The Federal Government Recognized the Health Benefits of Medical Marijuana 40 Years Ago

The fascinating story of Irvin Rosenfeld, one of only four people in the United States who the federal government provides medical marijuana to, and has been for the last 40 years.

| July/August 2013

  • Man Holding Marijuana Plant
    As long as he lives and breathes and talks—and Irv likes to talk—he will serve as a reminder that the federal government has already admitted cannabis has medicinal uses. Yet the plant continues to be labeled as Schedule I substance under federal law, meaning it has “no accepted medical use.”
    Photo By H. Lee
  • Dirty Hands
    Randall underwent testing to prove that no other glaucoma drug effectively halted the deterioration of his eyesight. He then used the “common law doctrine of necessity” to argue against his marijuana-cultivation charges, because the drug was a medical necessity. He won. The federal government started shipping him ten joints a day from the farm in Mississippi.
    Photo By H. Lee
  • Potted Pot
    A month and a half after the hearing, the federal government sent Irv a tin stuffed with 300 rolled marijuana cigarettes. To this day he remains a walking symbol of the federal government’s hypocrisy regarding the plant.
    Photo By H. Lee

  • Man Holding Marijuana Plant
  • Dirty Hands
  • Potted Pot

Before I started moving drugs across state lines, my research started out much more innocently. Where and when it actually began is a bit nebulous, but perhaps it’s best to start here: I’m on a boat with a man smoking a joint. It’s a spectacular sun-breezy day in southeast Florida. The man smoking the joint is a successful stockbroker. He owns this boat. He is a regular guy—clean-shaven with short cropped hair, wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and a pair of black Crocs. I would like to have a drag of his joint, but I can’t. Technically, he is one of only four people in the United States of America that is allowed to smoke a joint here. And by here, I mean the United States of America.

Make no mistake: The reason I can’t smoke his joint has nothing to do with any personal moral concerns. It’s just that he won’t give it to me. And he shouldn’t, because it was given to him as medicine by the federal government. Just to make sure, and because he seems to be relishing this joint so flagrantly, I ask the man if I could, under any circumstances, share it with him.

“No, you could never smoke mine,” he explains. “To anyone who ever asks, ‘Could I have any?’ my answer is: ‘You’re undercover DEA.’”

“Got it,” I say.

I steal a look at him, using my sunglasses as a shield. On closer scrutiny, maybe he isn’t a regular guy. He does have some irregularities. He is short—5’5” at best—in a way that suggests stunted growth. His right ankle is wrapped, which draws your attention to his legs. And they are noticeably knock-kneed, with peculiar bumpiness about them.

The man’s name is Irvin Rosenfeld. He is telling me how it is that he came to look this way, and why he’s allowed to smoke this joint. He says it started in Little League baseball. He was 10 years old, playing shortstop.

6/21/2013 1:51:16 AM

gee trhanks there pastor freddie, if all i have to do is sit still...a fine read, hard to criticize yet harder to understand. on the one hand try to find the topic sentence per paragraph and i understand why it might take 8 pages to get out a message, reads more like a novel - but i read only 2-3 and this is what i got: "the cannabis plant has no medicinal 'value'"; a fact, and neither does the poppy or the aguave or a tincture of rhinosaurus horn - all depends on your level of scientific exploration and expertise...the debate rages on. for some the botanical/agricultural manure of a 'silly' plant is all thats neccessary to put down roots and make a go of it, others (the vast majority most often refered to as government) are probably gonna whitewash the entire issue with socio economic / scientific / ethno cultural babel that makes a noontime dube (or a handful more of that demoral) all the more...soothing? comforting? neccessity? preventative? i said, the debate rages on. i didnt accept it, 4 days of intraveinous opium derivated drip, immobilized flat on my back in a northern euro medivac, hoping the hoof i wrapped back into place somewhere near where it was supposed to be was ever gonna be the 'same' - there really is no definition of pain when shock, ignorance and fear is the only company ya got. it's not too hard to imagine - i wasnt feeling a friggin thing, until i tried to focus on something around me moving faster than a heart beat. somewhere out there, im pretty sure, a windshield still has a glom of vomit with the pain perscription pasted to it - doctors orders: he who makes a beast of himself gets ride of....the pain of being a man.

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