Former Smuggler to Talk About Medical Marijuana at Florida Synagogue

Former Smuggler to Talk About Medical Marijuana at Florida Synagogue

Published on 1/27/12

Former drug smuggler and member of the 'Black Tunas', Robert Platshorn will be stopping at a Florida synagogue to talk about medical marijuana to a group of seniors. His goal is to educate and inform listeners about marijuana and the benefits it can serve to people of their age. 

A 69-year-old former drug smuggler has launched The Silver Tour to recruit fellow seniors Former Smuggler to Talk About Medical Marijuana at Florida Synagogue

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 pot.

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