Marijuana and the Two Faces of American Justice


Robert Platshorn spreads the truth about cannabis through The Silver Tour, even as he battles cancer. Now the federal government has moved to silence him, and has forbidden him to use the only medicine that helps

Sunlight Into Darkness

By Robert Platshorn
The Silver Tour
After spending almost 30 years in prison for importing marijuana, I met Tony, who was to be my parole officer for the next three-plus years. A big, strong guy in his late 40s, he looked like the kind of fed I had hoped never to see again. 
For the first year, it was touch and go. Tony was trying to convince me he was a decent human being and me confident that he was just waiting for a chance to put the Tuna back in the can. 

Score one for Tony! For the first year while I was finishing my book, he allowed me to travel to earn a living in my old profession as a pitchman. He visited once a month, gave me the required number of piss tests and tried not to interfere with my reclaiming some sort of life for Lynne and myself in our few remaining years.

Black Tuna Diaries

I am now almost 70. At the end of that first year, he announced that the piss tests were over and wished me luck promoting my memoir, Black Tuna Diaries, and the upcoming documentary film telling my story, Square Grouper.
Tony knew that I would have to travel frequently to book signings, speaking gigs and promotions for the movie. His only admonishment was that I let him know when and where I had to travel, and to call him when I returned and let him know that I was alright.
I came to learn that his concern was genuine. Tony never felt it necessary to issue formal travel permits and just wanted enough paperwork to cover his butt.
Two Deadly Diseases

For the next two years, life on parole was tolerable. After serving two years on parole, Tony put me in for early release. It took months for the US Parole Commission to respond.
In the meantime, both Tony and I were having serious health issues.
He developed aspergoliosis, a deadly lung infection. I was paying the price for years out on the ocean fishing. Skin cancers were popping out on my body like zits on a teenager.
At each monthly visit, Lynne and I could see Tony wasting away as a result of massive doses of chemo that didn’t seem to be working. By then, we regarded him as a friend and we were concerned.


He in turn was concerned about a large carcinoma that had been removed by a Moh’s procedure from my right calf and refused to heal. When it was clear that the wound wouldn’t close and the cancer was returning on the edge of the wound, I told Tony that I intended to try treating it with cannabis oil.
He raised no objection!
I already had a doctor’s recommendation and managed to get a small amount of real Phoenix Tears while visiting Michigan, where it is legal. After three days, the wound was growing fresh skin, not scar tissue, and the cancer began to turn black and die.
On his next visit, I showed Tony the healing progress. He was pleased for me. Lynne and I, on the other hand, were becoming worried about Tony.
He was on six courses of chemotherapy a day and looked like a wasted cancer victim on his last legs. He couldn’t eat. That’s when our discussions about medical marijuana got really serious. He knew it could solve his eating problem, strengthen his immune system and relieve the awful pain caused by his chemotherapy.
Lynne and I urged him to give it a try. He told us that he wanted to try cannabis, but feared it would show up in his regular mandatory government piss tests and cost him his job, and his pension. He was worried about his wife and two daughters in college.
He just couldn’t take a chance — but encouraged me to continue using cannabis oil to treat new skin cancers. That decision may have cost him his life and my freedom.
Over the next few months as he got thinner and weaker, I would show him the new skin cancers and the quick results I got from the oil, but we couldn’t convince him to do the one thing he knew could stop his decline. During that time my early parole release came through, but I continued to see Tony until he could get the U.S. Parole Commission to give me a final release from all my parole obligations.

Phoenix Tears

The last time I saw Tony was four months ago, just before I left for the Denver High Times Cannabis Cup and the Arizona Medical Marijuana conference run by Patients Out of Time.
Tony was leaving for a two week stay in a Jacksonville hospital. 
When I returned to South Florida after the two-week trip, as usual I phoned Tony to let him know I was back and OK. His cell phone wouldn’t take a message. The box was full!
Both Lynne and I knew something had to be wrong. A few days later Scott Kirsche, who I had never heard of, called to inform me that he was my new Parole Officer. A few days later he showed up at our door with a piss cup in hand. Lynne took one look at him and labeled him the fascist PO from hell. He made it clear to Lynne and I that he was testing me because he knew all about my thirty five year old case and was sure I had been smoking pot all along.
Furthermore I was to cancel all travel outside the southern district of Florida. The test, of course, was positive.
And so began our descent back into hell.  
Without travel, 80 percent of my income was gone in an instant. Lynne, who has had a heart attack, and suffers from COPD and severe neuropathy, can no longer afford several of her more expensive meds.
Rent and groceries are about all we can now afford. The Silver Tour covers some office and car expenses but I’ve never drawn a salary during my two years of work building the Silver Tour and producing our upcoming TV show, Should Grandma Smoke Pot?
It gets worse. I was ordered to travel the parole office every Friday for a month, for a piss test. Great news for a 70-year-old man with a case from 35 years ago. Great use of government resources!
At the third visit, I was forced into a meeting with Kirsche and his boss Frank Smith. My attorney, Mike Minardi who was with me, was barred from the meeting. Smith announced that Kirsche had been acting on his orders.
It seems they both are looking to earn government brownie points at my expense and the expense of my wife. At that meeting the two of them “ordered” me, among many other things, to stop using cannabis oil to treat my cancers.

The Silver Tour

I was granted permission to travel to Chicago, to address the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association, which was something I dearly wanted to do and had earned by three years of hard work. A week later, the permission was withdrawn with this chilling admonition:
“You are no longer permitted to travel to promote the legalization of cannabis, without the express permission of the US Parole Commission in Washington D.C.”
Oops! Do ya think someone might be stepping on the First Amendment to stop The Silver Tour and Grandma?
Although both Lynne and I had asked repeatedly, no one will tell us what was happening with Tony. We eventually learned, thanks to the persistence of my attorney Mike Minardi, that Tony died three weeks after my return.
Kirsche and Smith then reported me to the parole board for traveling extensively without permission. A serious violation! Despite repeated requests from my attorneys, Smith and Kirsche refused to confirm my travel arrangements with Tony while he still lived. They knew I would not be able to disprove those allegations with Tony gone. 
The good news! I used the forced confinement to finish our TV show, Should Grandma Smoke Pot I’ve just seen the final rough cut and believe me; Grandma will rock their world when she goes on TV stations and networks across America. I’m now raising the money to put her on the air.

Robert Platshorn
Platshorn had dix months cancer-free thanks to cannabis oil. In the past three months without cannabis oil, the cancers have returned in force

The bad news! I had six months cancer free thanks to cannabis oil. In the past three months without cannabis oil, the cancers have returned in force — face, arms, chest, and torso. 
Yesterday my dermatologist biopsied half a dozen squamis and basil cell carcinomas. I do not want to be sliced and diced anymore. Not when I knew for certain that there is a better and safer way to have them gone in just days.
That I can no longer afford the Medicare surgery co-pay it seems is irrelevant. Because I am denied the right to choose! 
If I catch another dirty urine test, Kirsche and Smith will dance with delight and send me back to prison. I’m sure it never entered their minds that Lynne can no longer survive on her own, and at my age, I might not live to make it out again. No matter!
Unless the Parole Commission or the courts decide they have had their pound of flesh, I will never spend again spend one day of what remains of my life, as a free man who can make his own choices.
But that shouldn’t concern Kirsche and Smith. After all they are “just doing their job.”
As an old Jew, I seem to remember that lament…