Monday, December 3, 2007

Author: Tony Germanotta

Cited: Patients Out of Time

Cited: Drug Policy Alliance Conference Agenda

Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


ON NOV. 20, PORTSMOUTH NATIVE Irvin Rosenfeld marked a bittersweet milestone.


Rosenfeld, 54, opened a tin from his pharmacist and lit up a 

government-issued marijuana cigarette. It was his 25th year in a rare 

"compassionate use" program ostensibly studying the efficacy of pot 

as medicine.


For Rosenfeld, who suffers from a condition that causes painful 

tumors to grow on all the long bones of his body, marijuana has been 

a life saver. Because of it, he no longer needs the debilitating 

narcotics that used to leave him in a stupor but didn't blunt the agony.


Although he smokes a dozen of the free marijuana cigarettes a day, he 

said he has never gotten high from the drug.


Rosenfeld sent out invitations to the media last month to "come smoke 

a federal government 'joint' with Irv" as a way to celebrate his 

silver anniversary and drum up interest in legalizing medical marijuana use.


No reporters or camera people showed up in the board room of the 

Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he said.


"It shows the apathy," Rosenfeld said from the brokerage firm in 

Florida where he has worked for more than two decades. These days, he 

said, there has to be a crisis to get media interest in his cause.


Rosenfeld is the longest living of the federal government's medical 

marijuana recipients. Once there were 13 in the exclusive club; there 

are only five left. No new participants have been allowed since 1992, 

but those in the system still are supplied marijuana grown at the 

University of Mississippi and rolled into cigarettes in North Carolina.


Rosenfeld has been campaigning for decades to get the federal 

government to reclassify marijuana as a controlled substance that can 

be used by anyone with a doctor's prescription.


He was the second person in America to get a federal license to smoke 

marijuana. The first, Robert Randall, a glaucoma and later an AIDS 

patient, died in 2001, the only other person to legally cross the 

quarter-century mark.


Rosenfeld is on the board of a group, Patients Out of Time, that 

advocates a change in federal law, and, as Randall did before him, 

often speaks on behalf of medical marijuana.


On Wednesday, Rosenfeld is scheduled to address a conference in New 

Orleans by the Drug Policy Alliance.


He also has been writing a book on his efforts, tentatively titled 

"Pot Luck: How I Convinced the U.S. Government to Provide My Medical 

Marijuana and Started a National Movement."


Filmmaker Oliver Stone is interested in optioning the book, which is 

about 90 percent finished, Rosenfeld said.


It begins with his family learning, when he was 10, that he had 

multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis and pseudo pseudo 



Rosenfeld, who is married and has no children, returns to Portsmouth 

regularly to visit his 88-year-old father and two sisters.


"I'm still doing great," Rosenfeld said. "I no longer run the bases 

in softball. I was tearing muscles." So he utilizes a pinch runner so 

he can continue playing the field and hitting, he said. Before 

marijuana, he had been forced to give up all sports.


He also teaches sailing to the handicapped and disadvantaged with an 

organization in Miami. It's a way of giving back, and he gets a lot 

of pleasure as well.


"Shake-A-Leg is the greatest," he said of the group. "If you feel 

down, you go to Shake-A-Leg and you can't feel down." 

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