Taxpayer-funded pot keeps Florida man's rare disease at bay

The Miami HeraldJanuary 11, 2011 

On a recent chilly morning, Fort Lauderdale stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld interrupted his client calls for a quick marijuana cigarette in the company parking lot. Then he went back to work.

The cigarette — perfectly legal for him — was one of about 120,000 the federal government has provided to him at taxpayer expense for the past 29 years. He’s one of only four people who remain in a now-closed “compassionate” drug program that at its peak provided 13 patients across the country with daily doses of pot to help manage medical conditions.

For Rosenfeld, the 10 to 12 marijuana cigarettes he smokes every day help relieve a rare condition called Multiple Congenital Cartilaginous Exostosis, which causes painful tumors to grow from the ends of his bones.

He says the drug doesn’t make him high or interfere with work, but it does ease his pain, make his joints more flexible and, for decades, has stopped the growth of tumors.

His new self-published book, My Medicine: How I Convinced the Federal Government to Provide my Marijuana and Helped Launch a National Movement, tells the story of his pot use, arguing that the federal government should be more aggressive in studying its medical uses. He praises the growing national push to legalize medical marijuana, as 15 states have already done. The federal government still classifies it as a controlled substance with no legitimate medical uses.

“The more places it’s legal, the more people will see it’s not dangerous and stop some of the hysteria,” says Rosenfeld, 58.

He says cannabis has helped him stay healthy. He plays softball and teaches a sailing class for the disabled in Coconut Grove.

“I’ve never missed a day of work due to illness,” he says. “I’m a very healthy disabled person.”

He tells his clients what he’s doing and has the blessing of his firm, Newbridge Securities Corp. of Fort Lauderdale.

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