Getting Marijuana From The Government
Irvin Rosenfeld (Stock Broker) gives expert video advice on: Why do you get marijuana from the federal government?; How do you get your marijuana from the government?; What is 'medical marijuana'? and more...
Why do you get marijuana from the federal government?
I'm a federally supplied patient because I was fortunate enough to learn about medical cannabis (marijuana). I was fortunate enough to have an education that I could write up my own scientific project to start with, as myself as the patient and my doctor as the researcher. I was connected enough with medicine, with my family being in medicine, that I learned what I needed to do and when I discovered medical cannabis was better than the other morphine, dilotid, Quaalude, valium whatever I was taking, that this served all it's purposes and worked better and without any euphoria at all, I had to have it. I wasn't a criminal, and so I learned what to do or to try to do it and it took me ten years. It was a hard battle but in the end I won. So in the end, it was worth it because twenty five years later, they're still supplying me my medicine on a daily basis. I smoke between ten and twelve cannabis cigarettes per day which equates out to about nine ounces of cannabis every twenty five days.
What is 'medical marijuana'?
Medical cannabis is a drug that I use and have been using. And Medical Marijuana, Marijuana, is just a street drug but cannabis is the correct term for the medicine. And that is what I use and that is what I advocate for.
What is the 'Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program'?
The Federal Compassionate IND Program, which I'm under, was established in 1978, and was shut down in 1992 by George Bush Sr. And what it is, is the doctors... The government wasn't agreeing that marijuana, or cannabis, was a medical benefit. What they were saying is that doctors had convinced the government that there was no medicine for this patient, and that a qualified physician believed that cannabis would work, and so therefore out of the compassion of the federal government, they granted a Compassionate Care protocol. And in '92, we'd gotten up to thirteen patients. Another twenty-eight patients had been approved for the program. And we found that it worked for AIDS patients. We sent a protocol, basically a fill-in-the-blanks protocol, to AIDS organizations, and they bombarded the Bush administration with thousands of protocols. George Bush Sr., running for reelection against Clinton, didn't want to look soft on drugs, so he somehow arbitrarily shut the program down, grandfathering the thirteen of us in.
What are federally supplied medical marijuana patients like?
A federal cannabis patient is an individual in this country that is a grandmother, 73 years old, that uses medical cannabis for her eyes, for glaucoma. A federal cannabis patient is a person who is 50 years old with MS and luckily would still be able to see and be able to move, but she barely leaves her house. But she's a taxpayer also. A federal cannabis patient is a person who is a hard worker in Iowa, that all his life he's been tough, and he's got a disease that he's got like brittle bones that break very easily and organs, the muscles clamp down organs he's had half of this removed, half of his stomach, half of this. That's a federal cannabis patient. A federal cannabis patient is a woman, 65 years old, who has glaucoma. She sings, she's an advocate. She used to be a bank teller, but the glaucoma hit her and she couldn't work anymore. A federal cannabis patient is me: a person that works very hard every day. Get's up in the morning, the ankle's killing me. But I get up, I go to work, I do my job. It gets my thoughts off of that. I pay a lot of taxes--I'm a very successful stock broker,ok, so I pay a lot in taxes, which I'm glad to do. And I do all that because I have the right medicine. If I didn't have medical cannabis, I wouldn't be working. I'd probably be homebound, I'd probably would be on disability and a drain on the society versus a productive member. A cannabis patient is a person, myself, who teaches other people disabled how to sail boats in Miami through an organization called "Shake a Leg". So you see, I'm the average person just like everybody else. All I'm trying to do is feel as well as possible, and medical cannabis is that medicine for me.
How many federally supplied medical marijuana patients are there?
When the program was shut down in 1992 there were 13 patients receiving medical cannabis. Another 28 patients had been approved by all three government agencies, NIDA, National Institute of Drug Abuse, FDA and DEA. Now because those patients never received medicine when Bush Sr. arbitrarily shut the program down because he didn't want to give it to thousands of AIDS patients because we had gotten a fill in the blank protocol. At that point there were 13 of us grandfathered in and today there are only 5 of us left, the rest have died.
How did you discover marijuana?
