don’t pass these laws without residents making a lot of noise.

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  •   HELP WANTED  |  April 16, 2014
    T he most frequent kind of emails I receive: the plea for a hook-up or connection.
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 See all articles by: VALERIE VANDE PANNE