Pubdate: Mon, 22 Feb 2016
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2016 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Eliot Kleinberg


Stockbroker Who Smokes Pot for Pain Relief Says Latest Referendum Not Enough.

Irvin Rosenfeld believes the latest attempt to legalize medical 
marijuana in Florida will pass. But he doesn't believe it does 
enough. He wants everyone to be able to grow their own pot. Not for 
partying. For medicine.

The Boca Raton stockbroker knows all about it. He turns 63 on Friday. 
For a third of his life, he's smoked up to 10 joints a day for which 
he doesn't pay. Your taxes do.

His body has been racked with 200-some bone tumors since he was a 
child in southeast Virginia; the pain and constant surgeries required 
he be home schooled through high school.

Without cannabis, he says, he likely would be paralyzed by now, or at 
least would be blocked by pain from leading a normal life, much less 
selling stocks.

Since November 1982, Rosenfeld has received a tin a month containing 
300 joints of pot grown by the federal government in a secret farm in 

He was one of 13 people in the nation getting the federally supplied 
cannabis that year. They were grandfathered in when the program was 
shut down in 1992. Now two remain. The other's a 73-year-old woman 
with glaucoma in Oregon. Rosenfeld figures his out-of-pocket expense 
for more than three decades probably would have totaled more than $1 million.

What he calls "my medicine" - that was the title of his 2010 memoir - 
has gotten him hassled, kicked off planes, forced to go without for 
days and even arrested. But over the years, he's at times been met 
with no resistance. And it's also made him an ardent advocate, giving 
speeches and testifying at hearings. And a bit of a celebrity.

While boarding a plane on Jan. 30 in Jacksonville after a business 
trip, Rosenfeld ran the marijuana tin through security. He said when 
the Transportation Security Administration agent spotted his name on 
the prescription label, "he said, 'I saw you on the Discovery 
Channel.' He put the top back on and said, 'Have a good day.'"

On a recent weekday morning outside his office building near the Town 
Center mall, Rosenfeld sat at a patio table, smoking pot and talking 
about the recent efforts in Florida to expand the availability of 
medical marijuana.

In the spring of 2014, the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott 
signed a law that allows the tightly regulated production and sales 
of non-euphoric type of medical marijuana for a limited range of 
cancer and seizure patients, but the state Health Department has not 
been able to get the system up and running since.

That same year, Amendment 2, which would have made any kind of 
medical marijuana legal for a broad variety of patients, went on the 
November ballot but fell two percentage points short of 60 percent 
needed for passage.

Rosenfeld supported that ballot measure, as he does a new one, 
cleared in December to appear on the November 2016 ballot. It is 
similar to the 2014 measure but changes to the ballot language 
tightened descriptions about what medical conditions would make a 
patient eligible for using marijuana.

He said he believes the numbers of those for and against likely 
hasn't changed a lot since 2014, but that more young people will turn 
out this year because it is a presidential election, and that will 
push the vote in favor of the marijuana amendment.

"Just give our patients the same rights that the federal government 
has given Irvin," he recalled telling Amendment 2 supporters to stress in 2014.

Saying that opponents, including the 63 of 67 Florida sheriffs who 
opposed Amendment 2, "are at A and I'm at Z," he said, "Meet me 
halfway. The fact that I've used this for 33-and-a-third years, 
doesn't that count for anything?"

Not everyone agrees it does.

The proposed 2016 initiative "still commercializes marijuana, 
creating a big marijuana industry, and gives immunity to physicians 
recommending the drug," Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free 
America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs said in a Jan. 28 
press release. "This initiative still allows anyone at any age to get 
pot under the guise of medicine for any reason. Nothing much has 
changed." + Bruce Bennett

Dr. Eric Voth, a Topeka, Kansas-based internal medicine, pain and 
addiction specialist and chair of the Institute on Global Drug Policy 
of the Drug-Free America Foundation, also opposes the referendum 
efforts, saying pot is many times more powerful than it was in the 
1960s and 1970s and that it's impossible to scientifically determine 
the proper dose.

"We do not have medicine by popular vote," he said.

Voth also said he believes the ultimate goal of Amendment 2-style 
movements is to legalize marijuana for everyone.

Rosenfeld is fine with that. He is on board with a new outfit, 
Regulate Florida, which is pushing for a 2018 statewide vote to make 
marijuana possession by all adults legal. It also would let them grow 
their own, something the 2016 proposal still would ban, requiring 
expensive marijuana purchases.

Rosenfeld said medical marijuana needs to be financially accessible 
to the people who really need it.

"Real patients are on disability and they can barely afford food," he 
said. "You're telling them to spend $300 to $500 a month for 
medicine, and they don't have the money. What good is it going to do them?"

Rosenfeld fills his days with something that's been illegal for many 
people for many years. But when he was a high school student, doctors 
doped him up with legal morphine, Quaaludes. Demerol and more, he said.

It wasn't until he fell to peer pressure as a student at Miami-Dade 
Junior College that he realized the therapeutic value of marijuana. 
He said it had no effect "until about the 10th time," when he 
suddenly realized he'd gone 30 minutes without having to walk around 
to clear the pain.

Besides his marijuana cigarettes, he lately has starting smoking an 
e-cigarette, filled with oils generated by cooking down marijuana in 
a crock pot. That way he can get his medicine even at staff meetings.

"It's not as effective. At least I don't think so," Rosenfeld said. 
"But it's better than nothing."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom