Author Laurel Dewey Talks About Her Exciting New Medical Cannabis Novel
David Fiedler | Jun 09, 2012 | Comments 0
Laurel Dewey is generally known to mystery buffs as the author of the Jane Perry detective series. But her new novel, Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden, is the first fictional book to take on medical cannabis without following the stereotypes of the last 75 years of government propaganda, and without being too preachy on either side. Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden is partly drama, partly romance, and thoroughly entertaining. And basically, as Laurel says, “It’s a love story about a woman, a man, and a plant.”
So here are some choice excerpts from an extensive telephone interview with Ms. Dewey, a woman who herself went from marijuana hater to medical cannabis supporter. It’s a fascinating story, possibly only topped by the Betty novel itself. Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden goes on sale June 12, and its compelling story may make it the book that changes the national conversation about cannabis.
Laurel Dewey: This book came about really from my own point of view, where I was like Betty, and really did believe the propaganda and did so for years. I believed that cannabis – I prefer to call it cannabis and not marijuana, because marijuana is the word the government used to demonize it – my point of view was the same as a lot of other people out there, who don’t know the facts, and they just parrot whatever they hear, and I did exactly that.
And that’s how the character Betty Craven was created. I wanted to pick the most opposite person from the stereotype. She’s Republican, she’s 58 years old, she’s a former pageant queen from Texas, she’s a widow who was married to a military man…as far as medical marijuana is concerned, she’s a fish out of water.
I made sure that Betty became a caregiver. I wanted to get across that subject that not too many people are familiar with. So many people know the dispensary model, where you go to a dispensary to get medical cannabis. But very few people seem to understand the whole caregiver/patient relationship model.
I wasn’t going to take it internally, [so] the first thing I did with the plant…I made a very simple salve with just the bud, some sweet leaf shake and coconut oil. And I was absolutely blown away. You put it on, and ten minutes later, what had been hurting wasn’t hurting as much. And then I saw it work on a burn. I saw the salve that I made work on my husband’s burn, and grow new skin almost overnight.
Alcohol makes you tune out. But cannabis allows you to tune in, if you’re willing to do so. And it doesn’t make you dwell on things, but it gives you a perspective that’s so necessary. That’s why it’s so helpful for people with PTSD, because it allows them to forget, but it also allows them to accept, on a very interesting level. I’ve seen it. It just blows my mind, how people can gradually move away from the shock, the trauma.
David Fiedler: You’re not turning into a zombie or a druggie, or anything like that, you’re just able to cope with it more, is that it?
Laurel Dewey: Obviously, people abuse it, and that has to be said. Just like people abuse alcohol. But that’s just a portion of society. And no, you don’t have to be a stoner. And the people who use it medically – and remember, my book is about medical marijuana – the last thing they want to do, the last thing they want to do is be a stoned person.
The entertainment industry needs to grow some testicles, and say, “Look, we have to stop showing this in movies, in the same cavalier way like the Cheech and Chong movies, where they’re smoking these big joints and the whole thing’s a joke.” If you’re going to make medical marijuana more acceptable to the mainstream population, you’ve got to get rid of that stoner perception. That’s the stigma that blocks a lot of people from taking anything having to do with cannabis seriously.
I’ve already had people who didn’t know what I was writing, a few people who were close to me. And they said, “What are you writing? Another Jane Perry book?” And I said, “No, actually, I’m writing a different novel.” “And what’s it about?” “Well…it’s about medical marijuana.” And I would have them look at me just dumbstruck. Literally, I had three people say this to me, who turned their lip up, and literally scowled, and said, “Why are you wasting your time writing a book about that?” And they said it in that exact way.
And, you know, that kind of stops the conversation. I’m not going to defend myself. I said, “Hey, it’s a good story. It’s not really a book about medical marijuana. It’s a love story about a woman, a man, and a plant.” And it really is.