Prior to his release in 2008, Robert ?Black Tuna? Platshorn spent more time behind bars for marijuana than any other American ever has and maybe ever will, serving nearly thirty years in federal lock up on a first-time, non-violent smugg...
Prior to his release in 2008, Robert ?Black Tuna? Platshorn spent more time behind bars for marijuana than any other American ever has and maybe ever will, serving nearly thirty years in federal lock up on a first-time, non-violent smuggling conviction. Coincidentally, that's exactly how long the very same federal government has been supplying Irv Rosenfeld with 300 ready-to-smoke joints each and every month.
On Monday, Platshorn and Rosenfeld will travel to Washington, DC, to lobby Congress and speak at a press conference in support of HR 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, which would modify the Controlled Substances Act to make any individual or business in compliance with state law immune from federal prosecution. They'll join a broad political coalition in calling for an end to the DEA's ongoing campaign of raids and intimidation, including hundreds of fellow senior citizens bused into the nation's capital as part of Platshorn's Silver Tour, which works to educate the country's most powerful voting block about the many proven benefits of medical cannabis.
?When we started a couple of years ago, seniors didn't talk about marijuana. And the media definitely didn't talk about seniors and marijuana. But that's all changed, which I think has been responsible for a large number of people?especially politicians?re-evaluating their positions,? Platshorn informs me, citing positive press his organization has garnered in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, plus feature segments on CNN and The Daily Show. ?And once legislators see hundreds of white haired old folks walking the halls of Congress, wearing great big credentials that say "76% of Physicians Worldwide Support Medical Marijuana Legalization", with a citation from the New England Journal of Medicine, that will really turn some heads, and maybe even make them afraid to keep supporting the failed status quo.?
Back when he first regained his freedom, Platshorn focused on finishing the memoir he'd started writing in prison, with plans to sell the film rights and spend his golden years living like Jimmy Buffett in the Florida Keys. While on stage at the 2010 Seattle Hempfest, however, in the middle of telling an old smuggling tale that had the crowd at the nation's largest pro-pot event spellbound, he suddenly realized that preaching to the choir felt great, but accomplished little. Meanwhile, all the polls showed that older voters voiced the strongest opposition to legalization in any form, and yet nobody seemed to be reaching out to his generation directly, with a message tailored to their unique needs and concerns.
So, to help educate this geriatric demographic, Platshorn started organizing informational seminars at retirement communities near his South Florida home, where the promise of a free buffet guaranteed him a captive audience willing to listen to just about anything with an open mind. Next, he raised more than $10,000 on Kickstarter to produce a 28 minute video called Should Grandma Smoke Pot?, and begin airing it as an infomercial.
A highly successful product pitchman in the Billy Mays vein long before he ever entered the underground ganja business, Platshorn begins each direct appeal by highlighting his own Kafkaesque experience with the War on Weed, to heart-wrenching effect. Then, after describing the racist underpinnings of cannabis prohibition, past and present, and the many government lies told to maintain it, he turns things over to a physician, to run down the science behind medical marijuana, including the fact that it has no lethal dose or dangerous side effects, is non-toxic, won't interfere with prescription medications, and can be used without smoking, or even without getting high. Followed by personal appeals from chronically ill pot patients, a lawyer's perspective on the many harms of the black market, and a call to contact local, state and federal politicians in support of reform.
?When I first heard the