Seniors Take On Medical Marijuana

August 01, 2007
Washington, D.C. -- A Florida medical marijuana patient, Irv Rosenfeld, who receives his medicine from the federal government, was interviewed by the country’s largest television network devoted to retirement programming for a news magazine segment that aired today in millions of homes across the U.S. The program Viewpoint, produced by Retirement Living Television (RLTV), which boasts 29 million viewers, also interviewed Dr. Bertha Madras, the Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. And, an RLTV promotional program, Daily Café, which aired yesterday, included an interview with Caren Woodson, the Director of Government Affairs for Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy organization.

According to RLTV, its program Viewpoint sought to investigate “the relationship between seniors living with chronic pain and their choice to use medical marijuana to alleviate their constant discomfort.” In addition to providing important and relevant information on medical marijuana to seniors by way of its television program, RLTV also offers additional information on-line at www.rl.tv. According to its website, RLTV considers itself “the new voice of a generation under-served by the media industry,” and “the foremost experts on aging and seniors.” RLTV is currently polling its viewers on the issue, and so far claims that 82% support medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation.

Today’s RLTV Viewpoint segment is especially timely in its focus on a Los Angeles dispensary, California Patients Group (CPG), which served more than a thousand patients over the age of fifty. After the RLTV interview was conducted, CPG was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), had its assets seized, and was forced to close. “This action against CPG and other facilities in the Los Angeles area shows the extent to which the federal government will go to undermine California’s medical marijuana law and patients’ right to choose their medicine,” said CPG operator Don Duncan.

Dr. John Benson, one of the co-investigators at the National Academy of Sciences, who issued the 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on medical marijuana, was also interviewed for the Viewpoint program. Dr. Benson and others concluded in the IOM report, a million-dollar investigative report commissioned by the Clinton Administration that, “Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs [medical marijuana] for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation.” The IOM report also urged further research, a recommendation that has been ignored by the federal government.

This is not the first time a major retirement-focused organization has taken on the issue of medical marijuana. In December 2004, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) released a report, which found that 72% of people surveyed who were 45-years and older “agree that adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it.” Nearly one-third of those surveyed admitted that they smoked marijuana.

In order to educate both seniors, and the physicians caring for them, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has developed a booklet on “medical marijuana and aging” that is disseminated to literally thousands of people nationwide. This education is necessary due in part to the federal government position that “marijuana has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Advocates are hopeful that with the efforts of RLTV, ASA, and others, medical marijuana can be effectively used by our country’s aging population and by all who might benefit from its therapeutic properties.

RLTV Viewpoint promotional segment (full program available tomorrow): http://www.rl.tv/OurShows/Viewpoint/tabid/598/Default.aspx
AARP 2004 Report: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/AARP.medical_marijuana.pdf
Institute of Medicine 1999 Report: http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/marimed/
ASA booklet on Aging and Medical Marijuana: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/aging_booklet

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