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News (Media Awareness Project) - US FL: Tour Promoting Medicinal Pot Legalization Among Seniors
Title:US FL: Tour Promoting Medicinal Pot Legalization Among Seniors
Published On:2012-01-25
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:03:34

A 69-year-old former drug smuggler has launched The Silver Tour to
recruit fellow seniors at South Florida retirement communities as
advocates for legal medicinal marijuana use.

Next tour stop: Temple Shaarei Shalom west of Boynton Beach, where an
estimated 300 seniors are expected Sunday.

Robert Platshorn, tour organizer and a director of the state chapter
of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws,
believes winning over voting seniors is the answer to legalizing
medicinal pot in Florida.

He doesn't have to "preach to the choir" and get youths on board, he
says, because seniors could hold the key to a successful campaign. The
elderly may benefit from using marijuana to treat an increasing number
of conditions from insomnia to multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease
that plague them as they age, he said.

"My generation invented marijuana as we know it. They're really a
receptive audience," Platshorn said. "We go into places where people
are not aware or educated, but possibly curious about medical
marijuana. I make it a point to not work with audiences of activists."

Platshorn began his tour about six months ago after promoting his book
that chronicled the operations of the Black Tunas gang, which ran a
multimillion-dollar marijuana-smuggling ring in 1970s Miami. Platshorn
served nearly 30 years in prison for his involvement.

The Reform synagogue is not sponsoring Sunday's event or taking a
position on the issue, but Rabbi Anthony Fratello says he's stood at
the bedside of cancer and AIDS patients and sympathizes with those who
believe marijuana can alleviate pain and treat illnesses, but can't
legally obtain it.

"As a religious leader, as a person of conscience, I'm in favor of
people being able to get access to substances that may provide them
some relief," he said.

The Union for Reform Judaism has called for medicinal marijuana
research and use under physician supervision. Platshorn says he has
asked several local Reform synagogues to host his program there, too.

The Silver Tour has made presentations at Century Village in Pembroke
Pines and Golden Lakes in West Palm Beach, where Platshorn lives.

About 100 people attended, Platshorn said. The program introduces
medical-pot patients and medical professionals who support it.

Platshorn encourages seniors to sign form letters addressed to state
legislators and to call members of Congress in support of medicinal

State Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, who will be a speaker Sunday,
has introduced a bill in the Legislature to put legalizing medical
marijuana on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical

"We have a lot of seniors in our community and people with terminal
illnesses that truly believe they derive relief from medical
marijuana," Clemens said, "I think it would be awfully cruel of us to
tell them they can't have it.

"The country is moving in this direction, and we need to catch up," he
said. "This is an issue whose time is coming, whether it happens this
year or not."

Opponents, on the other hand, argue that marijuana use can be
addictive and lead to use of harder drugs. They also say it is
unnecessary given legal prescription drugs available to treat chronic

Platshorn argues that people addicted to legal prescription drugs
could swap those pharmaceuticals for medicinal pot, a natural
substance that has been used for thousands of years.

"We live in a state that has more pill mills than the rest of the
country put together," he said, "Most of the illnesses that are being
treated with heavy opiates could be mitigated with cannabis.

"I think I can use my infamy for good," he said.

If you go

WHAT: The Silver Tour, promoting legalized medical marijuana in

WHEN: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Temple Shaarei Shalom, 9085 Hagen Ranch Road, west of Boynton


reservations: Call 561-364-9054, ext. 101.
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