MEDICINAL MARIJUANA USER SUES DELTA
FORT LAUDERDALE – A man who legally uses marijuana for medicinal purposes is suing Delta Air Lines for kicking him off a plane in March.
Irvin Rosenfeld, a stockbroker from Boca Raton in neighboring Palm Beach County, filed his lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale under the federal Air Carriers Access Act of 1986.
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. He says he is one of seven people in the United States permitted to smoke marijuana. Every day, he smokes up to 12 marijuana cigarettes, about two every two hours, to fight tumors.
Without the drug, he says, his condition would become so painful that he could not walk, and could suffer hemorrhaging. He says smoking the marijuana dulls his constant pain but does not make him euphoric.
Rosenfeld is suing over a March 26 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. A Delta employee told him he could not board the plane with his canister of legal cannabis.
Rosenfeld’s attorney, Christopher C. 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.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, people with disabilities are protected against discrimination. Violation can lead to punitive damages.
Under the law, 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.
However, a Delta spokeswoman said the law was on the airline’s side.
“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,” said Delta’s Katie Connell.
Rosenfeld said that when Delta turned him away, he had to retrieve his checked luggage. He then found a flight on another airline and did not get to Washington until the following afternoon.