by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News

Sometime during the late 1980s, a Sunday talk show featured a “debate” on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. The person against such legalization came up with an unintentionally silly line, “I wouldn’t want to be on a plane with a pilot using marijuana.”

Well, he wouldn’t want to be on a plane with an alcoholic pilot either, and alcohol is legal. So legality has nothing to do with individual judgment or airline rules. That was a good example of a straw man argument. Such straw man arguments are common when it comes to discussions on marijuana, medical or otherwise.

What was impressive then was the pro-medical marijuana advocate. He was a stock broker in South Florida who smoked 10 to 12 cannabis cigarettes daily. It was amazing that he could talk with anyone on a live TV telecast and argue his point. Advising clients on investment choices seemed to be even more ridiculous. But it turns out to be true.

Meet Irvin Rosenfeld, Pot Smoking Financial Consultant and Medical Marijuana Activist

Irvin Rosenfeld wasn’t merely a pothead. He was diagnosed with a rare bone disease called hereditary multiple exostoses (HME) at the age of 10. The pain from the bone tumors, usually non-cancerous, irritating skin and muscle tissue could only be made manageable with dangerously addictive narcotic prescriptions.

When he entered college during the 1970s, he began smoking pot to be accepted by his peers. He didn’t really care for it. He thought it was “garbage.” He was just being social.

But one day after smoking cannabis he sat to play chess. After a half-hour or so, he realized that he hadn’t used his prescribed medications and he had been sitting comfortably in one position the whole time. That was unusual for him. That’s when marijuana became his exclusive medicine without needing pharmaceuticals.

He remained in South Florida where he had graduated from college because he prefers warm weather and likes to sail. Florida is still relatively backward and resistive when it comes to medical marijuana. Irvin didn’t want his cannabis medicine to create legal issues that would interfere with his budding financial career.

Irvin searched and discovered a federally sponsored program called the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, or Compassionate IND.

Enter the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program

In 1982, Irvin had successfully petitioned into this program, allowing him to receive government grown and supplied cannabis on a monthly basis, 300 perfectly rolled marijuana cigarettes every 25 days. His monthly supply was guaranteed under this unusual program that had an even more unusual beginning.

As of 2014, Irvin was one of four of remaining recipients among the original medical marijuana patients who still receive their monthly marijuana from the federal government. It’s unconfirmed whether there are currently two or three survivors, but Irvin is definitely still one of them. The program stopped taking applicants in 1992 when Bush Sr. decided to look tough on drugs.

The Compassionate IND program started soon after the case of Robert Randall. Randall, now deceased, was a glaucoma sufferer arrested in the 1970s for growing and using cannabis to relieve his attacks of extreme pain and visual distortion.

Randall used the legal argument based on the Common Law doctrine of necessity, especially medical necessity, to argue that laws against cannabis cultivation were voided by this earlier common law. On November 24, 1976, federal Judge James Washington ruled:

While blindness was shown by competent medical testimony to be the otherwise inevitable result of the defendant’s disease, no adverse effects from the smoking of marijuana have been demonstrated…Medical evidence suggests that the medical prohibition is not well-founded.

The charges against Randall were dropped by all the government agencies involved, and for publicly announcing his victory and guaranteed supply of marijuana from this same government, his supply was shut off. A legal team represented Randal pro bono publico (free for the public good) on his follow-up suit in 1978.

Not only did Randall get his cannabis back, but the Compassionate IND program was formed to supply medical marijuana to applicants deemed worthy. The program peaked during the 1980s AIDs epidemic. But by 1992, George Bush Sr. wanted to look tough on drugs and the Compassionate IND program stopped taking applicants.

Possibly motivated by the history of lawsuits won by Robert Randall, the medical marijuana supply from the University of Mississippi continued by grandfathering only those already established in the program. Irvin’s arrangement with the Compasionate IND program and the DEA allows him to smoke marijuana wherever smoking tobacco is permitted.

He has been stopped by police a few times, but the federal papers he carries protect him. Only once, in Orlando, did he spend a short time in jail because he had forgotten to carry those papers. He was released upon having someone retrieve them and present them to the local police.

Irvin Rosenfeld’s Current Medical Marijuana Activism

Irvin does care that everyone should have cannabis as a medical option. As a pioneer in presenting evidence to government groups and voters throughout the nation, he actively continues pursuing that goal of getting medical marijuana approved federally.

But living in the restrictive state of Florida has forced him to fight the good fight to also free himself from the low THC level Mississippi grown government distributed marijuana. If medical marijuana is legalized in Florida, or better yet federally, Irving would like to avail himself to other forms and strains of cannabis to improve his hereditary multiple exostoses (HME).

Irvin claims even the relatively low THC cannabis smoked often not only relieves his pain, but it has helped contain his bone tumor growth as well. He suspects cannabis oils may be even better for his medical condition.

Two Major Examples from Irvin’s Overt Use

It’s obvious that he is able to function in the highly demanding financial consulting field with a stockbroker license even while using cannabis medically. It’s also obvious that his daily driving is not impaired when smoking the “weed.” Alcohol is much worse for driving, especially mixed with pain killing pharmaceuticals.

His situation serves as another example of how long term cannabis use doesn’t create adverse health effects. Smoking cannabis has been popularly regarded as a lung cancer threat. But untreated cannabis grown without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers has been proven by a 2007 American Association of Cancer Research report to cut “… tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread.” (Source)

Commercially sold cigarettes are saturated with upwards of 600 chemicals with tobacco that is radioactive from the fertilizers used. It’s no wonder cigarette smoking is hazardous for your health. But both cigarettes and alcohol are legal federally, while even medical marijuana use is federally taboo.

Progress has been made to reduce the “Reefer Madness” stigma in half of our nation’s states now, thanks to medical marijuana activists like Irvin Rosenfeld, whose book My Medicine tells his 34 year history of legal cannabis use added to his illegal college days in greater detail.