Irvin Rosenfeld and the Compassionate IND --
Medical Marijuana Proof and Government Lies.|
Irv Rosenfeld's appearance at the Illinois medical marijuana
hearings has drawn quite a bit of attention and interest. People
have been asking me questions about him and the program, so I
thought I'd go into more detail.
But first... Steve at decrimwatch was also at the hearings
yesterday and provides a
fabulous perspective on the detention of Irv
"The government does give marijuana to patients.
I'm living proof," he told reporters during a press
conference. "I'm also living proof that it works well. I'm also
living proof that the government doesn't want to know how well it
works. If they want to do research, all they have to do is contact
He brought a tin can full of marijuana cigarettes
that he picks up at his pharmacy each month and showed them to a
room full of astonished state legislators during the hearing.
Shortly after his presentation, he found himself surrounded by
four burly state security officers.... [read the rest]
You see, Irv Rosenfeld is one of a small group of patients who
actually gets medical marijuana legally from the federal government
-- yep, that same federal government that sends storm troopers to
arrest California patients doing the same thing. He is part of the
Compassionate IND (Investigational New Drug) program and gets about
300 marijuana cigarettes in a metal tin prescribed to last 25 days.
He was a real hit at the Illinois House Committee hearing
yesterday. The press was particularly fascinated by the notion that
someone could be legally carrying around a tin of marijuana in the
State Capital. (seen here examining Irv's tin and supporting
And no surprise. It's not common knowledge. The federal
government doesn't want people to know. They don't deny the
existence of the program, but they sure avoid talking about it.
How did Irv become a federal medical marijuana patient?
It all started in 1976 in a
U.S. v. Randall
In 1976, a Washington, D.C. man afflicted by glaucoma employed
the little-used Common Law doctrine of necessity to defend himself
against criminal charges of marijuana cultivation. On November 24,
1976, federal Judge James Washington ruled Randall's use of
marijuana constituted a "medical necessity." In part, Judge
While blindness was shown by competent medical
testimony to be the otherwise inevitable result of defendant's
disease, no adverse effects from the smoking of marijuana have
been demonstrated.... Medical evidence suggests that the medical
prohibition is not well-founded.
Judge Washington dismissed criminal charges against Randall.
Concurrent with this judicial determination, federal agencies
responding to a May, 1976 petition filed by Randall, began
providing this patient with licit, FDA-approved access to
government supplies of medical marijuana. Randall was the first
American to receive marijuana for the treatment of a medical
Randall chose not to be silent about his victory, and started
organizing others, which led to:
Randall v. U.S.
In 1978, federal agencies, disquieted by Randall's outspoken
opposition to the medical prohibition, sought to silence him by
disrupting his legal access to marijuana.
In response, Randall, represented pro bono publico by the law
firm of Steptoe & Johnson, brought suit against FDA, DEA, the
National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Department of Justice and
the Department of Health, Education & Welfare.
Twenty-four hours after the suit was filed, federal agencies
requested an out-of-court settlement. The resulting settlement
provided Randall with prescriptive access to marijuana through a
federal pharmacy located near his home.
The settlement in Randall v. U.S. became the legal basis for
FDA's Compassionate IND program. Initially, this program was
limited to patients afflicted by marijuana-responsive disorders
and some orphan drugs. In the mid-1980's however, the
Compassionate IND concept was expanded to include HIV-positive
people seeking legal access to drugs which had not yet received
final FDA marketing approval.
Irv Rosenfeld met Randall, who convinced him to go after the same
legal arrangement, which he successfully did (around 1983). Irv has
a rare degenerative bone disease called multiple congenital
cartilaginous exostoses, a painful bone disease.
More patients joined the Compassionate IND program, but in the
1980s, it looked like it would grow significantly because of AIDS.
So The George H.W. Bush administration shut it down in 1991.
The Compassionate IND program was closed because
too many people were asking for access to medical marijuana
supplies. In order for marijuana to be classified as a prohibited
Schedule I drug it must not have "accepted medical use in
treatment" in the United States. The federal government knew that
hundreds of approved Compassionate INDs would quickly undermine
that criteria and marijuana would have to be rescheduled. Rather
than respond in an honest and open way, the federal government
closed the Compassionate IND program for marijuana.
The existing patients were grandfathered in because it would
require public and embarrassing court cases to deny them medicine at
this point. The AIDS patients in the program died (this was prior to
the AIDS cocktails that could prolong life). And finally, Randall
died, making Irv Rosenfeld now the oldest living legal federal
Seven are alive, two of which remain anonymous.
They continue to get their marijuana on a fairly regular basis.
They have to work with a pharmacy that's been approved by NIDA and
that has a secure safe. Then usually a five month supply is shipped
at once, and the patient is informed so they can pick it up. The
marijuana is grown on a farm at the University of Mississippi,
mostly from seeds of Mexican origin, rolled and packaged at the
Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina under the supervision
of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Irv's current supply was grown in 1997, and frozen until needed.
It's low grade marijuana with very low levels of THC, which explains
the large amount that must be smoked to serve the medical purposes.
The patients have no other contact with the federal government.
There's no ID card or official paperwork -- only some decades-old
letters and phone numbers of the pharmacy and an old DEA friend that
keep him out of trouble when he's detained (as he was yesterday).
Irv gets animated and almost angry when he talks about the
federal government's complete and utter lack interest in him over
the past 22 years that they've been supplying him with 10-12 joints
He notes that they've had a perfect opportunity to do a full
scale study on long-term controlled use of medical marijuana, and
they aren't interested. They don't even want to know. All the
talk about not having sufficient evidence, about not having
controlled scientific studies. Total crap.
"Go ahead, study me!" he exclaimed.
So some of the patients got involved in their own study (excerpts
from the study by Ethan Russo, MD are
available at CannabisMD). They received MRI scans of the brain,
pulmonary function tests, chest x-ray, neuropsychological tests,
hormone and immunological assays, electroencephalography (brain wave
recording), P300 testing, history, and neurological clinical
examination. The results? Other than their original condition for
which they were taking marijuana, there was nothing wrong with them.
No significant adverse affects from smoking 10-12 joints a day. Irv
even had 108% lung capacity. That's after smoking marijuana for over
30 years, 22 years for the federal government. That's over 80,000
federal marijuana cigarettes.
This is medical marijuana, the drug that the federal government
declares to be too dangerous to be used as medicine, and yet that
they supply to 7 patients every month.
Irv Rosenfeld is grateful that he gets his medicine, but finds it
extremely unfair that others cannot, so he feels that it's his
responsibility to help spread the word. He was riveting
on the Montel show, and was a hit yesterday at the
hearing. He single-handedly made numerous people in the room realize
how much of a liar the drug czar is (although unfortunately that was
not enough, as the Drug Czar carries significant political clout).
Irv's a real dynamo. He's a successful stockbroker working in a
fast-paced industry while smoking marijuana every day. He's an
outstanding public speaker, and the entire room is drawn to him.
He's a terrific asset to the medical marijuana movement -- not only
as a good speaker, but because in the end, when the drug warriors
claim that medical marijuana is dangerous, Irv stands in front of
them proudly and strongly and demands:
The truth about medical marijuana:
In the end, it's really quite simple. Here's what you say to
those who would deny medical marijuana.
- When they say there's no proof that it works, ask them to
explain that directly to a medical marijuana patient.
- When they say that marijuana is dangerous, ask them to explain
- When they say they're worried about the message that's sent to
children, ask them to explain the fact that in states that have
passed medical marijuana, recreational use by teens
- And finally, ask them: "Why do you want to throw sick
people in jail for following the advice of their