Mr. President, Will Compassion Inform Your Next Move On Medical Marijuana?


Irvin Rosenfeld/Facebook

Irvin Rosenfeld has smoked more than 125,000 U.S. government marijuana cigarettes over the past 30 years. 

Editor’s note: Did you know that for the past three decades, the U.S. federal government has been providing a handful of patients with medical marijuana? The program grew out of a 1976 court settlement that created the country’s first legal cannabis smoker, Robert C. Randall, and the creation of the Compassionate Use Investigative New Drug Program.

By Irvin Rosenfeld
Federal Medical Marijuana Patient
President Obama, you now have to make a decision with regard to how the federal government will answer the groundswell of support nationwide not only for medical use of cannabis, but also for outright legalization.
Why am I writing? Of the final four federal medical marijuana (cannabis) patients in the United States, I am the longest surviving member, and I believe I have a unique voice on this issue. On November 20, I will be starting my thirty-first year of receiving 10 to 12 cannabis cigarettes per day for severe bone tumor disorders.
It serves as a muscle relaxant, an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and has kept my tumors from growing for more than 38 years. I am in great shape for someone with my conditions. That’s because I have the right medicine.

Hiedi Handford/Facebook
Federal medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld — shown here with a government tin of 300 cannabis cigarettes — wrote this article for Toke of the Town

In 1982, I became the second patient in the United States to qualify under what was called the “Compassionate Care Investigative New Drug Protocol.” Thirteen of us were receiving Cannabis approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administrations, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse when, in 1992, George H. W. Bush arbitrarily directed Health and Human Services to close down the program to any new patients. The 13 of us were “grandfathered” in.
This timing was particularly unfortunate since Robert Randall, the first patient in the IND program, had just put together a simple AIDS protocol application that would have brought both medicinal cannabis and much-needed relief to those suffering with this terrible disease. Sadly, President Bush, running for re-election against Clinton, and apparently afraid of looking “soft on drugs,” was unwilling to substantiate the use of medical cannabis for hundreds — if not thousands — of additional patients.
President Obama, are you willing to address this injustice?
While I believe every patient should have the right to use medical cannabis (and according to the Gallup poll, at least 75 percent of the U.S. population agrees with me), I have yet to see your administration endorsing such an action.
Even though my physicians have been sending my medical reports to the federal government every six months for the last 30 years, proponents of prohibition still say “we have not done enough research.” Our opponents talk about how bad Cannabis is, while ignoring the mounting scientific evidence as to its wide-ranging effectiveness.
I suggest, President Obama, that you show true “Compassionate Care” and have Health and Human Services reopen the “IND Program.” Let’s pick 50 research centers nationwide and have them do rigorous research comparing patients that are using cannabis to those that aren’t.
If these centers find that the patients that are not using are better off than the ones on cannabis, then you can responsibly close the program down. However, if the patients using cannabis are doing better than their peers, then the obvious response would be to once again make medical cannabis available to patients under a reinstated IND program.
Now, who am I to make such a bold suggestion? I have received and smoked more than 125,000 medical cannabis cigarettes from Uncle Sam with no ill effects. I have not taken any narcotics since 1992.
I am also a board member of Patients Out of Time, a non-profit 501c3. This is the only organization in the U.S. sanctioned by the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association to teach doctors and nurses about medical cannabis, and where they will receive continuing education credits for doing so. Patients Out of Time was also responsible for the Veteran’s Administration move to accept the use medical cannabis for veterans who are protected under state laws.
I am also author of My Medicine, How I Convinced the U.S. Government To Provide My Marijuana and Helped Launch a National Movement. It gives my life story, and demonstrates how marijuana made that life possible. It is also a history of our movement as seen through this man’s eyes. There is a one minute trailer available for viewing at, should you feel so inclined.
Mister President, I am living proof on how well Medical Cannabis works. I believe this suggestion is a good one and can truly change society for the better.
Please prove to us that you do, indeed, stand for change.