Pot Smoker Demands Apology From Delta

Aug. 16, 2001 -- Irvin Rosenfeld needs marijuana.

He's not an addict, but the 49-year-old stockbroker has a rare and painful bone disease that 19 years ago led the federal government to not only prescribe marijuana for him, but to provide him with the narcotic as well.

He is one of only eight people in the United States legally allowed to use marijuana.

In March, Rosenfeld was invited to file a brief for a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on medical marijuana. As he said he had done many times before, he booked his flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Washington on Delta, telling the airline he would be traveling with the drug.

Usually, he said, the airline was very helpful, understanding that he needs the drug to stay out of pain.

That's why he was so surprised when he was paged at the airport just minutes before his flight. A Delta employee explained that the airline's attorneys were banning him from traveling with the drug. "You need permission from every state you're flying over," he said an employee told him.

Apology Demanded

Rosenfeld traveled to Washington on another airline, not disclosing that he was carrying the pot. He arrived in time to file his brief, but now he wants Delta to apologize, promise he'll never encounter the same problems again, and give him a refund of his non-refundable ticket.

Rosenfeld and his attorney called the airline's new restriction illegal, saying federal law supercedes state law.

Since the government actually gives him the marijuana, Rosenfeld said it doesn't matter whether individual states give him permission to fly with the drug or not.

Additionally, Rosenfeld and his attorney said that Delta violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by preventing him from traveling with his prescribed medication. "Would they prevent a diabetic from traveling with insulin?" Rosenfeld rhetorically asked in an interview with ABCNEWS.com.

Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Cindy Kurczewski said the carrier's attorneys are reviewing the situation. "We're looking into it," she said. "I can't comment further."

Rosenfeld and his attorney, who called a news conference Wednesday, gave Delta 30 days to respond.