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Unparallel Paths

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
The statistics are staggering. In 2006, marijuana arrests reached a record 829,627, with one occurring every 38 seconds. Of these, 89% involved mere possession, not sale or 'manufacture'. [1] The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2004 that state and federal prisons held 41,507 individuals on marijuana-related offenses. [2]

So, when Irv Rosenfeld of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, lit a joint at a press conference this past Tuesday, November 20, the fact that he wasn't arrested should be newsworthy by itself. But the absence of handcuffs, Miranda warnings, plea agreements, and parole officers are what make Irv Rosenfeld a prominent public figure and what formed the basis for this groundbreaking press conference. That day, he celebrated his 25th anniversary as the second individual to participate in FDA's now defunct Compassionate IND program. He marked this 'Silver Anniversary' by pulling another pre-rolled joint out of a round, silver tin containing 300 such cigarettes that he continues to receive each month from the federal government.

To me, Irv would have been just another reform advocate had it not been for a video of him taken on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the U.S. vs. Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative hearing. In that video, he uttered four magic words, "Multiple Congenital Cartilogenous Exostosis." I played it over and over.

That snowy February evening, I had returned from the Alzheimer's care unit where my father lay dying. Until that video, my dad was only one of three people whom I had ever known to have 'Multiple Exostosis.' My son and I were the other two. In a matter of days, I would lose one of those people, only to find another. It had always been comforting to be close to someone who understood this condition so well.

Multiple Exostosis is a rather rare disorder, occurring in one of every 50,000 people, for an estimated 5,000 cases nationwide. [3] It is characterized by numerous lesions called tumors, which occur at the end of long bones and can result in a deformity of the bone, pain, spasticity, and even cancer.

Even though we share an uncommon condition, it's hard to suggest that Irv's life and my life followed parallel paths. Although we're almost the same age, Irv's condition occurred spontaneously, while mine manifested genetically. Irv learned he had it after a childhood baseball injury; I knew from birth. We both grew up in middle class homes, but his condition was treated in a prestigious New England medical center; I went to a community hospital. By age 17, we both had relearned walking as a result of multiple surgeries. Irv underwent four procedures, three on his left leg and one on his right wrist; I had tumors removed from both of my knees.

We both entered college in the early 1970s, and because it was, well, the 1970s, experimentation with marijuana was a 'required course.' From cannabis, Irv regained the ability to sit for more than 10 minutes. I was introduced to cannabis by my boyfriend and have enjoyed a 35-year love affair with both ever since.

During the early 1980s, Irv was accepted into the FDA's Compassionate IND program, which provided cannabis to patients who could complete a complex application process. I tracked this program through that decade as a market analyst for a pharmaceutical company. In the early 1990s, the program closed to all but current patients at about the same time a corporate merger eliminated my job.

Both Irv and I have gone on to successful careers, which defy the stereotypes that often accompany marijuana. As a Ft. Lauderdale stockbroker, Irv handles financial transactions each day in the millions of dollars. He is also a skilled disabled sailor and avid softball player. A graphic designer by trade, I earned my APR [4] certification in 2000 and, shortly thereafter, joined the staff of DrugSense/MAP and co-founded the Ohio Patient Network.

Fast-forward to 2007 finds us both well-known medical marijuana activists who share the same rare bone disorder. This commonality is where our unparallel paths end.

When medical marijuana laws slice and dice qualifiers, the condition becomes a pivotal point. Have the more common cancer, glaucoma, or Multiple Sclerosis, and you're in. Have a rare disorder like Multiple Congenital Cartilogenous Exostosis and you're out ... unless you have been grandfathered into the Compassionate IND program.

This program accords Irv the special privilege of lighting a joint at a press conference without fear of arrest or prosecution. He will not lose any driving privileges or professional licenses. There will be no handcuffs, Miranda warnings, plea agreements, and parole officers. Unlike me, if I were to do the same, he will never become a statistic.

And that's the poignant irony. The Compassionate IND program showed what was possible for those with both common and rare medical conditions. It was based on cannabis' therapeutic value, a physician's care, a prescription, and a distribution model. Under the Compassionate IND, participants - even 25 years later - cannot be arrested, prosecuted, or hassled in any way for their marijuana use.

Irv is a remarkable man. He could remain a successful Ft. Lauderdale stockbroker, who quietly receives his government-issued silver tin each month. Instead, he chooses to venture into a world where others risk arrest to testify before the cameras about the difference that cannabis has made in his life. He is a hero to many.

To me, however, there is a unique connection. I hearken back to that snowy February evening, remembering the special man that Irv replaced. Irv holds an esteemed position. He is now only one of three people whom I have ever known to have Multiple Congenital Cartilogenous Exostosis.

Happy 25th Anniversary, Irv. May our paths converge to end this war on medicinal cannabis.

[1] "War Against Marijuana Consumers" NORML War Against Marijuana Consumers - NORML

[2] "Senate Committee Weighs Costs of 'Mass Incarceration' as Marijuana Arrests Top 800,000," Marijuana Policy Project. Argus Leader Media - News

[3] "The Genetics of Hereditary Multiple Exostosis ( HME )," Sandra A. Darilek, MS and Jaqueline T. Hecht, PhD. Cops publicize grow-op sites

[4] Accredited in Public Relations ( APR ) certification by the Public Relations Society of America ( PRSA ). Accredited in Public Relations (APR)

Source: DrugSense Weekly (DSW)
Website: DrugSense: Drug Law Reform


New Member
The statistics are staggering. In 2006, marijuana arrests reached a record 829,627, with one occurring every 38 seconds. Of these, 89% involved mere possession, not sale or 'manufacture'. [1] The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2004 that state and federal prisons held 41,507 individuals on marijuana-related offenses. [2]

Just another reason why ending prohabition would be....... ya know.
Slightly complicated..... you'd end up with alot of people wanted compensation for years lost, jailed for bogus crimes!
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