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Nov. 30, 2000 - My parents always kept a small plot of land in the backyard
as a garden. It was roughly the size of an average bedroom. Pretty small.
But they hovered around that garden all spring and summer. They plowed,
fertilized, hoed, mulched, and sampled the soil. They watered. They pinched
leaves. At night they pointed to pictures in books and seed magazines,
which eventually accumulated and took over the dining room.

And then, a few months later, there was a crop of something. Usually a crop
of mutant something. One year it was zucchini. Thousands of zucchini
crawled out of the garden as if cast in a late-night horror film. Neighbors
came home to anonymous zucchini breads, pies, and cakes delicately balanced
inside of screen doors or stuffed into mailboxes. Dad kept a huge zucchini
next to his bed in case there were intruders.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in April, the planting month. Dr.
Brodsky talked with his arms crossed in front of him, listing the
chemotherapy agents I would be taking and their side effects. Prednisone.
Procarbazine. Nitrogen mustard. Vincristine. The latter two would cause
nausea and vomiting. It sounded unpleasant.

A few nights before I was scheduled to start treatment, I called a friend,
the only person my age I knew who'd had cancer. He muttered five gruff
words into the phone: "Chemo's grim, man, get weed."

I trotted into the living room and nonchalantly announced to the family
that I was going to buy marijuana to help with the nausea and vomiting.

There was an oppressive silence, punctuated only by the rapid tapping of my
mother's finger on an armchair. Then she began, her voice carrying that
staccato edge she generally reserved for my father. She told me in no
uncertain terms that there would be no drugs in the house. She berated me
about the dangers of illicit substances, the horrors that visit lives
filled with addiction, and swore to me that her roof would never shelter a
drug user. She ended her diatribe with an outstretched finger.

With the vigor of an adolescent with a cause, I argued back that for me,
marijuana would be medicine, the only medicine that could temper the
violent treatment I faced. That it wasn't addictive, and that my body would
soon process toxins far more dangerous than marijuana. At the end of our
conversation we were where we began. I knew my mother. Once she was
entrenched in a position, argument was futile. I retreated.

I still wonder what happened to her during the night. Maybe she studied the
pamphlets the doctors provided, maybe she woke up in a sweat, the remnants
of noxious dreams about her son and chemotherapy still etched in her mind's
eye. I don't know. But I do know this. The next morning my mother ran her
finger down the "Smoke Shop" listings in the phone book. She called a
number of establishments, asking detailed questions and jotting down words
like bong, carb, and water pipe. Then she gathered her keys and purse, and
30 minutes later was walking down the aisles of a head shop called Stairway
to Heaven, taking notes and carefully checking the merchandise for shoddy
workmanship. My mother is a Consumer Reports shopper.

I was sitting on the ground in the backyard when my mother's car pulled
into the driveway. A few moments later she appeared on the back porch
waving a three-foot bong over her head. She proclaimed her find with the
same robust voice she'd used for years to call my brother and me to dinner:
"Is this one okay? They didn't have blue ... "

When I entered the house she delicatelv handed me the bong and some money.
She brushed dust from my shoulder and softly told me to do whatever I
needed to get the marijuana. After a quick phone call I left to make my
purchase. When I returned with the small Baggie my mother asked to see it.
I felt a sharp adolescent fear, conditioned from years of living under my
mother's vigilant eyes. I handed it over. She looked into the small bag.

"Where's the rest of it?" she asked.

"That's it, Ma," I said. She squinted at me. "I swear, Ma. That's it."

She murmured quietly, "Honey, give me the seeds."

I thought of huge zucchinis.

When my father learned of my mother's plan he clipped two articles out of
the paper with the titles "Police Raid Yields Results" and "Drug House
Seized." He put them under a magnet on the refrigerator and underlined the
worst parts. That night, as we prepared for dinner, Mom read them, nodded
soberly, and said, "Bring them on."

That summer my parents plowed, fertilized, hoed, mulched, and sampled the
soil. They watered. They pinched leaves. And that August the mutant crop
arrived. Ten bushy plants grew over 11 feet tall in our backyard, eclipsing
the sunflowers in front of them. Far more weed than I could have smoked in
a lifetime.


The Gainesville airport is small. It doesn't even have a tower. There are
two gates and you can see both from the airport lobby. It's a humid night,
the air heavy with sweat and the occasional mosquito. Gainesville is a
college town and the airport is filled with college wear. There are a lot
of baseball caps, ponytails, and shorts. People sit reading or watching
tiny televisions built into kiosks scattered through the lobby.

