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Review: A Blueprint for Medical Marijuana

Jenn Abelson. 6 Feb. 2013. “A Blueprint for Medical Marijuana.” The Boston Globe. A1, A10.


Donning a white medical jacket, Willie Ford helps patient Joel White select the medicine that he needs. What is that medicine? Marijuana.

In this article, author Jenn Abelson of the Boston Globe writes about certain medical marijuana clinics in the state of New Mexico, in light of the legalization in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The oft-discussed issue of legalizing medicinal marijuana is not an issue for Willie Ford, who is the president of R. Greenleaf Organics in Albuquerque New Mexico. Abelson writes:, “He is very clear that he sells medical cannabis, not marijuana, harvests from a farm (not growhouse), and provides medicine (not weed), at his clinic (not a dispensary), to patients (not potheads).”

Abelson makes the point that Ford, along with many other New Mexico cannabis clinics, operates his business in relative secrecy, located in an unassuming complex, and advertised with small signs. Like many other of such clinics, Ford has obsessive security, tracking his product from seed to sale. This is done in order to keep the DEA and other organizations at bay. These precautions are necessary because in spite of medicinal marijuana being legal in 18 states (as of the writing of this article, now 21), including New Mexico, it is still considered a schedule 1 drug, meaning it has low medical value and is likely to be abused.

Ford desires for his clinic to function like a pharmacy and strives hard to produce as professional an environment as possible. In the article, Abelson describes the process of receiving medical marijuana at R. Greenleaf:

When patients come in who are interested in purchasing cannabis they first have to show their state-mandated blue registration cards when they enter the clinic which is on the second floor of a strip mall building. Newcomers receive a consultation to understand how cannabis works, discuss symptoms and dosage, and learn the different ingestion options, including edibles (such as cookies) and vaporizers (smokeless inhalation devices).

In New Mexico, patients have to reapply for cannabis cards every year, something that officials in New Mexico think Massachusetts should institute as well. In keeping up with the professionalism of the business, R. Greenleaf does not advertise their products in glass jars where everyone can access them, or have creative names for each various strain, but keep their drugs hidden. They also package their products in white paper bags marked with their logo. Ford says, “We are changing the perception of marijuana….this is a wellness issue and we treat it that way.”

For one patient in particular, Joel White, the medical marijuana legalization and specifically R. Greenleaf Organics has been a life changing experience. In 1989 he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and after developing a tolerance to many prescriptive drugs, his primary care physician suggested that he try medical marijuana. The doctor’s own medical practice would not allow it, though, which forced White to drive 150 miles to get another doctor’s signature. White says, “I was still reluctant to use it at first because I never had any experience with marijuana and I was kind of scared of it….but I’ve realized it’s safer than anything I was using.”

He goes on to say in the article that “this is something other people need to have access to. I want others to know we are real people and not criminals.” White’s marijuana daily regime begins with using a vaporizer and eating a piece of cannabis infused fudge in the evening. For White it has significantly reduced his leg discomfort and has made it easier for him to stay asleep. He even has a small amount of marijuana that he grows at his home because he has a personal production license.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. Do you know anyone who is currently taking medical marijuana? What are the stigmas attached to it?
2. What are your thoughts on medical marijuana, and its supposed benefits for people like Joel White?
3. What are the positives and negatives of medical marijuana becoming legal around the country?
4. Do you think medical marijuana will ever be legal in all fifty states? How soon?
5. Do you believe R. Greenleaf Organics is handling things the right way in treating their company as a clinic to help patients?


In this article, the author presents a specific case about a cannabis clinic in New Mexico in order to provide a picture of the potential situation in Massachusetts once the legalization of medicinal marijuana is complete. The question remains: what will Massachusetts do with medical marijuana and how often will doctors prescribe it as a suitable alternative to prescription medicine? The desire for more states to legalize marijuana will continue to make this a very hot topic and something that needs to be discussed within communities, families, and schools in the coming years.

Joe Garrison
© 2018 CYS

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