The first time Lenny called, we could hardly make out his words. You get the call, see the address is a residential motel not far from Skid Row and you start to assume the worst. But Lenny was the best. He was a Gulf War veteran, slight, humble, bravely fighting through a wave of afflictions at his local V.A. hospital, where he had many appointments every week. It was the synthetic drugs that caused him to slur. But when he could afford it, even if it meant borrowing money from the blind loan shark who’d once killed a man, Lenny would give us a call and ask if we could bring him some Granddaddy Purple or Purple Kush–strains that were good for sleep, appetite and pain.
Lenny lived in a tiny little room on the third floor of a run-down old building. The bathroom was far down the hall and Lenny limped with a cane. His heater was always cranked to the max, regardless of the season, because the chemicals they’d exposed him to while he was serving in the Army caused him to develop cancer. Even so, Lenny flew the flag on his door. He wasn’t one to hold grudges.
We felt awful charging Lenny money for anything. He is the inspiration behind this program. We wanted to give him free medicine and sometimes we succeeded. Even when we didn’t, he always thanked us for taking the time and cutting our prices as much as we could. Over the course of two years, things started looking up for Lenny. We watched his cancer go into remission. He began to gain weight and we smiled as the color returned to his cheeks. His eyes, so deeply set when we met him, began to sparkle with the recognition that his life was his own again.
Just months after the cancer receded, Lenny died suddenly. Some men jumped him on the street as he was limping along late at night on his cane and beat him to death. We’re told that he went quickly, as if someone turned out a light. We hope he didn’t suffer and that he’s gone to a better place.
We dedicate Cannabis Cares to Lenny, and to everyone who fights for their health and dignity everyday. It’s easy to be cynical when talking about medical marijuana, focus on those not truly in need. But there are thousands who are desperately in need. People like Lenny who are deserving of our attention and compassion. We’re grateful we had the chance to meet him and help him, and we hope in some small way we were able to give him some peace and comfort and a little shelter through the storm.