My trip to the pot shop
by Michelle Malkin
PUEBLO WEST, Colo. — It’s 9 a.m. on a weekday, and I’m at the Marisol Therapeutics pot shop. This is serious business. Security is tight. ID checks are frequent. Merchandise is strictly regulated, labeled, wrapped and controlled. The store is clean, bright and safe. The staffers are courteous and professional. Customers of all ages are here.
There’s a middle-aged woman at the counter nearby who could be your school librarian. On the opposite end of the dispensary, a slender young soldier in a wheelchair with close-cropped hair, dressed in his fatigues, consults with a clerk. There’s a gregarious cowboy and an inquisitive pair of baby boomers looking at edibles. A dude in a hoodie walks in with his backpack.
And then there’s my husband and me.
The dispensary is split in two: “recreational” on one side, “medical” on the other. Medical customers must have state-issued cards and doctor’s approval. The inventory is not taxed, so prices are lower on that side. On the recreational side, where I’m peering at mysterious jars of prickly green goods, “Smoke on the Water” is thumping from stereo speakers. Yes, there’s a massive banner advertising a Tommy Chong appearance, and issues of “High Times” are on display. But the many imposing signs posted on the wall emphatically warn: No smoking, no open drug consumption, and absolutely no entry allowed into the locked lab where the cannabis plants sit under bright lights.
Before I tell you how and why my hubby and I ended up at Marisol Therapeutics, some background about my longtime support of medical marijuana: More than 15 years ago in Seattle, while working at The Seattle Times, I met an extraordinary man who changed my mind about the issue. Ralph Seeley was a Navy nuclear submarine officer, pilot, cellist and lawyer suffering from chordoma, a rare form of bone cancer that starts in the spine. He had undergone several surgeries, including removal of one lung and partial removal of the other, and was confined to a wheelchair.
Chronically nauseous from chemotherapy and radiation, weak from a suppressed appetite, and suffering excruciating pain, Seeley turned to marijuana cigarettes for relief.
Contrary to cultural stereotype, Seeley was far from “wasted.” While smoking the drug to reduce his pain, he finished law school — something he couldn’t have done while on far more powerful “mainstream” narcotics, which left him zonked out and vomiting uncontrollably in his hospital bed after chemo. Seeley had the backing of his orthopedic doctor and University of Washington School of Medicine oncologist Dr. Ernest Conrad. He took his plight to the Washington state supreme court, where he asserted a constitutionally protected liberty interest in having his doctor issue a medical pot prescription.
The court rejected Seeley’s case for physician-prescribed marijuana, arguing that the government’s interest in preserving an “interlocking trellis” of costly and ineffective War on Drug laws trumped his right to individual autonomy and physician treatment. After a decade-long battle with cancer, Seeley died in 1998. But his spirit persevered. Seeley bravely paved the way for medical marijuana laws in nearly two dozen states, including Washington’s Initiative 692, approved by voters 10 months after he died, and Colorado’s Amendment 20, passed by popular referendum in 2000.