Fort Lauderdale Lawyer Leading Fight To Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML head Norman Kent says legalizing marijuana is about civil rights

By Keith Jones
|  Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013  |  Updated 11:38 PM EDT
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Fort Lauderdale attorney Norman Kent, the head of NORML, says his fight to change marijuana laws began in 1971 at Hofstra University. Irvin Rosenfeld, 60, a stockbroker in Fort Lauderdale, is one of only four people in the country who receives medicinal marijuana directly from the U.S. government.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Norman Kent, the head of NORML, says his fight to change marijuana laws began in 1971 at Hofstra University. Irvin Rosenfeld, 60, a stockbroker in Fort Lauderdale, is one of only four people in the country who receives medicinal marijuana directly from the U.S. government.

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The cylindrical tin is 6 inches across and 4 inches deep. He peels off the cover. Inside is what could be called a gold mine of marijuana – 300 marijuana cigarettes that stare back at 60-year-old Irvin Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld, who smokes 10-12 a day, sits in the courtyard of the Fort Lauderdale company where he works as a stockbroker and explains his stash is completely legal.

Rosenfeld is one of only four people in the entire country who receives medicinal marijuana directly from the U.S. government. Every 25 days, he receives a tin full of pot that eases chronic pain from a rare bone disorder. It took him 10 years of court battles to get federal authorities to accept that medical marijuana was more productive than other narcotics.

Now, the collective fight has a new face. Fort Lauderdale attorney Norman Kent is now the head of NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Kent says his fight began in 1971 at Hofstra University.

"The Nassau County police raided our dormitories and arrested 35 students for smoking pot,” he says. “I was outraged and infuriated.”

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Kent has kept that intensity for more than 40 years.

In his first major legal victory, in 1982, he sued the state of Florida for spraying the deadly herbicide paraquat on marijuana fields.

With a doctor's permission to ease the effects of lymphoma, Kent is a self-proclaimed pot smoker. However, he says, it's more than just lighting up – it is about civil rights.

"It's not just a drug war, it’s a war against individual sovereignty, personal freedom, the ability of a human being to exercise dominion over his being,” he says.

The states of Colorado and Washington legalized the use of marijuana.

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Since then, Kent says, the national fight for legal marijuana, medicinal marijuana, or decriminalizing it has intensified.

There are hundreds of "NORML" chapters and more than 500 lawyers fighting the fight.

"America will recognize that responsible adults have the right to consume cannabis and the laws will protect them and not prosecute them,” Kent says.

Rosenfeld says Kent is the perfect person to lead the advocacy.

"Norman's been fighting the fight for a long time as an attorney and as an ambassador for medical cannabis,” he says.

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