When I mention to a New Mexican that I’m from Texas, many ask why I moved here. When I say the reason was marijuana or medical cannabis, the responses I get range from slightly curious to maybe a little giggle and a knowing grin. (New Mexicans don’t think weed is that big of a deal, unlike in Texas.)
That’s how I met my first underground drug dealer in New Mexico, when I mentioned I was in the Medical Cannabis Program and the difficulties I was having finding quality medicine for an affordable price. Of course, my first drug dealers in New Mexico were actually the legal dispensaries, as anyone who sells drugs is a drug dealer, legal or not. My long-term drug dealers in Texas were doctors and Walgreens.
After I had performed my due diligence on my new treatment option; after six months in this state’s program; after I had figured out how to collect and analyze the information to assess the new treatment and my progress; after my money situation began to look rather concerning — after all this, I was feeling quite frantic. My experiment was not turning out as I had hoped, and it was apparent at that point that I could not afford to be a member of the Medical Cannabis Program in New Mexico. I could not believe that after all my research and hard work in moving to another state, I was faced with failure.
So, the next time my neighbor happened to mention his connections, I thought, well, I need to at least experiment with the alternatives. Even though my long-term plan is to move to Colorado, I am going to be stuck in this beautiful state for quite some time. I can think about suicide or I can think about alternative ways to purchase my preferred treatment for pain.
My neighbor — my first underground drug dealer in New Mexico — was in his early twenties. He moved on many months ago, which is why I feel free to mention him now. For the purposes of this story, let’s call him Dean.
Dean said he was a veteran, dishonorably discharged, but he said a lot of things that turned out to be untrue. But he also said he suffered from drug addiction, which I believe was true. Once in conversation, he mentioned he was having difficulty accessing methadone maintenance treatment, but he didn’t say why.
Dean had four different jobs at call centers in the time that I knew him (one of the few jobs available in this state), which was less than a year. And Dean had an anger problem, which was periodically on display in my front yard, when he and his girlfriend would fight, or when he yelled at his dog. (Ironically, he was one of only a few dog owners who pick up after their pet.) But Dean was always nice to me, and I was always nice to him (and his dog). (His girlfriend usually didn’t give me the time of day, so I didn’t have to be nice to her, the snob.)
One irritating habit that Dean had was knocking on my door and asking to bum a cigarette. He didn’t really smoke that much, but I noticed when he was a little manic, a cigarette was one of the ways he self-medicated. The first handful of times, I said, sure, and gave him a couple at a time. One day he woke me up from a nap with this request, and I said sure, for 25 cents. He knocked on my door one more time for a cigarette, but he only had 15 cents. At least he was trying, so I said sure. After that, he didn’t try to bum a cigarette again.
Eventually, Dean and I agreed to… let’s call them exchanges. Dean didn’t sell drugs, he just had connections. He was just a middleman. The middleman usually doesn’t make much money in these deals, if any, but he gets to enjoy free samples, maintaining his habit for very little expense.
We started small, and the first exchange wasn’t bad. But I got ripped off the second time — that exchange was definitely uneven. The next few times were good, which I can describe as including both quality and affordability. At that point, the underground won the price battle against the legal dispensaries — by quite a wide margin. Not that I stopped trying to make the legal program work for me. You know, until I ran out of money.
The next and last time Dean I made an exchange, the rip off was quite apparent. And I let him know about it. He wasn’t happy and stormed out, later pounding on my door a few times. After that, we never spoke again. He moved out a few months later.
This was last year, months before my renewal was due, and months before my car needed a major repair. And months before Unum would terminate my long term disability insurance benefits. Maybe I thought I would leave some of my bad luck in Texas, but it appears I brought it with me. I sure hope none of it rubbed off on Dean.
Before now, I’ve been very careful not to mention my activities in the underground whenever I post things on the internet. It could be used against me by Unum, and who knows, maybe even Social Security. But Unum can use anything against me, like the fact that I’m still breathing, or heck, maybe even that I’m Irish. Another reason to keep quiet is for the safety of those who help out pain patients like me. And of course, the police could be knocking on my door tomorrow… although why they would care is beyond me.
But I know how many pain patients are struggling in this state and all across this country. I’ve read many comments from people my age who don’t know how to access the underground, even though that’s the only way to find medical cannabis in their state. Not that I have the answers — just experiences.
Also, I want pain patients to understand that if you’re going to move to another state for medical cannabis, there are many problems that will arise — problems that may be unexpected. And for pain patients who are switching from prescription drugs to medical cannabis, you need to be aware of the costs involved. Compared to Oxy and Vicodin, marijuana is not cheap.
I don’t know if this story and all the information I post will help others, but that’s what I’m hoping for. And if the police don’t come and get me for trying to stay alive through constant pain, I’ll try to continue the stories of my underground drug dealers in the hope that it will help a pain patient, somewhere, navigate access to cannabis… maybe even in Texas.