“Rejecting opioids, pain patients find relief with marijuana” Boston Globe Review

“Rejecting opioids, pain patients find relief with marijuana”, written by Felice J. Freyer and Kay Lazar for the September 17th 2016 issue of the Boston Globe, has shown me some different styles of introducing a story that don’t seem to follow the typical “lead” format that I’ve seen in the past.

The story is the third part in a series about how people are dealing with chronic pain. These articles are not concurrent, the first two both being written and published in July, and were both written by Felice J. Freyer only. I didn’t realize that articles were sometimes written by more than one person and there’s no indication in the article of which author wrote what.

Freyer and Lazar begin the article not with a lead, but with an anecdote about an unlikely person, a middle aged Cambridge woman, preparing her own doses of cannabis oil. The anecdote ended with a quote highlighting how people you wouldn’t expect are turning to marijuana for pain relief. This quote then ties into the lead, which doesn’t come until the third paragraph.

The lead seems to be the entire third paragraph:

“But in 2015, she joined the thousands of people who have registered with the state to legally possess marijuana for medical purposes. And she is among an unknown number of people who use marijuana to quell chronic pain. For them, cannabis brings relief without the perils and discomforts of prescription opioids.”

Since the connections between the themes of the article aren’t really tied together in one sentence alone. The first sentence highlights the growing popularity of marijuana as a treatment and it isn’t until the second and third sentences that we’re told that the treatment is for chronic pain that prescription drugs aren’t alleviating.

I think that the journalists do a great job providing quotes from interesting, varied, and reputable sources that help establish and justify the article. There are also instances where a source is used but isn’t quoted. George Beilin, for example, is a psychologist whose quotes the authors used, “But the majority, he said, cannot afford the dispensaries and must obtain the drug on the street”, but there weren’t any quotations in the actual article. Is this because they didn’t actually interview him and got his quotes from a different source? Or did they interview him and are just rephrasing his words?

This article has definitely helped expand what I that was possible in reporting by doing a few things that were different from the conventions that I was used to. I hope to see more articles and stories like this in the future that are easy to read and meaningful while being interesting and different.


Freyer, Felice J., and Kay Lazar. “Rejecting Opioids, Pain Patients Find Relief with Marijuana.” Boston Globe. N.p., 17 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.


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