In the late 1970s, Robert Platshorn was a marijuana smuggler and leader of South Florida’s notorious “Black Tuna” gang.
Now, after spending 30 years in prison, Platshorn, 70, is a book author, subject of a documentary film – and an activist trying to make medical marijuana legal in the Sunshine State.
During a recent speaking engagement on legalizing marijuana, Platshorn came up with the idea for “The Silver Tour.” The idea was cemented after a neighbor told him about his elderly wife who has multiple sclerosis.
The man said his bedridden wife was often “goofy on opiates and Oxycodin” but does have good days when he could find her something to smoke, Platshorn said.
“He said, ‘Can you help me out?’ I said, ‘No, I can’t,’” Platshorn said.
It was then that he started researching the issue of medical marijuana, which is already legal in 16 states and Washington, D.C.
“What I want to do is change the law. I don’t want people to break the law,” Platshorn said. “But if you want to try that medicine for your child or your sister who has MS … it’s the only thing that gets you up and gives you a little quality of life.”
The Silver Tour has held events recently at Century Village and other retirement communities, and this Sunday it will have its biggest one yet at Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach, Platshorn said.
Rabbi Anthony Fratello of Temple Shaarei Shalom told NBC Miami that he has known many people suffering from terminal diseases, and he feels that if a substance exists that can help ease the pain and suffering those people feel, then they should have access to it.
Speakers at the event will include doctors, nurses, patients, researchers, and state lawmakers pushing for bills in the Legislature to get the issue on the November ballot.
“They come in for the free buffet. They leave saying I’m old, I can’t wait, they’ll sign letters to their congressmen, they’ll make phone calls to their senators, they’ll lobby,” Platshorn said. “Seniors vote. And that’s why I picked them.”