Federal Marijuana Patient Safe From The DEA


Photo: Michael McElroy/Miami New Times
Irv fires up a federal joint. He works at Fort Lauderdale’s New Bridge Securities, where he is senior vice-president of the stock trading firm. Yeah, his boss is cool with it.

‚ÄčThe next time someone tells you the FDA says marijuana isn’t medicine, remind them that Irvin Rosenfeld gets his weed from the federal government.

Irv tokes up every day in the parking lot of Fort Lauderdale’s New Bridge Securities, which shares a building with the local offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration. And the DEA can’t touch him.
“Marijuana is fantastic medicine,” Rosenfeld said. “Doctors should be allowed to prescribe it nationwide.”

Rosenfeld, who at age 10 was diagnosed with a genetic disease that causes tumors to grow at the ends of his bones, was taking all kinds of narcotics as a kid. But as a 19-year-old who had just moved to Florida on his doctor’s advice, who felt the warm weather would do his body good, Irv accidentally discovered in 1971 that marijuana worked way better than the prescriptions he’d been taking.

“I couldn’t sit in one place for more than 10 minutes due to the pain caused by my disease,” Rosenfeld said. “After I took my first hit, I played chess for close to 30 minutes. I didn’t feel any discomfort.”
Rosenfeld was able to greatly reduce his intake of heavy narcotics with the help of marijuana. He decided to make the case before the federal government that he should be allowed to find relief through cannabis.
With the help of his doctor, Irv argued before a panel of 20 doctors assigned by the Food and Drug Administration to hear cases from individuals seeking approval to use marijuana for medical purposes.
And guess what? It worked. In 1982, Rosenfeld became one of only two people in the entire U.S. at the time to get the federal government’s OK to smoke pot. That number grew to almost 30 before President George H. Bush, alarmed by the influx of HIV patients who benefited from marijuana, decided to abruptly and without explanation shut down the federal medical marijuana program in the early 1990s.
Fortunately, Rosenfeld and the original dozen patients were grandfathered in, and the five survivors continue to get their grass from a farm run by the feds at the University of Mississippi.
Every 25 days, Irv gets a metal tin from the federal government. It contains 300 joints. (Incidentally, having the government documentation of his 10 joints a day for 28 years means Irv holds the documented record for “Most Joints Smoked,” at 102,200 — a high honor indeed. Sure, you may have smoked more joints — but do you have the documentation to prove it?)
Read more about federal medical marijuana patient Irv Rosenfeld at our sister Village Voice Media blog, Miami New Times, in Francisco Alvarado’s great article, “Medical marijuana: Taking a legal toke.”