Medical marijuana patient protests lack of MMJ access in small town with "art revolt"

Those who support the ability of communities to ban medical marijuana businesses typically say the rights of MMJ patients in those towns are still protected, since they can sign up with licensed caregivers.

But that's not the way it's worked out for Angela Macdonald, a resident of Haxtun, a small burg in Northeast Colorado. She says she has to drive five hours per day to get her meds, and that makes her angry. Fortunately, though, she's expressing that frustration through art.

Macdonald was previously profiled in this space back in January. Then, the focus was on, a news site for the medical marijuana community that allowed Macdonald to use video and production skills she'd picked up while working for Comcast.

But she's also an MMJ patient due to a 2004 snowboarding accident during which she broke her tibia and ankle. She wound up with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, also known as CRPS, or chronic regional pain syndrome. After years of treating this condition with prescription narcotics, she finally experienced relief via medical marijuana.

But finding it has been a chore. Haxtun has banned dispensaries, and the nearest one that provides the range of merchandise, including edibles, that she needs to function at her best is located in Denver. "It takes me two-and-a-half hours every time I need to go down there," she says. "That's five hours a day to get access to my rights under Amendment 20."

What are Macdonald's alternatives? She could sign up with a caregiver, but connecting with one in her area has proven to be extremely difficult -- and the five-patients-per-caregiver limit has been an issue as well. Moreover, she needs different products at different times, and caregivers are less able to provide a wide range than are dispensaries.

As for growing plants for her own use, she's tried, and she's discovered she simply doesn't have the acumen to do so. Plus, she's worried about becoming a crime victim. "In a town like this, how do I know I wouldn't be a target?" she asks. "I've been very vocal about my position, and I'm not ashamed of what I'm doing -- but I'm apprehensive. If I had my six plants, someone could come along and take them. And then where would I be?"

Still in Haxtun, clearly -- but she's decided to send a message to her friends and neighbors, as well as the anti-MMJ crowd as a whole, about the misplaced nature of their cannabis paranoia. She had her husband own property on one of the main streets in town, and on it is an unoccupied building. "It's actually the old police station, ironically," Macdonald says -- but the structure won't look like one for much longer. On Saturday, Macdonald, assorted volunteers and anyone else who wants to help her will be turning the building into an art project.

"We're planning a mural -- and part of it will feature quotes from people," she notes. "But the front of the building is going to have marijuana symbols all over it."

The idea, she says, "is for everyone to confront their worst fears -- to look at it and see what it is that bothers us about it. And then we can approach things a little more logically. It's a bit like exposure therapy: If we really look at this, maybe we can figure out why we're so afraid of it."

Macdonald is providing pizza and beverages for those who participate. Here are more details about when and where:

Medical Marijuana Art Revolt

In response to the fallout of HB 10-1284, and recent decline in patient access to medicine in Colorado, The Reefer Report is hosting the first official Medical Marijuana Art Revolt in Northeast Colorado. The event will involve painting a mural on the old Haxtun Police Station (currently owned by Angela Macdonald of The Reefer Report and her husband). Pizza and drink will be provided by our sponsors.

When: August 7, 2010

Time: starts at 10:00 am, ends whenever we are done

Where: 124 E. Fletcher, Haxtun, Colorado (old police station)

Additional information: We are also reserving free space for peaceful participants to camp out. Please bring your camping gear and be prepared for heat, rain, and anything else in between. If you would like to stay Saturday night, you must RSVP to [email protected] otherwise we cannot guarantee a space.

Cannabis will not be dispensed at this event, but you are welcome to bring your own. We will provide a place for patients to consume their medicine in accordance with Amendment XX of the Colorado State Constitution at this PRIVATE event (bring you permit if you wish to do this in our space).

We respect the town residents and do not want to make this anymore painful than it will be after the piece is complete, so please keep this in mind.

Carpooling can be arranged through

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts