Marijuana As Medicine
Irvin Rosenfeld (Stock Broker) gives expert video advice on: What medications were you taking prior to your experience with marijuana?; What were some of the side effects associated with other medications?; Why are you unable to use any of the legal pain medications available today? and more...
What medications were you taking prior to your experience with marijuana?
The medicines I was taking prior to marijuana... you name it, I took it. When you're in pain, you try everything. The main medicines were Dilaudid four milligrams, which is synthetic morphine. I was taking Methaquqalone, which was for sleeping and I took half a tablet for pain. I was taking Valium. I was taking Butazolidin and Alka. I was taking, I believe a couple Leoresal or something like that. Parafon Forte, a muscle relaxant. And so I was on very, very heavy narcotics.
What were some of the side effects associated with other medications?
The side effects were not as bad on me as they would have been on other patients. I needed the substances, therefore I did get the pain palliation from the pain killers but the problem was because dilaudid is such a great pain killer I took a lot of it, my body needed it. But when you take it you don't feel things. I was always scared to do something because I could hurt myself and not know it. With these tumors everywhere. I stopped playing sports, I didn't play sports anymore once I started taking dilaudid and I took it for 19 years and so as far as my job there were times lethargy would set in. Where i had my own furniture business and so you know I was sitting there and the furniture business can be sometimes be very boring waiting for customers to come in so you know, it was, I was not a good person to be with as far as I was not as much fun. Because I was either in pain or I wasn't or I was scared to move I was worried about tearing a muscle or vein and it was hard dealing with it. I mean marriage, it affects marriage because you are trying to deal with pain. And then you are trying to fight a battle to get a drug that you know you need and yet you're labeled a criminal for trying to get it. And I've always said I didn't ask to get this bone disease you know someone doesn't say look if I could just get cancer and I could go through chemotherapy I could use medical cannabis to take away the nausea. Doesn't happen that way ok nobody asks what they have, when you have a disease it sucks but you just want the best medicine possible. It's all you can hope for.
Why are you unable to use any of the legal pain medications available today?
The medicines which I took never relieved the pain and the muscle tension enough, to where I could lead a normal life. And so even today I would be not adverse to trying other medications if something new were on the market. They just don't work as well. It's just not the same. Cannabis works as all these other drugs put together. And all these other drugs put together are harmful for your liver, how they interact. Besides, the cost involved. For me thank God that's one of the least of my worries. But for other patients of course it's a big worry. A natural plant works in the body in a natural way, where chemicals work totally different.
What is a 'cannabis club'?
A cannabis club, cannabis clubs are mostly in California. There may be some underground in some other areas, states that have passed it, but mostly in California, and what this is is a pharmacy, per se, that has cannabis products -- be it edibles, be it stinctures, be it sprays, be it regular cannabis that you smoke. And a patient can go there with a doctor's recommendation that's been through the State of California, a card that that person can go to the club and buy cannabis. Now, the ones that are operating correctly are a godsend, because it takes people off the street, they don't have to deal with the criminal element anymore. It's safe, it's efficient, and it's good quality, you don't have to worry about it. There are other ones that give the good ones a bad name. Someone might come in there that shouldn't be. Those need to be closed down.
Should cannabis clubs be regulated by the government?
In my opinion, they should be. There should be statutes on how a cannabis club operates, and they should have to adhere to those regulations. A lot of them do now without being told to. But there are lots of them that don't, and so yes, I think they should be controlled.
What is 'Marinol'?
Marinol is synthetic THC. Back in the early '70s, the government came up with this drug and offered it to pharmaceutical companies. No one wanted it. Finally Unimed took it and in '81 or '82 they came out with Marinol, this drug that the government had actually discovered and manufactured. This was synthetic THC. This was supposed to be the answer where we don't need to smoke marijuana now for medical use because we have Marinol. Well Marinol, being that it is only one chemical, and it is the most psychoactive chemical, you can't titrate it like you can smoked cannabis. To where if I have muscle tension and I take a couple of hits of cannabis, and I put it out and I wait, and I go, "Well no, not yet." I take a couple more hits, and I put it out and I wait. And I go, "No, no, not yet." Take another couple hits and I wait and I go, "Yeah, yeah, that's it. I feel better now." You don't need any more. Your body's telling you, "That's what I needed." Where on a pill, you take the whole pill. So, all of a sudden, if it does have a reaction to you, you go from one to 20.
What is 'Sativex'?
There is a company called GW Pharmaceuticals and seven years ago, or eight years ago, they got the idea that if they could grow cannabis, and if they could have an exact strain, and they know exactly what is there, they could take that strain and make that liquification into a spray that you could spray under your tongue, which is one of the better entry points of the body, and get the medicine into your body that way, thereby taking away one of the main problems that is against us, which is that you don't smoke your medicine. So they've come up with something called Sativex. Now Sativex is now a natural plant, cannabis. They take and make a spray out of it and spray it under your tongue. At this moment it has been approved in Canada for neuropathic pain for multiple sclerosis. It hasn't been approved in England or any other country. However, they can import it. They grow their cannabis in England, they make the spray, they ship it to Canada. A doctor in England could say, "I want it for my patient," and re-import it from Canada back to England, but just for that patient. So there are a few patients getting it in England, but not many. And the same way in Spain. Spain is allowing a little bit of use, but they are doing more research.
If legal in the US, would Sativex be a viable option for you?
I don't know if Sativex was allowed if it would be a viable substitute for me. For me cannabis works in a myriad of situations. It's a muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory for pain and it's kept my tumors from growing, I believe. Therefore I don't know if Sativex would be as beneficial. Also the way you ingest it, which is under your tongue, what ends up happening is if maybe you're lucky 60% go through the membranes under your tongue and get into your bloodstream almost immediately. It the next best place other than IV-ing into your vein. However about 40% you end up swallowing and by swallowing it now it has to go through the liver and everything else, just like a pill does and so it loses a lot of its affect at that point. Smoking it is, to me, the immediate way of getting all of the medicine into my blood system immediately. Plus, I'm in perfect shape, my lungs are fine, so cannabis works.
Do the euphoric effects of marijuana diminish its value as a medicine?
It always astonishes me that the opposition uses euphoria as a negative of cannabis. Because people who are using it medically are not in good shape. Some of them are in very, very bad shape. I mean, they are hurting. They can't eat. They can't do this. They can't do that. So now, they smoke some cannabis, and it relieves whatever symptoms they needed to relieve, and now they might feel a little happy. Well you know something? To me, that doesn't sound detrimental. Someone who's suffering, now that they're a little happy. If you look at the euphoria as maybe a psychoactive the way it interferes with your life, well then yeah. That would be very negative. Just like with driving. I don't advocate that people smoke cannabis and drive. Myself, I can. I don't get any euphoric effect, and I'm sure there are other people in this country that are the same way. But the average individual is going to get a euphoric effect, and so I just assume they enjoy that euphoric effect by themselves and not potentially do anything that might harm someone else.
Have you experienced any side effects from smoking medical marijuana?
I've never had any side effects from smoking cannabis. I know the positive side effects. One, I play softball now. I've been playing now for the last nineteen, the last seventeen years, since I stopped taking Dilaudid. I teach disabled sailing. I teach disabled people how to sail boats. I'm able to do all this as a positive side effect because I have the right medicine. I'm able to get up and go to work, be a productive member of society, a stock broker at Newbridge Securities, handle millions of dollars on a daily basis. That's a nice side effect I get from the cannabis, because I'm able to do that. So as far as what it's meant for me, it's been a complete positive in my life. It's taken me off of other narcotics, other drugs. It's given me a quality of life which I never thought I'd have. So, those are all positive. When I originally got the protocol approved I had to sign a release from the federal government saying that if I got lung cancer from it, I couldn't sue the government. I laughed and said that I've got 200 bone tumors in my body that could go malignant. I should live so long as to die of lung cancer.
Does marijuana impair your ability to drive a car?
I'm probably one of the few people in the country that should have the right and does have the right to drive using medical cannabis. I get no euphoric effect. I ran a furniture business at the time, this was in the 70s. When we were putting the protocol together, Robert Randall, as brilliant as he and Alice O'Leary were, they go, “Well, we've got to deal with this, because you drive”. So they put in the protocol that I'm able to operate dangerous machinery as long as I'm not intoxicated, because I get no intoxication. So that's the way it was approved. So now, if and when I get pulled over, which does happen at times, the policemen first, I explain everything, that it's legal. I mean, I've had guns pulled on me by a cop. After they understand it's legal, they go, “Well, you can't drive with this”. And I pull out a copy of my protocol, which I always keep with me, and I go “Read this”. And they read it and I go, “Am I intoxicated to you?” And they go, “No.” That's why I drive. Driving to me is just like any other natural act. It doesn't affect me in any way. Therefore I'm able to drive. I know there are states now passing laws saying that if something happens and they do a blood test on you and you have metabolites in your system that you're impaired, and that's not true. That's why I've come public, showing me driving and smoking. Because it's not true that someone that smoked a joint a week before, two weeks before, whatever, is impaired. That's like saying, “Well, gosh. You had a glass of champagne two weeks ago, you're drunk.” I don't know how they're getting away with these laws. How they're putting them on the books, because it's ridiculous. If anybody pulls me in any state, I've got Steptoe and Johnson as a law firm, in DC, pro bono. I will sue them. It's my medicine, it's in my body provided by the federal government and federal law supersedes state law in this country. I'm a federal patient and I have a federal right to smoke and drive, and I do.