Carl Addison Swanson is freelance writer in Westport. Preparing for a magazine article, he conducted an interview that he wanted to share with “06880” readers.
Carl is examining the Connecticut State Senate’s attempts to legalize medical marijuana, as well as decriminalize its possession. Previous attempts in 2007 and 2009 failed, but Governor Dannel Malloy has pledged his support.
Toni Boucher, who represents parts of Westport, is an ardent opponent. She led the 2009 filibuster that defeated passage.
The name of the woman Carl interviewed has been changed at her request.
“My granddaughter made me some marijuana Rice Krispies treats. Quite honestly, I was afraid to eat them,” she explains. We are sitting in her dark den, in a split level off Cross Highway.
“I thought some police would come crashing through the door and arrest me.”
“Norma” is an artist, activist, mother of 2, grandmother of 4, and ex-wife of a famous Westport producer. She is also a cancer survivor.
“When I first realized something was wrong, my stomach swelled up like I was pregnant. It was horribly frightening,” Norma says. “Of course, they operated and got most of it. Ovaries. But I had to go through nearly a year of chemotherapy.”
Norma is fragile, and I am afraid to ask her age. She has liver spots on her hands, which shake repeatedly. For some reason, this makes me nervous. My prepared questions are virtually abandoned as a result.
“The chemotherapy was dreadful,” she continues without being asked. “I couldn’t keep anything down. It was like a terrible case of the flu. And just when you started to feel good, you had to have another round of the damn stuff.” She seems shocked by her own use of the word “damn.” She smiles.
I tell her I am writing an article about medical marijuana in Connecticut. I say that bills have been submitted to the State Senate since 2007, but have failed. The new governor has promised to back any new attempts. Westport’s senator is strongly opposed.
“Well, I did eat finally eat those Rice Krispies treats, and I will tell you it helped,” she says.
“By my 3rd round of chemo I was ready to try anything. It nearly cured my nausea, and I slept better too. I started baking them myself. The key is to melt the grass in with the butter.”
Norma stiffens in her antique straight back chair with this confession. She is of the “Great Generation,” and still obedient to the rules of that culture. The use of illegal drugs makes her uncomfortable.
“But I did keep using it. I mean, why wouldn’t I? My daughter got me some and it helped. It got me through the god-awful drugs and made me feel almost human.”
I tell her one fear: that the use of marijuana may lead to other addictions.
“Oh poppycock,” she actually says, sitting straight up. Her eyes focus for the 1st time in our session.
“I have one glass of sherry every evening, and that’s it. I never had any interest in those treats after I got better. I’m more dependent on my sleep medication than those things.” Her eyes twinkle for a second. I can see that she was beautiful when she was young.
“You don’t have any on you, do you?” she asks, crossing her legs.