Decatur, IL Herald & Review, Feb. 18, 2005
By Shelby Sebens, H&R Springfield Bureau Writer
SPRINGFIELD - The longest surviving federally legal medical marijuana patient was briefly detained for possessing cannabis after a state House committee shot down a proposal to make the drug legal.
"The two cops took it upon themselves to detain this person," said state state Rep. Larry McKeon, D-Chicago, sponsor of House Bill 407. "It is a clear example why we need this legislation."
Proponents of McKeon's proposal say medical cannabis eases pain caused from diseases such as AIDS, multiple scleroses and cancer.
McKeon was upset with the Secretary of State police Thursday when they detained a proponent of his initiative.
"I think part of the issue is training, education and common sense," McKeon said. "I've been a sergeant, I've been a lieutenant, I've been a captain. Supervision, management, training, that's your job. That's Secretary (Jesse) White's job. That's the job of the chief of police and Capitol security, and it's the job of the commander in charge of the Illinois State Police that augment that security. That's what I will tell Secretary White."
However, Brad Demuzio, director of Secretary of State police, said, "Secretary of State police was not familiar with the federal exemption."
Demuzio said Irvin Rosenfeld, a stockbroker from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and medical marijuana patient, agreed to head downstairs of the Stratton Building for questioning. Once Rosenfeld explained his exemption, the two officers called Washington, D.C., for confirmation.
"We found out that he is one of seven from 1982 that has a federal exemption for medical marijuana," Demuzio said.
Rosenfeld smokes 10 to 12 marijuana cigarettes a day and goes through 13 ounces a month. His medical condition causes tumors to grow on the ends of his bones at random. Rosenfeld said his marijuana prescription is the only thing that eases his pain.
"To me, it's lifesaving," Rosenfeld said. "When I pulled out my marijuana in the hearing, it was to show people that the government is giving out marijuana to patients. I'm living proof that it works, and I'm also living proof that the government doesn't want to know it works well."
Judy Kreamer, president of Educating Voices, feels marijuana is too uncontrolled and unsafe to be a legal prescription.
"Our primary focus is the young people," Kreamer said. "The message that you're sending to children is that this is a safe drug and you can use it."
Although McKeon's measure was voted down 7-4 in committee, he is determined to push ahead. Supporters of the bill and the representative already have plans to meet with officers and conductors of medical marijuana programs in other states.
McKeon said he would also consider amending some language of the bill and bringing it back to the House.
Shelby Sebens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 789-0865.
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