Football is on television. I'm watching the second half of a depressing
Patriots game when I see their plane coast down outside the windows. I
stand up with the others and we gather around the gate. Then, a little
while later, I feel a familiar comfort as I spot my father's bobbing bald
head. And then Mom. That confident stride I'd know anywhere. Her purse
strap runs across her body like a crossing guard's reflector and for a
moment she looks as if she's in uniform. Before I realize it I'm cutting
through the small crowd and into their arms. Both of them at once. Big
tired smiles. My cheeks feel hot.

We stand quietly at the baggage conveyor. A few bags arrive and we pull
them off the belt. Then more. And more. Mom has never been an efficient
packer. It's more important to be prepared for any eventuality than to be
able to fit one's luggage into a standard-sized vehicle like, say, a
U-Haul. The sixth bag arrives. It's roughly the size of a Buick.

"Jimmy Hoffa's body is in there?" my father suggests.

"Don't be a wise-ass," my mother says. I grunt under the weight.

The inquisition starts on the drive. My parents haven't been to Gainesville
before. Or our new apartment. Is there any place to get good bagels in this
town? Is the biopsy still scheduled for Thursday morning? How long will I
be in the hospital? Since I haven't had any other symptoms, couldn't it
just be a cyst or something? I look tired -- have I been going to classes?
Do I want my father to drive? Maybe I shouldn't have carried the bags?
How's graduate school, is it harder than Vassar?

Dad and I lug the baggage into our new apartment. We carry in the Jimmy
Hoffa bag together. When we finally manage to get it in, we are both
laughing at its weight. Indignant, Mom directs us to drop it in the kitchen.

"It's hot," Mom says, working the knob on the air conditioner. "Maybe we
can go to Payne's Prairie or Ginnie Springs tomorrow, before you meet with
the physicians?" she asks. My parents always do this. No matter where I am,
they know more about the place than I do. Where every historical site is,
how many Apaches were relocated there in the 1880s, and, of course, where
they might find a red-bellied plover. Payne's Prairie is a large swamp
south of Gainesville. At the time, I hadn't heard of it. Or Ginnie Springs,
where, according to my mother, crystal-clear blue water rises out of the

There's knocking and the front door swings open. "I want you to finally
meet Terry," I say. Mom stops fiddling with the air conditioner and stares.
Terry walks in. She is all smiles. There are warm introductions. We chat
for a few minutes and then I go to my new hall closet to find towels,
leaving Terry and my parents alone in the kitchen. I'm digging through bath
towels when I hear Terry, her voice much louder than usual.

"OH MY GOD, is that what I THINK it is?"

"What?" I hear my mother say softly.

"Oh my God. OH MY GOD! DANIEL!" Terry yells.

What's wrong? I walk briskly back to the room, matching washcloths in my
arms. I arrive in time to see my mother yank, and finally free, a massive,
plastic Ziploc baggy from the Hoffa bag.

I know immediately that I have never seen this much marijuana crammed into
such a small space. It must weigh a pound. The corners of the bag are
splayed out and soon it's going to give birth to its contents.

Terry asks softly, "You didn't check that through ..." She looks from my
mother to me and then to my father.

"No one searched my bag," Mom says, flat. Then she sets the marijuana down
in the middle of the kitchen table and walks over to the stove. She lifts
my teapot and begins to fill it with water.

"We've got plenty more hanging in the attic if you need it. So, Terry ...
have you been to Ginnie Springs?"

About the writer

Dan Shapiro is a clinical psychologist at the University of Arizona and the
author of "Mom's Marijuana: Insights About Living."
Distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
MAP posted-by: Jo-D

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 19:56:11 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>
To: restore@crrh.org
Subject: US: "Mom's Marijuana"
Message-ID: <>

Newshawk: Cannabis News - marijuana, hemp, and cannabis news
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: Salon (US Web)
Copyright: 2000 Salon
Contact: salon@salonmagazine.com
Address: 22 4th Street, 16th Floor San Francisco, CA 94103
Fax: (415) 645-9204
Feedback: http://www.salon.com/contact/letters/
Website: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture
Forum: http://tabletalk.salon.com/
Author: Dan Shapiro
Note: Dan Shapiro is a clinical psychologist at the University of Arizona
and the author of "Mom's Marijuana: Insights About Living."
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