Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jun 2014
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Jan Hefler
Page: B1
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


During the last 32 years, stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld has smoked 
130,000 marijuana cigarettes - with the federal government's blessing.

As jaws dropped in a Harrisburg legislative chamber filled with state 
senators, Rosenfeld made the remark Tuesday and then held up a silver 
canister containing 300 pre-rolled joints, a month's supply.

He continues to receive the canisters from a government-authorized 
farm in Mississippi to help treat a rare bone-tumor disorder. This 
despite the drug's classification by the Drug Enforcement 
Administration as a top-tier hazardous substance with no medicinal value.

"I'm living proof of the hypocrisy of the federal government," 
Rosenfeld, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told the Law and 
Justice Committee, which is considering a bill to legalize medical 
marijuana. If the bill is fast-tracked - some senators said they want 
it released to the floor by the end of the month - Pennsylvania would 
vie with several other states to become the 23d to allow cannabis to 
be sold for medical purposes.

New Jersey has had a stumbling marijuana program since 2010, and 
Delaware is in the process of implementing one. Florida is among 
several states where voters will decide the issue in ballot 
initiatives this year.

Rosenfeld is also actively lobbying for the medical marijuana 
referendum in his state. Polls show 66 percent of the state's voters 
favor it, but he worries that a reelection victory by Republican Gov. 
Rick Scott could undo the effort.

"Scott will do the same thing as [Gov.] Christie did in New Jersey," 
he said in an interview, adding that overly strict regulations have 
excluded many sick people from getting access to cannabis. "We'll end 
up with only four dispensaries around the state and only three 
strains that are allowed."

When Christie inherited the program from outgoing Gov. Jon S. Corzine 
- - who signed the marijuana bill on his last day in office - he said 
he never would have approved it. His administration imposed tight 
controls, and he has said he wants to prevent those who are not truly 
sick from obtaining the drug.

Rosenfeld is one of two federal medical marijuana patients 
nationwide. Republican Sen. Mike Folmer, a sponsor of the bill in 
Harrisburg, had invited him to testify. Folmer said he wanted the 
committee to be educated about medical marijuana.

After Rosenfeld spoke, Folmer asked, incredulously, how the federal 
government could simultaneously classify marijuana as a "schedule I 
drug [with] no medicinal use" that's not even worth testing, and 
still supply it to him for medical reasons.

Rosenfeld was approved for the Compassionate Investigative New Drug 
program in 1982 and then was grandfathered into receiving a 
continuing supply when the program was shut down a decade later 
during the government's war on drugs.

Rosenfeld said he has never gotten high from the 10 joints he smokes 
daily and believes his body consumes it as a muscle relaxant, pain 
reliever, and antiinflammatory agent.

Diagnosed when he was 10 with multiple hereditary exostoses, a 
genetic condition in which painful bone tumors multiply throughout 
the body, Rosenfeld said his first doctors had warned he might not 
live past his teenage years.

"This is not the harmful drug the government makes it out to be and 
the government has been lying to us, all these decades," Rosenfeld 
said in an interview.

He underwent several surgeries to remove the tumors and was 
prescribed a morphine derivative and various other addicting narcotics.

While experimenting with cannabis during his college years, he 
discovered he was able to sit for longer periods without pain and his 
tumors were decreasing in number.

"It's amazing how well it works," Rosenfeld said. He said that he has 
undergone various tests and his lungs and brain have not shown any 
signs of being compromised by the drug.

The program started in 1976 when Robert Randall, a glaucoma patient, 
sued the government, saying cannabis was preventing him from losing 
his sight. A federal judge agreed. Rosenfeld became the second 
patient after spending a decade appealing to the federal Food and 
Drug Administration to be part of a cannabis research program.

In 1992, then President George H.W. Bush shut it down and allowed 
only the 13 patients involved to continue to participate, Rosenfeld said.

Musikka Elvy, who lives in Oregon, is the only other federal cannabis 
patient currently in the program. She uses it to treat glaucoma.

Rosenfeld said that the marijuana that he and Elvy receive is grown 
at a government farm at the University of Mississippi.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom