Patients Explain Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Here's what some patients have to say about the benefits of medical marijuana.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The question to legalize marijuana will officially be on the ballot this November. Now it's up to the voters to decide whether or not Florida will join 20 other states and D.C. in legalizing medical marijuana. NBC 6's Keith Jones takes a look at how three families have taken advantage of medical marijuana.

    Cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed.

    Call it what you want, but 20 states in the U.S. now call it medicine.

    And Florida voters will now see medical marijuana on the November ballot. More than 1 million signatures were collected to move the issue to the ballot and the Florida Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of a ballot proposal.

    Ironically, the U.S. government, which renders the use of marijuana a felony, cultivates, packages and distributes medical marijuana to 4 people in the U.S. Elvy Musikka is one of them.

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    "I have been using marijuana for 39 years," Musikka said.

    In 1988, a federal judge ruled in her favor, saying her glaucoma could be treated with federally grown marijuana. It has proven to alleviate Musikka's symptoms. Cannabis relaxes the eye helps prevent excess fluid build up behind the optic nerve.

    Musikka lived in Hollywood for 30 years, but she now lives in Oregon and she has a prescription that allows her to light up a joint anywhere she feels is appropriate. She said she burns 8 to 10 joints a day to ease her pain.

    "My allotment back in 1988 after my trial that I became legal to get this medicine was 300 joints a month," Musikka said.

    Irving Rosenfeld is another one of the four recipients of federally grown medical marijuana. He lives in Lauderhill and said his day starts early in the morning by sparking up and settling into his den to watch financial shows. He smokes the joints to ease chronic pain set off by bone tumors.

    "They grow outwardly from the bone into the muscle into the veins, making it very painful, but more important, I can tear a muscle or tear a vein, I can hemorrhage," he said. "A clot could break off, go to my heart, brain or lungs and kill me."

    Rosenfeld receives a tin of 300 joints a month, much like Musikka's.

    Federally funded pot is low in THC -- only about 3.5 percent. While the therapeutic value is immeasurable, the Street value is negligible.

    "I don't get a euphoric affect," Rosenfeld said. "So therefore my protocol says I'm allowed to use and operate heavy machinery as long as I'm not intoxicated."

    And he does. Every day the stock broker drives to his firm taking his medicine to ease his pain. And like Musikka, Rosenfeld speaks at forums and seminars to educate the public about medicinal use, fighting to make it legal in Florida.

    While 82 percent of Floridians believe in decriminalizing pot for medical use, according to a Quinnipiac poll, the struggle to make it legal continues. The biggest opponents of medical marijuana are State Attorney Pam Bondi, who denied repeated requests for interviews, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, whose office also did not return calls.

    So why would politicians deny a patient marijuana therapy?

    Father Seth Hyman is fighting to get medical marijuana legalized for his daughter Rebecca. The 8-year-old is missing DNA, meaning she is non-verbal, cannot walk and suffers from as many as 200 epileptic seizures a day. Rebecca is completely dependent on others for simple tasks like brushing her teeth or even eating cereal.

    "We could wake up at any time in the middle of the night and Rebecca's there seizing," Hyman said. "She could stop breathing and her life is at risk."

    The Hymans were introduced to a form of medical marijuana used in Colorado called Charlotte's Web. It's a syrup derived from the cannabis plant that has almost no THC, but a high level of CBD. CBD has proven to dramatically reduce or stop seizures altogether.

    If law allows, Rebecca would ingest the drug through her feeding tube.

    The young girl whose name inspired "Charlotte's Web" suffered 300 seizures every day, but now, her mom told Hyman the girl has maybe one every month.

    Hyman has spent time on the Florida legislative floor telling Rebecca's story, imploring lawmakers to legalize Charlotte's Web.

    "Unless you live this everyday, 24/7 you have no idea what it's like," he said. "We want her to have a chance."

    Come November, the voting public will have the opportunity to give Rebecca and others who could benefit from medical marijuana that chance.