I was an advocate against illegal drugs in high school. Why would a healthy person take all illegal drugs when here I had to take all these narcotics and drugs and have surgeries. So I would go to schools and talk to kids my own age in assemblies and just talk to them saying be thankful you're healthy, don't do illegal drugs and I'd hold up my baggie with the all the prescription bottles in there. So I went off to college, a thousand miles away in Miami, from Virginia and in the apartment complex I was in was ninety percent college students. Well they'd be outside, we'd be swimming after class or whatever and they'd go, "Lets go drink some wine and smoke some pot." "I'm not going to do that, I'm not going to break the law?" and so I didn't. About thirty days later I realized I wasn't making any friends so I gave in to peer pressure and I tried it and it did nothing. People around me were acting euphoric, it did nothing to me, it was pure garbage. So that was my introduction of it and at that point I figured it's not harming me in any way so I might as well do it and that's what I did.
What symptoms do you have that are relieved with medical marijuana?
I have bone tumours all throughout my body. If you can see, they grow outwardly from the long bone, outwardly into the muscles and the veins, stretching the muscles and the veins making it very painful. More importantly, any kind of movement could tear a muscle or tear a vein from that tumour. And if you tear a vein, a clot could break off and go to your heart, your brain, your lungs and it could kill you. So the idea is to keep everything relaxed. Plus there is a sac of fluid over each tumour called a bursar. That bursar is trying to prevent the muscles and the veins from tearing. The more that's inflamed, the higher rate of malignancy it has. So the idea is to keep it less inflamed. Cannabis serves as an anti-inflammatory. Then my right ankle, the tibia and fibula is fused by a big tumour—it's twenty-four hour pain, there is nothing they can do with it. So imagine that pain being a brick. Take that brick, throw it against cement, it's going to break up into ten different pieces. Each piece is smaller, the size of a tenth, but it's still an original piece of that brick, but it's not as intense, therefore it doesn't hurt as much. So the pain is spread out - cannabis does that. Now, my two disorders say that I should develop tumours at any time and my existing ones can grow at any time. That's basically a walking death sentence. Well, I haven't had a tumour grow, or an existing or new one develop, in thirty-two years. Why? Because the disease says I should. I think it's the cannabis. So for me it serves all these purposes and I get no euphoric effect from it; I never have. I have two elements. The first was diagnosed at age ten, which is multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses, which means bone tumours on the ends of long bones. Whatever tumours you have at puberty will grow; you'll develop no new ones. Once you stop growing, once your growth centres are closed, if you've survived, then there's a good chance you can live a normal life—a fairly normal life. This happened, at age nineteen I started developing new tumours and the existing ones started growing. It wasn't until three years later that we finally found a diagnosis called a variant of a syndrome called pseudo-pseudo-hypo parathyroidism, prevalent in people with multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses can grow tumours at any time—new tumours—and existing ones can grow at any time. So at that point, when I was told that diagnosis, the doctor said I just read you a death sentence; a potential death sentence. And I said, Doctor that's the second time in my life someone's done that. I said at least now I know what I have. So the tumours haven't grown. They stopped growing when I was twenty-three and that's really when I started using cannabis. I could get a lot then and so I really used a lot and the tumours haven't grown since. So I truly believe that cannabis serves as a tumour retardant even for bone.
Do you have to pay for your medical marijuana?
In reality, I don't pay for the cannabis because the government cannot sell cannabis. However, I have to pay for FedEx's that go from the doctor to the government. I have to pay for the licensing that the pharmacy has to have to hold schedule one narcotics. I have to pay for my doctor's appointments. So in reality, I would say right now it comes down to costing me about 50 to 60 dollars per month. Right now is what it actually costs me. But I am very thankful for that because it would cost me thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars if I had to go on the black market like everybody else does in this country except for the people that can grow it in certain states.
How potent is the marijuana you get from the government?
The government, when they grow the cannabis, they measure by THC, which is the most psychoactive ingredient. There are over, I think, about 60 different cannabinoids, major chemicals, and then about another 450 different chemicals in cannabis, making up over 500. THC is just one ingredient. Is the psychoactive ingredient what's helping me the most? That's not for me to say. I believe it's not. So therefore, the THC level of this, which is only about 3.20, in text of other cannoboids and cannabis, it can go as high as 7, 8, 9. Some have been rated higher than that, but I'm somewhat skeptical about those. However, it works for me. And that's what counts.
How hard was it to get into the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program?
