Back to Butch’s Bar hosts cannabis educators

OKEECHOBEE — Jeffrey W. Kennedy, who recently reopened Back to Butch’s Bar on Southeast U.S. 441, co-founded and created a website about eight years ago to help educate the public about the safety of using medical cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. Now, he’s bringing that mission to his bar, planning to offer a series of seminar-type gatherings this coming month at Butch’s featuring a variety of speakers, including himself.

“Back To Butch’s Bar sponsors a legal, registered nonprofit every month as a way of giving back to this great community we live in,” said a note he sent to the Lake Okeechobee News. “Back To Butch’s Bar will be sponsoring I’mAPatientNotACriminal.org,” which is the website he established back when medical cannabis could not be used legally in Florida.

He said he already has had two fund-raisers for local groups. “Trail of Hope, we did over three grand for them; the month before that was the Veterans Council. We raised over $2,000 for them. The nonprofits, when they come in, they bring the food in on the weekends, and they sell the food for a donation. That way they’re able to raise money, and they also do raffles,” he said, noting that he wants to do one every month but had no takers in March.

“For the month of April we will be educating the town on medical cannabis,” Mr. Kennedy’s note announced. He explained that he himself is a cancer patient who has eschewed the use of pharmaceuticals and is treating the disease only with cannabis.

Mr. Kennedy will speak each Saturday in April about his experiences, beginning with his August 2009 arrest on drug trafficking charges in Palm Beach County after his home had been burglarized and his “miracle medical cannabis garden” was discovered. Charges were dismissed roughly 18 months later, in May 2011, and in the meantime Mr. Kennedy became a vocal advocate for medical marijuana and its use, also working to assist patients who have been arrested for using it and are fighting charges through his charity organization. Then in 2013, he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, cancer of the blood, but never has used pharmaceutical remedies, telling his doctors he wanted to treat it without them, using medical cannabis. They wished him luck.

A few years later, Floridians voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional amendment (in 2016) to legalize medical marijuana use, and the legislature and state Department of Health set up a system to give licensed patients access in 2017.

The seminar lineup is as follows:

• Dr. Ramesh Kumar, a radiation oncologist with an office in the Big Lake Cancer Center in Okeechobee, will speak on consecutive Saturdays, April 6 and 13, from 1 to 5 p.m., including a question-and-answer period. He’ll talk about cancer and how cannabis can be effective in treating it.

• Daniel Meara, co-owner of Sunshine Vape & Coffee LLC in Okeechobee, is the featured speaker April 20, when Mr. Kennedy and Back to Butch’s will be hosting a fund-raising barbecue and party with live music from the band Redneck Crazy (1-4 p.m.); Mr. Meara will then explain some observed benefits from and details about the use of cannabidiol or CBD oils, from 5 to 8 p.m. Those are derived mainly from the related hemp plant at present, which people may buy in Florida without a medical marijuana use license. Mr. Meara’s shop on South Parrott Avenue sells hemp-based CBD and other products and will have a booth at each of these Saturday events.

• Finally, on April 27, Irving Rosenfeld, one of the longest-living medical cannabis patients still alive, will talk from 1 to 5 p.m. about his experiences. He is a federal government-registered medical cannabis patient for over 30 years, one of only about two dozen ever authorized in the United States, who took on the government back in the 1980s and won.

Mr. Rosenfeld has been receiving free cannabis from the government since then, paid for by federal tax revenue. He’ll bring a “tin” of the 30 joints he receives monthly for free from the federal government.

Mr. Kennedy suggested Googling “Jeffrey Kennedy and medical cannabis” for anyone interested in further information.

“Back To Butch’s Bar is trying to educate to give others a choice,” he explained.

Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com.

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