Image via the Hackett family
Donna Hackett is a vocal and compassionate medical marijuana patient and advocate. Ask her about it, and she’ll tell you it’s a family affair.
For Hackett it began in 2007, when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. For help she turned to medical marijuana treatments in Rhode Island, a state in which she seemed to qualify for compassionate use. A Massachusetts native, Hackett experienced an even bigger health scare only a few months later, this time an aggressive Stage III breast cancer tumor that required surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Upon hearing the news, she turned to her son Robert and said, “We are going to need better pot if I’m going to make it through this.”
Robert was soon purchasing books, scouring High Times for cultivation tips, and growing quality medicine for his mom. He is a “natural gardener,” his mother says proudly.
In June of 2008, while Donna was still undergoing chemo and radiation treatments, the Hacketts were raided by a police drug task force. Somebody had snitched on them. Donna showed police her hospital paperwork, though at the time her doctors in Boston were not yet allowed to recommend in Rhode Island. With a twisted sense of minimal compassion, the cops seized most of her medicine, leaving just a few grams behind. Hackett says they told her that they realized she would need some for her next chemo treatment.
“My world was ripped apart,” she says all these years later. “I believed in the law, and that they wouldn’t prosecute a bald, broken cancer patient.” Donna continues: “I was diagnosed with PTSD and Fibromyalgia from the stress and assault on my system, and was going through excruciating side-effects from hormone treatments, when my lawyer took a plea. When I expressed my disgust to my lawyer, the plea that would harm my son’s future, he said, “Why are you mad? After all, you’re just a pot-smoking mom who was lucky enough to get cancer!”
Since slamming down the phone on her attorney, Hackett has committed all her spare energy to medical marijuana education and support. She is a legally registered patient in Rhode Island, and her son Robert is her registered caregiver. Furthermore, the Hackett family went on to successfully push an amendment to Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law that allows patients to receive recommendations from doctors in the Bay State. To this day she helps others as well.
“The first patient I delivered medicine to was a breast cancer patient like myself who worked in law enforcement,” Hackett says. “She was surprised at the fact that I wanted to help her, asked me if I held her job against her. I said, ‘No, do you hold it against me that I grow pot?’ I would sit with her when she had no one to accompany her to chemo. She passed away this last summer.”
Speaking about her former home, Massachusetts, Hackett says medical laws needs to be amended here as well. “Even if dispensaries open, many patients can’t afford the dispensary prices,” she says. “Mass needs [an] amendment that expressly allows caregivers, as it is in Rhode Island. Patients should be allowed choices and better prices. A caregiver system can provide that.”