Judge Gustin Reichbach of Brooklyn has written an extraordinary op-ed in the New York Times where he admits to breaking the law by using marijuana to relieve his suffering from Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. New York does not allow such use of marijuana and the Obama Administration has been cracking down with raids and arrests over the use of medical marijuana. Reichbach details how, with cancer treatment, “Nausea and pain are constant companions. ” As a result, “I did not foresee that after having dedicated myself for 40 years to a life of the law, including more than two decades as a New York State judge, my quest for ameliorative and palliative care would lead me to marijuana.” But his admits that he came to rely on the drug and has added his voice to thousands who defend the use of medical marijuana. He is a justice of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
Cancer patients have long said that marijuana was the only drug that relieved the worst symptoms of cancer treatments. My wife has told me that her mother took medical marijuana as she was dying from breast cancer and said that the drug had a significant impact on reducing her pain and discomfort.
“Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless. Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep.”
His account is an important attention to the thousands of other medical marijuana users in this country. Obama’s prosecution of suppliers of medical marijuana and pressure on states that have decriminalized the use of the drug is nothing short of shameful. He has shocked many by his aggressive campaign against those states and his Administration’s expansion of medical marijuana prosecutions. Efforts to stop the raids by Obama Administration have been made in Congress but the Administration has successfully opposed such moves. While once promising to stop the raids and reduce prosecutions, the Administration has reversed course and is now conducting an all-out efforts against medical marijuana. Obama has been described as ” to the right of Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Ronald Reagan and even George W. Bush on this issue.” Even Rick Perry defended the right of the states to allow medical marijuana.
Judge Reichbach’s account should be reading for every member of Congress, particularly his insistence that “[t]his is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue.”
I find it bizarre that so much effort has been expended against people using marijuana to relieve their pain. We have no problem loading them up with far more powerful drugs like morphine but prosecute them for using marijuana. When you have cancer, like Judge Reichbach and say that it helps you, I am inclined to be happy that it brings you relief. Thousands of sick people have stated that it brings them relief and yet the Obama Administration continues to waste resources and money to try to cut off their ability to use the drug. Now that is the definition of “Reefer Madness.”
As for Judge Gustin Reichbach, there will likely be calls for his removal from the bench as an admitted drug user and presumptive criminal. How do you think the bar should react? It would seem that there is a basis for prosecutors to ask for his recusal on drug cases. Would you agree that he should recuse himself from all drugs or just marijuana case or no cases?
Here is his background:
Reichbach received his B.A. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1967 and his J.D. degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1970.
Reichbach began his career in 1972 as private practice lawyer in New York. He worked in this capacity until 1990 and also practiced law in California from 1974 to 1976. From 1972 to 1974, he was also an instructor at Brooklyn College and, in 1974 and 1975, he served as Counsel to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. His judicial career began in 1991 when he joined the New York City Civil Court of Kings County. He was then elected to the Supreme Court in 1999. Additionally, he served in 2003 as an International Judge for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and was a Permanent Member of the Kosovo Supreme Court in 2004.