As New York State considers legalizing medical marijuana, opponents have called it a scam, asking, If it’s a medicine, why doesn’t the federal government treat it like one?
Well, I am here to tell you: It does. I know. The feds send me marijuana every month, and have for more than 30 years.
I spent my youth like millions of other American boys, until I turned 10. I was playing shortstop and made the throw to first to end the game and seal our one-run victory. I was going to celebrate by tossing my glove in the air. Only, I couldn’t: My entire arm was paralyzed.
After seeing an orthopedic specialist, I was told I had multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses, a rare, hereditary bone disease that limits growth and mobility. I also suffer from the elaborately named disease pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism, which means I have low calcium and high phosphate levels.
I was taking the most powerful prescription drugs on the market to relax my muscles and help me sleep, but the side effects were serious. I had many dangerous operations to remove bone tumors before they became malignant.
When I first enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College in the early 1970s, a roommate of mine lit up a joint. I kicked her out after she refused to put it out.
At the time my medicine cabinet was filled with heavy narcotics — Dilaudid, Quaaludes and Valium — but I was not going to have pot in my apartment.
But pot was unavoidable, and to make friends, I eventually tried it. The first nine times I didn’t even feel a high, and I rarely do to this day. Many patients don’t get high.
But, the pot did have a profound effect on me. The 10th time I smoked, it occurred to me I had been seated for half an hour. For most, that would qualify as a lazy afternoon; for me, it was remarkable. I hadn’t sat for 30 minutes straight in almost five years. The pot had eased my pain and muscle tension. I did some research and found that prior to 1937, almost every American pharmaceutical company manufactured cannabis-based drugs. I also found out the federal government had its own marijuana farm.
Starting in the late 1960s, the University of Mississippi operated a federally approved and legal marijuana farm and production facility. The National Institute on Drug Abuse contracts with the university’s lab to grow, harvest, process and ship marijuana to licensed facilities across the country for research purposes.
Armed with these two nuggets of information, I decided to experiment. For three weeks at a time, I’d smoke marijuana every day, and feel less pain and more alert. I cut back on Dilaudid and other meds. When I stopped smoking the pot, the pain would return and my prescription med intake would go back up. I knew I needed this medicine, even though the federal government said it had no medicinal value.
In 1972, I began challenging the federal government. I wrote my own scientific study and submitted it to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency stonewalled me until 1978, when I met Robert Randall, the first federal medical-marijuana patient, and we turned my study into a Compassionate Care Investigational New Drug Protocol, which was what he was on.
But the FDA told my doctor that it was still looking into other alternatives.
The feds started to call the program the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. In the late ’80s and early ’90s it expanded to include some HIV patients. Despite its success, the program was closed in 1992. The 13 of us then on the program were grandfathered in, so that we wouldn’t sue the government.
Today, there are only four of us still alive, who continue to receive our medical marijuana from the feds — living, breathing symbols of our government’s medical marijuana hypocrisy. By sending me my medicine every month, it acknowledges cannabis works as medicine — which is why it is inexplicable to me that pot continues to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.
The federal government says pot has no medical use, but it’s doing so with one hand behind its back and its fingers crossed.
State lawmakers need to know that marijuana is indeed a gateway drug — away from pain and suffering and toward a better life.
Rosenfeld is the author of “My Medicine: How I Convinced the U.S. Government to Provide My Marijuana and Helped Launch a National Movement.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/real-dope-medical-pot-article-1.1431275?pgno=1#ixzz2cXgFVSHO
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/real-dope-medical-pot-article-1.1431275#ixzz2cXfoRkFl