Marijuana User Kept Off Plane Files Suit

Man Has Prescription, Alleges Discrimination

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — When one of the seven people in the country legally allowed to puff marijuana called a news conference in the summer and threatened to sue Delta Air Lines for refusing to allow him on a plane with his herbal medicine, he was not just blowing smoke.

Irvin Rosenfeld, a 48-year-old Boca Raton stockbroker, never got the apology he wanted, so he filed a federal discrimination lawsuit Wednesday in Ft. Lauderdale, seeking unspecified monetary damages and a promise from Delta that it would stop violating the Air Carriers Access Act of 1986.

Rosenfeld has a rare and painful bone disease but finds relief in smoking marijuana, prescribed by a doctor and grown for the government. The smoking dulls the pain but does not make him euphoric, Rosenfeld said.

On an average day, Rosenfeld said, he smokes about a dozen marijuana cigarettes.

Rosenfeld said he alerted Delta a month before the March flight and that the airline had cooperated in the dozen or so times he has flown during the last 18 years.

But when he went to board a flight bound for Washington, D.C., where he was to attend a U.S. Supreme Court session on medicinal marijuana, a Delta worker told him he could not board with his canister of cannabis.

Refusing him a seat on the airliner was like booting a diabetic person from the flight because he carried hypodermic needles and insulin, said Christopher Sharp, Rosenfeld’s lawyer.

The Air Carrier Access Act protects against discrimination for a disability, and a violation can result in punitive damages. Under the act, Delta was required to specify in writing why Rosenfeld could not board the airline, which it did not do, Sharp said.

Rosenfeld said he showed the Delta counter agent his prescription and even called a Broward County sheriff’s officer to the counter to verify his claim.

Delta, however, said the law is on its side.

“Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug, and I’m not aware of any medical use exception of the nature he claims,” said Katie Connell, a Delta spokeswoman.

Detroit Free Press