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Last-Minute Plans: The Blisters Benefit Concert For Michelle DiGiacomo

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 16, 2012 11:20PM

2012_11_16_blisters.jpg Between Mick Dumke, Ben Joravsky and Michael Miner, the Reader has been banging the drum loudly on the subject of marijuana decriminalization in Chicago. A few weeks back Miner profiled Michelle DiGiacomo, who was arrested for ordering nearly 1.5 pounds of medical marijuana from a California grower that was shipped to a UPS storefront in North Center.

What makes DiGiacomo’s story stand out among similar stories are two things: she has signed letters from two doctors who confirm she suffers from a medley of ailments so severe she needs cannabis to relieve her pain; and she’s executive director of Direct Effect Charities, a non-profit that, in addition to its other programs, took over the annual “Letters to Santa” campaign of the late Sun-Times advice columnist Jeff Zaslow after he was fired in 2001.

DiGiacomo suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis, cervical spine disease, rotator cuff disease, torn biceps, and fibromyalgia. (Instead of smoking, she adds medical marijuana to balms and rubs that require more pot than if she inhaled.) Chicago police raided her home and arrested her in front of her daughter, while the DEA impounded her car, which was loaded with school supplies earmarked for needy students. Direct Effect Charities, like many non-profits, operates hand-to-mouth—DiGiacomo often barely has enough money to make her own rent and pay her bills.

Years ago, Direct Effect Charities caught the attention of Spencer Tweedy (yes, Jeff’s son) who sits behind the drum kit for the teen band The Blisters. The Blisters set up a benefit concert/underwear and socks drive for Direct Effect in 2004. Not wanting the arrest to affect donations to her non-profit, DiGiacomo wrote about it and her plight in her newsletter. Tweedy emailed her back, set up a website to popularize her story and a PayPal account to raise funds for her, and is the driving force behind a benefit concert 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Beat Kitchen. The all ages show will feature The Blisters, The Boxers, and The Ungnomes. Tickets may be purchased online here, but feel free to give more.