Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call: Mile High City going to pot

Yesterday, Westword's quest for a medical-marijuana critic made the New York Times, after already being featured in the Wall Street Journal, MSN and CNBC. My e-mail box overflowed and my phone rang off the hook.

It's funny how the national media has jumped all over this. "Is this the most attention you've ever gotten?," asked one reporter -- words that warm the heart of any editor who's hoping for attention for a big investigative scoop, but instead gets the call for what a national outfit considers a light, fun story. But there's one aspect of our search for a reviewer that's not funny: How very, very important easy access to quality medical marijuana is for so many people.

Saturday morning, a friend was mocking me for heading this hunt, knowing full well that marijuana is not high on my list of personal indulgences. He, on the other hand, was ready to apply for the position himself. We were standing in the hallway of a local hospital, where his wife has spent the last three weeks. If marijuana might ease her pain, I'd be the first in line to get her some. Get her some, and then get some for any of the patients in this hospital, in every hospital, in clinics and offices and houses across the country, people who've found that marijuana is the very best way to ease their pain. Sometimes the only way to ease their pain.

People told the State of Colorado this when officials were contemplating changing the rules regulating medical marijuana dispensaries. Their testimony was so persuasive that the state put any changes on hold -- and as a result, the business has boomed, with dozens of dispensaries opening every month, as Susan Greene relates in her Denver Post column this morning. And with all those dispensaries comes a need for a reviewer to take a critical -- and yes, sometimes funny -- look at this industry.

Hence our quest. It may be funny outside of Colorado -- but it's very serious here.