The magazine could be called Reefer Relief
Somewhere between “Reefer Madness” and Cheech and Chong, there is actual information to be had about what marijuana does to, and for, the people who use it. Few natural substances have inspired so much distortion and misinformation, so much obscene waste of time, money and resources. And now, with Rhode Island caught in a schizophrenic breakdown over marijuana — passing a law to legalize its medical use, then having the law weakened by the governor’s refusal to license compassion centers — there is a clear need to clear the smoke from the room and consider what this leaf can actually mean to people. So pick up a copy of Releaf at a small business near you. It is a magazine published in Providence, staffed by patients who use medical marijuana and filled with news of how marijuana does and doesn’t work in this strange world where a vital source of relief is only a little bit legal. “We felt the need for some form of presence — of what is going on,” said Carlos Reyes, a co-founder of the magazine. Reyes, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, said he was moved to do something, in part, by a story told by a friend of a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis. The woman’s boss suggested she try marijuana. She found that it relaxed her, helped her deal with the pain of MS. When she told her doctor, he told her to stop using it or he would stop being her doctor. It does get that crazy. People are suffering, they find relief and the doctor says forget about it. The monthly magazine, which marks its first anniversary in December, looks at the crazy stuff, the ugly stuff and day-today reality. In the October issue is a story on Robert Platshorn, a martyr to some, who served almost 30 years in prison for marijuana smuggling in a case that became a stunning example of how far the war on drugs will go to keep the war on drugs going. There is also a look at fibromyalgia, the chronic pain disorder, and how some sufferers have found the pain is eased by marijuana. “We want to present cannabis as approachable and understandable and everyone can live with it,” said Reyes. “And it doesn’t kill.” Marijuana will always be with us, hopefully in a way that allows its healthy application without the legal bob-and-weave. So we need information, instead of SWAT teams and legal briefs. We need to talk about it in a way that recognizes its healing promise and its twisted history. Releaf helps. It is about marijuana in often painful detail. Even within that small population in Rhode Island where marijuana is legally sold and administered, there are strange things going on that seldom make it into the public debate. Reyes said that some caregivers under the medical-marijuana law exploit their privilege to grow it. They give patients less than they need, he said, then sell the rest illegally at a very lucrative price. “It happens a lot,” said Reyes. It happens, of course, because as long as marijuana remains illegal, the illegal traffic will thrive. And people will get hurt. Releaf is available for free at the businesses that advertise in it. You might know of one. Or you can go to releaf.co.