"My Medicine," by Federally Legal Patient Irvin Rosenfeld [BOOK REVIEW]

My Medicine: How I Convinced the US Government to Provide My Marijuana and Helped Launch a National Movement, by Irvin Rosenfeld (2010, Open Archive Press, 286 pp., $19.95 PB)

review by Phillip S. Smith, Writer/Editor, http://stopthedrugwar.org/user/psmith

Irv Rosenfeld is a unique fellow. In fact, you could say that he's one in a million, but that would be understating it. It's more like one in 78 million. Of the 312 million people that called the USA home during last year's census, only four have the permission of the federal government to smoke pot, and Irv Rosenfeld is senior among them.

Rosenfeld is one of the four surviving members of a federal program killed by President Bush the Elder when it threatened to become too popular, the Compassionate Investigative New Drug (IND) program. Under the program, a group of seven medical patients were given permission to use marijuana for therapeutic purposes -- and even supplied with fed weed grown at the University of Mississippi and delivered as pre-rolled joints in nifty tin canisters. Irv and the others were grandfathered in when the program was terminated. When they die, the program dies.

My Medicine is his story. In 1963, at age 10, Rosenfeld was diagnosed with a rare condition called Multiple Congenital Cartilaginous Exotosis, a disabling and potentially life-threatening disease in which hundreds of tumors grew on his bones. Although in junior high school he gave lectures about "good" drugs and "bad" ones to fellow students, in college he joined everyone else around him and lit up.

Rosenfeld admits he toked up mainly because everybody else was doing it, but in short order, he found that his symptoms were abating. "For the next three weeks, I used cannabis every day and my health improved dramatically," he writes. "I was able to sit and walk with less muscle tension and pain. I was able to cut back on the amount of prescription medication I was taking, and generally felt better."

From there, with determination and the help of sympathetic physicians, Rosenfeld began a trajectory that resulted in his successful application to join the IND and his subsequent activism around medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. The bulk of My Medicine is the story of his struggle and his activism.

And while it is one man's story, Rosenfeld's story is inextricably intertwined with the history of the medical marijuana movement in the US and beyond. In diary-like fashion, Rosenfeld relates any number of historic struggles and events, as well as more mundane things, such as attendance at conferences or speeches given. Through My Medicine the reader gets a real sense of the whirlwind that has been the politics of medical marijuana for the past couple of decades.

And what a whirlwind it's been! From no medical marijuana states in 1996 to 14 now (and the District of Columbia), Irv has been right in the middle of it all along. For those who are new to the movement, My Medicine is a riveting revelation, a compendium of "You were there" moments that helped shape the political and medical landscape. For movement veterans, it's a pleasant trip down memory lane, especially since Irv seems to have met or hung out with just about everybody who was or is somebody in the world of therapeutic cannabis.

But My Medicine is also one man's story. Irvin Rosenfeld isn't just a medical marijuana patient. He's a husband, sailor, stock broker, and those parts of his life are intermingled throughout. They help remind that Rosenfeld is more than just that guy with the federal weed or even that veteran activist -- he's got a life, too.

My Medicine is breezily but deftly written, full of interesting (and sometimes maddening) anecdotes, and one man's window on a social movement that is changing our country. It shows what determination and perseverance can accomplish, and that makes it a worthy read for grizzled veteran or wide-eyed neophyte alike.

(You can order My Medicine with a donation of $35 or more to StoptheDrugWar.org.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Medical marijuana

Its high time the federal government did the right thing and moved marijuana to schedule II so that at least it could be researched further. It has to be the most useful medicinal herb on the planet. At the same time that should allow doctors in those states that have medical marijuana laws to legally prescribe to their patients. The DEA,s own administrative law judge Francis Young way back in 1988 after extensive hearings found marijuana to be one of the safest therapeutic substance known to man, with no deaths recorded from its use. He also recommended that it be moved to schedule II The people have spoken on this issue with the majority favoring allowing the use of medical marijuana. The voice of the People is the voice of God. 


there is no time to reschedule the herb to do further research; patients have to have the medicine today ! and there is no reason to do further research; the research results are in and Medical Mairjuana is a Medicine not a drug; Medical MJ treats OVER 40 known diseases; including; Glaucoma; anorexia; lowers BP; stimulates appetite; helps digestion;

mmj is a natural antidepressant; a mood enhancer; helps one focus; increases thoughts of happiness and joy; etc.

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