|7 Americans Get To Smoke Pot in Federal Program|
Posted by CN Staff on June 08, 2005 at 10:39:02 PT|
By Wendy Koch
USA -- Irvin Rosenfeld, a 52-year-old stockbroker, says he reeks of the marijuana he has smoked for many years to treat rare bone tumors. He gets his pot for free from an unlikely source: the U.S. government.
Every month, Rosenfeld and six other Americans receive about 300 cigarettes each to alleviate health problems under an old but little-known U.S. program funded by taxpayers.
These seven have the federal government's written permission to use, even though the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the U.S. government may prosecute sick people who use marijuana. advertisement
"I handle millions of dollars, and my clients know I smoke 10 to 12 joints a day, without euphoric effect," says Rosenfeld, who works for Newbridge Securities in Fort Lauderdale.
In 1982, Rosenfeld became the second person eligible for the "compassionate use" program, which began four years earlier as a result of a lawsuit.
Glaucoma sufferer Robert Randall had sued the U.S. government after he was arrested for using marijuana. A judge ruled Randall needed it for medical reasons. The government agreed to set up the program, run by the Food and Drug Administration. The marijuana is grown on a farm at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
The first President Bush discontinued the program in 1992 after Randall tried to help scores of AIDS patients become eligible, but he grandfathered in the 13 patients who were already enrolled. Several, including Randall, have since died.
"The government has done everything to hide the program since 1992," says Keith Stroup, founder and legal counsel of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "For political reasons, the government doesn't want to find out marijuana is helpful for medical purposes." Tom Riley, spokesman of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, says the federal government is spending millions of dollars on research into marijuana's medicinal uses. "This program is just part of that effort."
Riley says the government would be receptive to a non-addictive marijuana derivative with medical benefits, but it would be subject to FDA approval. He says proponents of medical marijuana want to circumvent that process.
Rosenfeld urges the current Bush administration to reopen the program as a way to study marijuana's medical value. He says he and three other participants underwent complete evaluations a few years ago that showed no adverse health effects from their pot use.
Rosenfeld considers it a miracle his health is good. Born with a disease in which tumors press into the muscles at the end of his long bones, he suffered paralysis and extreme pain. He's had 30 tumors removed in six operations. He still has 200 tumors, some too small to remove, but in the 30 years he has been smoking marijuana, he says, he has not had a new tumor.
He says he doesn't take the marijuana for granted. "I'm always worried (about the shipments ending) because I don't trust the government, and the medicine means everything to me."
Source: AZCentral.com (AZ)
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|Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 09, 2005 at 12:32:58 PT|
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|Comment #2 posted by OnyxLeaf on June 09, 2005 at 12:17:30 PT|
|Well, it's never been said if the Pot these 7 people receive from the Government interferes with the Interstate Commerce Clause.|
Does anyone know the implications of that measure that was accepted on the Federal level? Does Federal standard trump the State standard in this case?
I, at least, expect some scholar to lay this out for us in everyday people words.
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|Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 08, 2005 at 14:20:59 PT|
|Legal Pot's No Pipe Dream |
June 08, 2005
The Supreme Court handed a major defeat to state medical marijuana laws this week, but pro-pot advocates said a little-noticed lawsuit wending its way through the courts might yet make legal pot a reality.
The suit hinges on a Food and Drug Administration regulation that says the agency can't approve marijuana -- or any other substance -- as a medicine unless research shows it's safe. But the government, which controls the only legal crop in the country, won't give scientists any marijuana to test, according to researchers who want to perform safety studies.
The impasse led to a lawsuit in July 2004 pitting the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, against the Drug Enforcement Agency as well as the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, for obstructing medical marijuana research.
"The energy in the legal arena is now going to shift to our effort to break the monopoly on supply," said Rick Doblin, founder and president of MAPS. "Now that (law enforcement) can go after high-profile targets, the only safety for patients is going to be to have it available through the FDA."
NIDA refused to comment on the lawsuit because the agency addresses abuse of marijuana rather than its medical uses, a spokeswoman said. But since the agency is the gatekeeper to the only legal source of the drug from a small farm at the University of Mississippi, researchers who want to study the drug's medicinal qualities have no choice but to query NIDA.
Doblin said the government pot is not only scarce but also low-quality. Patients have to smoke up to four times more than they would if they bought it on the street or in a buyers' club, and it's full of sticks and seeds.
After several years of rejections and revised protocols, Dr. Donald Abrams, now chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, managed to gain NIDA's permission in 1997 to perform a study testing marijuana in AIDS patients. It found that the patients' viral load did not increase while smoking the drug.
Abrams recently completed a second study on 16 AIDS patients with painful nerve damage in their hands and feet. Preliminary results suggest that marijuana eased their pain, he said.
"I'm trying to generate some data so we can have some real evidence in this discussion," said Abrams, who is awaiting approval for one more study that if approved will examine the interaction between cannabis and opioids in cancer patients with persistent pain.
Doblin thinks the government is purposely setting up roadblocks to make it impossible to get enough data for FDA approval. Abrams' studies have involved 62 and 16 patients respectively -- far too few to garner FDA approval -- and Doblin said government agencies know that Abrams doesn't have the resources to perform a larger trial.
MAPS is also suing NIDA for ignoring its 2003 application to buy 10 grams of marijuana -- a small amount worth no more than $100 -- for a study that would examine the chemical makeup of vaporized marijuana, which it believes could be an alternative delivery method. The test would not involve human subjects.
"Supposedly that's what everyone wants -- that this issue should be solved through science rather than through politics and that's what we're saying as well," Doblin said. "The problem is, when we try to do the science we find out the government is not really that interested in solving the issue through science."
The first hearing regarding the DEA suit is scheduled for late August.
Story Location: http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,67780,00.html
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