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by Angelee Theurer, Jour 3000

 

“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 pain management?

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 long now.”

 

 

 

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