It was very difficult getting into the federal program. It took me 10 years of trying to educate the government, the first five as a scientific project, which I put together making myself as the patient and my doctor as the researcher. FDA stonewalled me, said I hadn't been to this research center, I hadn't done this, I hadn't done that. So they had no intentions of giving it to me. Then when I met Robert Randall in 1977, he suggested instead of trying to do it as a scientific project, turn it around into a compassionate care protocol, which is what we did. But again, the government was stonewalling and they weren't going to do anything. I brought in my Congressman, didn't matter. Well, my cousin went to law school at the University of Virginia, and he brought it to the school as a project. And they agreed and they took me on as a project. So for three years while he was in law school, they were trying to work with FDA to try to get this thing approved. FDA had no intentions of approving it. So finally the University of Virginia Law School got upset and said, "That's it. We're going to court, we're suing. "FDA said, "Wait a second. We're going to grant Irvin hearings. He can come up to Rockville, Maryland and have 15 minutes to plead his case." So that was the next step. But UVA figured well, they're going to turn me down, so they started putting the lawsuit together. I went there, I had my time there. Robert Randall and Alice O'Leary had arranged by advertising to have the general public and/or other staff people and other doctors and nurses and everything at FDA come. So there were about 200 to 300 people in the audience at that time. I spoke for about 12 minutes, said everything I needed to say, and then I said I was opening for questions. A guy raised his hand, stood up in a white coat, and said, "I really don't have a question, I have a statement." And I said, "Fine, what's that statement?" Well, one of the things I'd said when I was speaking was that my doctor and I researched and that when I took Dilaudid -- synthetic morphine -- and I had marijuana or cannabis to go along with it, that the cannabis would enhance the Dilaudid to where I took less. And when I didn't have cannabis, I took more Dilaudid. And we had studied this for 10 years. So this guy stands up and said, "I'm a visiting oncologist from Venezuela. I'm here studying pain treatments for cancer patients. The best pain treatment you have in this country is Dilaudid, which is what we have in Venezuela. And if you and your doctor have studied for 10 years that using cannabis along with the Dilaudid makes the Dilaudid work better and you take less, this needs to be researched further," and sat down. The committee chairman and everybody, you could see their face and their whole demeanour, like "Oh, no." So I said, "Are there any other statements or questions?" No one had any other statement. I turned to the chairman and said, "Mr. Chairman, that concludes my presentation. "The guy is sitting in the middle of like nine doctors on each side of him, he turns like this and everybody kind of doesn't want to look at him. He turns like this, everybody turns this way. Nobody wanted to make eye contact with him. He turned to me and said, "Mr. Rosenthal, I think I can speak for the entire committee that you were very eloquent and very convincing, and that your protocol will be approved."
Why was the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program shut down in 1992?
To put together the compassionate care protocols was very time-intensive. It could take months, if not years. And so it was very difficult to put this together for a patient. So we might get one patient here, one patient there, with a certain sore. Well, here was AIDS patients, so Robert Randall put together a protocol for AIDS patients that was basically fill-in-the-blank. He then sent these blank protocols to all the major AIDS organizations. They then filled them in with each pre-AIDS patient and bombarded the federal government with these protocols in 1992. George Bush was running for re-election against Clinton, and he didn't want to look soft on drugs. And giving out thousands of patients more marijuana, he was worried what would happen with that. So somehow he arbitrarily was able to shut the program down through the Health & Human Services. I don't know how that happened, because I wasn't in DC. Bob Randall was. I was in Florida and he was in DC, so I was letting him take care of everything. Well, because he was the knowledgeable person, not myself. But the program got shut down. And today -- at the time there were 28 more patients that had been approved by FDA, DEA, and NIDA, the three government agencies, and they never received their cannabis. And so they never did once the program was shut down. The 13 of us that were getting it were grandfathered in so we didn't sue the government. Now today, there are five of us, because the others died, and so the federal government is hoping that we die off too and that will end the program.
Do you think the US government will bring back the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program?
I wish the Federal Government would bring back the Compassionate Program. What I've suggested, and it's fallen on deaf ears, is that if you're my enemy, and you're against me, and you're right that marijuana / cannabis is harmful to you, and it's detrimental, well then I'm willing to take a chance and prove it. Why don't we do this? Why don't we take fifty of our top research centres in the country - pick one from each state - let them pick fifty patients-- Crohns patients, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, whatever, ok? All the different diseases, take fifty patients, and let's use it for two years. Now, if the person that is against me is right, then we are only going to harm 2500 patients, and we are going to know how harmful it is. Because we are going to have 2500 patients that are going to be worse off, because they have used cannabis, than their peers with the same diseases. However, if I'm right and these people A) have not been harmed; and B) are better than their peers that aren't using it, then I would hope that a knowledgeable and educated person would finally say wait a minute, maybe you are right maybe we need to readdress the situation. But that hasn't happened. That's a logical step. That's something logically that could be done. But the government doesn't want to know logic. They don't want to know it works. They are scared because of the lobby organizations and the money behind all this that keeps it illegal.