Florida's lone legal pot smoker would love to have company

Fort Lauderdale's Irvin Rosenfeld eager to help medical marijuana campaign

Now that the Florida Supreme Court has cleared the way for voters to decide the fate of medical marijuana in November, I called Florida's only legal pot smoker for his toke, uh, I mean take.

"We're in for a tough battle," said Irvin Rosenfeld, 60, a Fort Lauderdale stockbroker with a rare bone-tumor disease. Rosenfeld gets pot from the federal government as part of a little-known experimental treatment program. After 31 years and 130,000 joints, he calls himself "living proof" that medical marijuana works.

Even though polls show overwhelming support for the amendment, Rosenfeld said that negative ads from well-funded opposition groups and voter apathy could erode support below the 60 percent threshold needed for approval in November.

In other states where marijuana ballot initiatives passed, he said huge early support typically dwindled to the 55 percent range at the polls. That won't cut it in Florida, where a supermajority is needed to change the state constitution.


Photos: Celeb-spotting around South Florida

"A lot of people who say they're in favor of it just don't bother to vote," Rosenfeld said Friday.

Or they don't remember when Election Day is.

(OK, I know that's a cheap pot-smoker joke. And speaking of pot jokes, here's Rosenfeld's: "You know the difference between a drunk driver and a stoned driver? A drunk driver blows straight through the stop sign. The driver on pot waits for the stop sign to turn green.")

Rosenfeld and I are on the same page supporting the medical-marijuana initiative. And we both think it's a shame this had to go the citizen petition/constitutional amendment route because of an out-of-touch Legislature.

I figured high-powered Orlando attorney John Morgan and his group that spearheaded the successful petition drive, United for Care, would be all over Rosenfeld's story and use him as Exhibit A in the upcoming fight. Given his expertise and eloquence, Rosenfeld would seemingly make an excellent face for the campaign, perfect for TV ads.

Rosenfeld said he's scheduled to have a conference call with United for Care campaign director Ben Pollara on Tuesday.

If Rosenfeld could tape a 60-second ad, what would his message be? He said the script could go something like this:

"When it comes to the benefits of medical cannabis, nobody knows them better than myself. Hi, I'm Florida resident Irvin Rosenfeld. When I was 10, I was diagnosed with a painful, chronic bone-tumor disease — multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis. Doctors didn't know if I'd survive my teen years.

Since 1982, the federal government has given me marijuana through its Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. My medicine doesn't get me high, it brings me relief. I've smoked cannabis every day for the last 31 years, and I'm in great shape. I'm able to hold a job and be a productive member of society.

I'm 60 now, and I say it's time other ailing Floridians get the same chance as me. It shouldn't be a crime for people with cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis to willingly use medical marijuana when their doctors decide it's right. This Election Day, just say yes on Amendment 2. Let's give sick Floridians a better choice."

mmayo@tribune.com, 954-356-4508

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