Delta for Kicking Him off Flight Because He Was Carrying the Drug
The Associated Press
Published: Dec 6, 2001
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – A man who legally uses marijuana for
medicinal purposes is suing Delta Air Lines for kicking him off a plane
because he was carrying the drug.
Irvin Rosenfeld, a stockbroker from Boca Raton, filed suit Wednesday in
federal court, claiming the airline violated federal protections for
people with disabilities.
Rosenfeld, 48, suffers from a rare and painful bone disease and finds
relief in smoking marijuana, which is prescribed by a doctor and grown
for the government. Every day, he smokes up to 12 marijuana cigarettes
to fight tumors.
In March, he was kept from boarding a Delta flight from Fort Lauderdale
to Washington, D.C., where he was to attend a U.S. Supreme Court session
on possible expansion of medicinal marijuana use. Officials told him he
had to leave the marijuana behind or get written permission from every
state he was flying over.
Rosenfeld’s attorney, Christopher Sharp, said refusing to seat his
client on the airliner was like kicking a diabetic off the flight for
carrying hypodermic needles and insulin.
“We’re not putting any price tag on this, but Delta’s exposure in this
is considerable,” Sharp said.
Rosenfeld is one of a handful of people in the country receiving
marijuana from the federal government because of unusual diseases. He
has smoked government-provided marijuana for nearly 30 years and says
without the drug, his condition would become so painful that he could
not walk and could hemorrhage.
Under the federal Air Carriers Access Act of 1986, Delta had to specify
in writing why Rosenfeld could not board the airplane and why he was
thought to be a threat to the safety of those on board, Sharp said. The
airline did not do that, he said.
A Delta spokeswoman said she was unaware that any Americans were
permitted to smoke marijuana.
“Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug, and I’m not aware of
any medical use exception of the nature he claims or of any private
citizen having a right to possess it in the United States,” Katie
Rosenfeld said that when Delta turned him away, he had to find a flight
on another airline and did not get to Washington until the following