How easy is it for a middle-aged, middle-class Israeli to find some marijuana? Pretty easy, according to Ofer E., a Rosh Ha'ayin business consultant in his late 40s.
Ofer, who admits to smoking pot a couple of dozen times in his university days, and maybe 10 times in social occasions in the ensuing 25 years, says that he had never once bought the drug.
That all changed last month when his colleague and friend Idan told him some distressing news: Idan's wife Ayelet had suddenly been diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer and had immediately started chemotherapy. Idan related that Ayelet was in considerable pain from the cancer and was experiencing nausea from the chemo. Her doctors had told him that maybe some pot or hashish might help alleviate some of her discomfort.
Idan didn't want to spend the time applying for the medical marijuana program through the Health Ministry, and consulted with Ofer about what to do.
"I knew two people who I thought may still smoke and I called them. One didn't have any and said he would make some calls. The other, B., said he could probably get some and would call his supplier to see if he wanted to deal directly with me or not. B. said the minimal amount the supplier would deal with was five grams, which usually cost NIS 400," says Ofer.
B. got back to Ofer within a couple of hours and told him that the supplier wanted to work through B. for the five grams. A quick call from Ofer to Idan and one from Ofer to B. confirmed the clandestine deal.
"Idan began getting jittery and asked me questions like 'Where can I get rolling paper, do you think he can throw some in as a bonus?' recalls Ofer. "I told B that Idan might need a little guidance, that he or his wife hadn't smoked in 20-25 years."
B. replied that, indeed, the marijuana today was probably far stronger than what they remembered, and he passed on the message to Idan via Ofer that Idan shouldn't worry and that B. would take care of him.
"I put the two of them in touch and got out it, which was fine with me. I didn't really want to be the middleman, although I would have done it for Idan if he asked me," says Ofer.
That night, Idan and B. met and conducted the transfer - NIS 400 for five grams of marijuana. A few minutes later, Ofer received an SMS message from B. saying that everything had gone according to plan.
"Idan told me the next day that B. was extremely helpful, and took him to a nearby kiosk where he bought him some rolling papers," says Ofer.
When Ayelet underwent her next round of chemo, she smoked one of the marijuana cigarettes and experienced an easing of her symptoms. But her uneasiness at inhaling smoke and at doing something that's illegal prompted her to stop the experimentation.
"B. called me the other day and wanted to know how everything was going," says Ofer. "He asked if I thought it would OK if he called him. I think he really started caring about them."
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