A Setback for Medical Marijuana

A Setback for Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on June 08, 2005 at 22:06:08 PT
By Michael Mayo, News Columnist
Source: Sun-Sentinel
Florida -- "Time for my medicine," Irvin Rosenfeld said.Just past 1 p.m. Tuesday, Rosenfeld stepped away from his desk at Newbridge Securities in Fort Lauderdale, went to a bench in the parking garage one floor below and whipped out a plastic bag containing eight fat joints.
He lit up, puffed away and detailed his daily intake: he smokes two or three joints when he wakes up, one before work, one at 10:30 a.m., two after lunch, one after the stock market closes, one at quitting time and another two or three between dinner and bedtime.His marijuana source: the federal government.The same federal government that prevailed in the Supreme Court a day earlier against medical marijuana initiatives in 10 states. The same federal government that classifies pot as a Schedule 1 drug, on par with heroin and LSD. The same federal government whose current drug czar, John Walters, demonizes marijuana as an addictive, dangerous substance without merit. Yet, Rosenfeld is one of seven Americans whom the government allows to legally smoke pot. He has been in an experimental medical program since 1982. The program was closed to new patients in 1992. Monday's Supreme Court ruling will not affect Rosenfeld, although he worries about the Bush administration halting the program."It's a godsend for me," Rosenfeld, 52, said, explaining that marijuana has been the only effective pain reliever for his chronic bone tumor condition, congenital cartilaginous exostosis. His body is peppered with 200 hardened tumors. I touch one near his wrist. It feels like a golf ball.Rosenfeld is short and slight, with arms bowed and a bandage around his right ankle from his condition. He has a good sense of humor, but the stockbroker would rather not hear the jokes about buying low and selling high. He insists the drug does not impair him. "I don't get high," Rosenfeld said. "I just feel better."After smoking a second joint, his seventh of the day, Rosenfeld asked, "Are my eyes bloodshot?" They weren't. He is disappointed by Monday's ruling, saddened that thousands of patients with cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating, deadly conditions will have to fear prosecution to reap marijuana's benefits.Drug czar Walters argues patients can take a pill with synthetic THC, one of marijuana's active ingredients, instead of smoking the drug, but Rosenfeld said that's not the case. Many patients use pot for its anti-nausea effects, and some would vomit a pill up before it absorbs through the stomach.Rosenfeld said the pill doesn't replicate the plant, which has 450 chemical agents, including muscle relaxants that he says prevents the tumors from breaking off and causing ruptures and blood clots."I wish Walters would debate me," Rosenfeld said. "But when I saw him this year, he wouldn't even talk to me."That was at the Illinois Statehouse, where Rosenfeld traveled to testify in favor of a medical marijuana bill. As Walters scare-mongered that marijuana often led to crack and methamphetamine abuse, Rosenfeld took out his pot container.One of Walters' entourage descended upon him."I'm a federal marshal," the man said. "What's in that can?""I'm a federal patient," Rosenfeld snapped back. "That's marijuana."His supply is grown at the University of Mississippi, then sent to a clinic at the University of Miami. Every month he gets a container with 300 joints, about 13 ounces. He doesn't pay a dime.With the help of pot, Rosenfeld said he's been able to lead a full, productive life. He is married, but has no children because he is afraid of passing on his hereditary condition. He plays softball and is an avid sailor. A stockbroker for 18 years, he handles millions of dollars in investments and informs potential clients about his situation. He has smoked pot regularly for 30 years. The last time he didn't smoke was 12 years ago, when he went to Vancouver for a two-day shareholder meeting and the Canadian government wouldn't allow him to bring his marijuana into the country."By the second day, I was moving so slowly I was afraid to walk," he said.To take part in the experimental program, he had to sign a waiver promising not to sue the government if he developed lung cancer."Lung cancer? I should live so long," he laughed.Rosenfeld has a challenge for President Bush: Reopen the experimental program to 50 independent research centers with 50 patients each, then conduct a three-year study on medical marijuana's effects."If the study shows marijuana is harmful, then take my medicine away and I'll shut up," Rosenfeld said. "But if the reports prove me right, then allow this once and for all and apologize."He took another toke, but he wasn't holding his breath.Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel (FL)Author: Michael Mayo, News ColumnistPublished: June 9, 2005Copyright: 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel Contact: mmayo sun-sentinel.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Patients Out of Time Americans Get To Smoke Pot in Federal Program Detained After Bill Sinks in Committee Marijuana Users Look To Change Law 
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