Sacramento Bee digs deeper in “Can medical marijuana save a young boy’s life?”

Silas Hurd (Photo credit: Sacramento Bee)

Silas Hurd
(Photo credit: Paul Kitagaki, Sacramento Bee)

I enjoy my relationship with the Sacramento Bee’s editors, both in the newsroom and Op-Ed pages. They do a good job of reaching out, and I also like reading the newspaper.

Over the years, we have met and exchanged emails about blogging, western Nevada County’s political culture, and journalism, among other topics. (The Bee won another Pulitzer Prize this year).

We use some of the Bee’s photos in our magazine —from a review of Restaurant Trokay in Truckee to the Amgen Tour of California bike race, for example. We also have had some more personal discussions — about our recent “adventure” in exploring high schools for our son (Ghidotti and Nevada Union High in Grass Valley and Jesuit in Sacramento), for example. I’m glad we reach out to each other.

We have been out of town, but this week I received an email from the Bee’s Editor asking if I had read the newspaper’s recent, three-part series, “The Silas project.” The Bee was proud of the in-depth reporting, and I couldn’t agree more. I also have received positive email feedback from locals pointing to it.

The Silas project begins: “The first seizure struck when he was 3. Soon, Silas Hurd was having hundreds a month. Doctors would tell his parents, Forrest and Nicole, that their son had a rare and life-threatening form of epilepsy. The diagnosis set the family on a years-long journey to find a cure, one that has tested their courage, stretched their definition of medicine and put them on the front lines of a county fighting over its marijuana use.”

Writer Peter Hecht and photographer Paul Kitagaki go on to explore the Hurd’s journey — in words and in pictures — and in a “web friendly” format.

I told the Bee’s Editor it reminded me of a similar report by The Wall Street Journal called “Trials,” which focuses on the Hempel twins Addi and Cassi, who have a rare and incurable disease. We are friends with the Hempels. Check out this report too.

In both cases, the families have found that medical marijuana can be helpful for their children. More on the Hempels is “Why I changed my mind about medical cannabis.” We do not use marijuana and are concerned about its prevalence in our high schools, but we have learned from both families’ personal experiences.

The Bee’s report also does a good job exploring our town’s pot culture, including the role of the Sheriff and anti-marijuana activists, and political and cultural intolerance. “As the Hurds continued to experiment with marijuana tinctures to calm Silas’ resurging seizures, they found themselves drawn into a deepening rift over Nevada County’s pot culture. The sheriff was pushing to sharply restrict cultivation. Forrest and Nicole feared the worst for their son.” Here’s an excerpt:

Medicine of last resort

“Nicole said she is ‘incredibly proud’ of her husband ‘for standing up for Silas. But she has found the recent spotlight searing and painful. She takes offense at the local letters to the editor and online comments that portray her and Forrest as potheads or ‘hippies,’ when they are neither – ‘just regular people trying to help our kid.’

“Nicole Hurd says she is proud of her husband for waging a political battle on their son’s behalf. But she’s found some of the online comments about her family hurtful. ‘(We’re) just regular people, trying to help our kid,’ she said.

“Other exchanges have been more antagonistic. Nicole recently walked into the clubhouse at the Lake of the Pines Association, where she works as recreation coordinator. She froze. Sheriff Royal was giving his PowerPoint presentation in support of Measure W and the cultivation ban.

“She watched as he delivered his signature line: ‘This isn’t about medicine – it’s about money. ‘Not for us,’ she said aloud, shaking, then wheeled around and walked out.

“Nicole didn’t introduce herself to the sheriff. Royal said he never knew she was there.

“Silas’ parents have found some relief in knowing their child has been happily oblivious to the political dimensions his medicinal treatments have taken on. He continues to look forward to the two days a week he spends at Ridgeline Pediatric Day Health Center, a Grass Valley facility that provides day care and skilled nursing for children with developmental challenges.”

We wish the Hurds the best, and are grateful for the Bee’s reporting on our region.  As parents and residents, we found “The Silas Project” informative. Like other parents, most of us are “just trying to help our kids.” Here’s the father of Addi and Cassi Hempel on “Why I changed my mind about medicinal cannabis” in a TED talk:

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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7 Responses to Sacramento Bee digs deeper in “Can medical marijuana save a young boy’s life?”

  1. Brad Peceimer says:

    I have been honored and very happy to be involved with this family and their son Silas.

    Our work has greatly benefited this family, and I am truly hopeful that we will be able to continue this work into the future as we’re talking about keeping this boy alive and flourishing….

    This ballot measure make me truly sad as well as the fabricated stories that out Sheriff used in the commercial that I heard on KNCO earlier today.

    If there is a God, then I hope that he will ask him to explain his actions, as there is no excuse for the deceptions that I have seen.

  2. jeffpelline says:

    Brad,
    With all due respect, you also have played a role in the drama that caught the eye of the Bee!

  3. Laura Rose McLeod says:

    I too have followed the story regarding Silas and his family. My posts have been all over Facebook regarding a No vote on Measure W. I am very concerned over the attitude of our BOS and especially the Sheriff. This measure was placed on our ballots with absolutely no input from any of the people who grow, use or have any positive opinion regarding Marijuana – medical or otherwise. I’ve attended meetings and listened to the common folks who just want to grow and to the business people who want to make an honest business out of growing. Everyone I’ve met wants to comply to reasonable rules and regulations. This series has pointed out the long culture that Marijuana has had in our county, and shows how this issue has become a cultural war. It’s divided people who otherwise had a regard for one another. The Sheriff and the BOS have shown their true colors by ignoring the fact that there are people who sincerely need to grow for medicine, and calling the people voting No on Measure W, cowards, morons and idiots. I am proud and honored to know people like Brad Peceimer and Patricia Smith.

  4. jon smith says:

    Brad-
    Thank you so much for the work you’ve done. When I hear our constitutional sheriff whip out off the cuff remarks about how MJ doesn’t work or spouts profound knowledge how much tincture a plant makes and what dosing schedules should be, I can only shake my head in disgust. Just below a judge, this guy is supposed to represent truth and justice in our community. Instead he uses his position as a bully pulpit to spread self serving lies and disinformation. That he so flippantly dismisses the years of research you have put into the project is telling. Like so many weak and insecure people he hides behind a wall of arrogance and pomp. Rock on Brad.

  5. Annie Fox says:

    Brad, That article in the Bee was fantastic and I was so proud to see your name. I really appreciate all you do.

  6. Joe Koyote says:

    It all goes back to Nixon.. A recent article in Harpers quotes John Erlichman as saying that Nixon had two enemies, the anti-war movement and black people. So by associating the anti-war movement (hippies) with marijuana and black people with heroin and passing stiff laws for each they could use drug laws to infiltrate and co-opt the antiwar movement and the black power movements. He said the laws were never about the drugs but were about how the negative associations on the nightly news would undermine their enemies. Apparently the backwards thinkers behind W are still trying to use those tactics.

  7. Jon Shilling says:

    I feel some sympathy for Silas, his family, and every other real patient gaining benefit from medical marijuana. Unfortunately they are caught up in this battle. Both sides are responsible for this whole debacle. Hopefully Brad’s god will address all the deceptions.

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