“I suffer from multiple
congenital cartilaginous exostosis,” Rosenfeld explained
(cleartest.com/testinfo/irvin_rosenfeld). The disease is “a
variant of the syndrome pseudo hypoparathyroidism.
These diseases cause bone tumors to grow on most of the long
bones of my body, and I can develop new ones at any time. This
causes severe muscle spasms and muscle tears, hemorrhaging, inflammation
of most joints, and tremendous pain.
Conventional medicine does not work. To treat this rare condition,
I have had to smoke 10-12 Cannabis cigarettes daily for thirty-one
years (the last 20 years exclusively supplied by Uncle Sam).
This experience gives me a unique perspective on a timely subject.”
Rosenfeld was in his early teens when he first contracted the
illness, which has caused more than 200 tumors to attack his
bones. He is enrolled, with others, in the Compassionate IND
program, set up by the government to allow certain terminal or
very sick patients to use experimental medication. President
Bush ended the program in 1992, but allowed it to continue to
serve the 13 patients already enrolled. This will continue until
the seven remaining patients die.
According to an article in the Herald-Review, Rosenfeld campaigned
to preserve the program. “To me, it’s lifesaving,” Rosenfeld
said. “When I pulled out my marijuana in the hearing, it
was to show people that the government is giving out marijuana
to patients. I’m living proof that it works, and I’m
also living proof that the government doesn’t want to know
it works well.”
By the end of 2005, according to the National Center for Chronic
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, more than 570,000 people
in the United States alone will have died from cancer. Many of
them will fight painful battles against the cancers that kill
them. That pain is why this issue of legalization is so very
important for Rosenfeld and other users of medicinal marijuana.
Hawai‘i is one of the 11 states where marijuana is legal
for medical use, with a doctor’s prescription. Even here,
however, medical marijuana patients report being arrested because
marijuana is illegal at the federal level, and the Supreme Court
has ruled that federal law supersedes state law in this case.
So we now have the strange situation in which taxpayers who have
voted at the state level to allow medicinal use of a drug must
not only pay federal taxes for drug enforcement against its social
use, but also must pay to grow medicinal marijuana for the selected
few who are enrolled in the federal Compassionate IND program.
It’s an outrage that the government arrests patients for
using marijuana for medicinal purposes, especially when it is
recommended by a doctor over a drug like morphine,” HPU
business major Ian Kaplan said. “It is even more outrageous
that the government grows marijuana for some patients and arrests
other patients for using it, while the taxpayers pay for both.”
Some government agencies are charged with making marijuana seem
like the enemy. The government organizes ad campaigns to keep
some citizens off marijuana while they grow it for others. TV
commercials tell us that marijuana will cause a babysitter to
lose the kids or a group of teens to drive irresponsibly. Where
are the commercials showing how dangerous other regulated medicine
can be when used in the wrong way? Many legal painkillers, including
morphine, can cause similar effects or even death if used in
medically incorrect ways.
People who can legally smoke marijuana under state law, even
Rosenfeld with his special federal waiver, must still be cautious
about when and where they take their medicine. Imagine the difficulty
boarding a plane with a medicinal stash of marijuana, or being
in a public place when pain strikes suddenly. Should people in
serious pain have to worry about whether they might be arrested
for simply taking their medicine?
If one can be arrested in a state where marijuana is legalized
for medicinal purposes, imagine the difficulty for those people
who live in states where medicinal marijuana is not legalized.
They are forced to buy their medicine off the streets where it
can be difficult to obtain and dangerous if they get caught.
Rosenfeld has himself admitted that before the federal government
started supplying it to him, he was forced to buy it off the
street to ease his pain.
People who need marijuana to control their pain are going to
buy it “whether it is prohibited or not,” said HPU
pre-med student, Sinjen Miller. “By allowing and regulating
it, we can keep it from going underground.”
Rosenfeld is a successful stockbroker; without marijuana, he
would never have been able to cope with the pain of his condition.
He is proof that marijuana is a valuable medicine that should
be available to those who need it to control pain. Should we
continue to outlaw a possible medical treatment just because
it is a substance that has been misused before? Many of the opium
derivatives have been similarly misused, but they can now be
obtained by prescriptions for legitimate medical reasons. If
we are willing to give patients radiation or strong chemo treatments
that have many negative, and possibly deadly, side effects, why
not allow an organic substance with few side effects, and none
deadly, to be a legally obtainable medicinal alternative for
Alcohol is legal, and it’s proven itself to be deadly if
misused. But its manufacturers and distributors put money, in
the form of political contributions, into the pockets of candidates
for office. Marijuana growers don’t pay taxes, and the
number of those who are, or would be, legally allowed to grow
it for medicinal purposes is too small to entice many legislators
at the federal level to support their efforts.
HPU advertising major Nicha Srinakarin clearly identified the
essential absurdity of the Bush administration’s position: “Would
the government rather watch its citizens live in pain?” she
asked. And then she speculated that it’s more a matter
of embarrassment: The government “just doesn’t want
to explain to everyone why marijuana has been illegal for so