New York Judge Admits To Using Medical Marijuana To Relieve Pain From Cancer

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.

Reichbach writes:

“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.[1]
Legal career

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.

Source: New York Times as first seen on ABA Journal.

71 thoughts on “New York Judge Admits To Using Medical Marijuana To Relieve Pain From Cancer

  1. Here is Frank in Europe after his marijuana bust in LA. The War on Drugs stole this mans career. And for what?
    He never stopped smoking marijuana, it certainly didn’t hurt his playing or his life, he had so many friends and a full healthy interaction with all of life.

    Everyone loved Frank, he worked hard touring the beautiful small concert halls all over the EU:

  2. Distraction: MIchael Connely Harry Bosch novels, any real connection? It was commmented on Youtube, know nothing about Connely. For me such loaning an artists rep is bad ethics, but not if they associated.
    He sure looked at peace with Grace Kelly. he’d had been a welcome addition to my life in Stockholm.
    He looked like everybody’s favorite uncle there with Grace.
    Wonder how he looked at 30? Was he more strongly exeubeant then?

    Why not Frank and me, rather why not jazz and me. (Why innvolve me? Because it allows the eternal question what do you find in modern jazz?) Well could’t understand jazz direct in the heart. One day it happened, completely, but never so again. I wonder what part of the mind produces such a bowl of juicy noodles? What’s your relation to modern jazz? I’m still looking at Picasso, and searching for the horse’s head. But at times, everything (exaggeration) “pop” into place. And then it is SO SO CLEAR.
    Will tell you of my flower shops experiences sometime.


  3. My Rabbi had pancreatic cancer. Mortality is extremely high for those suffering from this cancer. The man is extremely sick and it brings me a lot of personal emotional pain as well to see him this way. He is bedridden and has not been in synagogue for months, I could easily find him cannabis but I doubt he would take it.

    I hope Justice Reinbach survives and also has a continued improved quality of life using cannabis. Obama my vote for you is now wavering.

  4. I am so sorry for what your Rabbi is suffering, as well as the others mentioned here.
    Obama doesn’t know unless you (we) tell him, call the white house 2124561111/your reps, find numbers at

  5. Does anyone really think that taking marijuana has harmed Bill Maher? He became a multimillionaire and probably smokes marijuana every day.

    Or has it harmed Woody Harrellson or any of the other people in society who are ‘out’ about their marijuana use?

    Because I do not think it has hurt these people in any way. It is not an addictive drug. Marijuana should be legalized, period. When the last three of our POTUS have smoked marijuana, when is it going to be time?

    When do we stop playing Russian Roulette with peoples lives in this nation over a plant, a drug that is not addictive and has no known way to overdose? This is a harmless drug that should not be ruining peoples lives, the War on Drugs swept me up in that net, it makes me very sure that thousands of innocent people have had to defend themselves each and every year. What a waste of rescources.

    The ONLY thing bad about marijuana is the legal system can ruin your life. I would not blame that on the drug itself, laws can and should be changed.

    It should be taxed, regulated and legal just like the more harmful substances that are legal, alcohol & cigarettes.

    You should be able to get a prescription for marijuana just like the vastly more dangerous opiate based drugs. It makes no sense that all these more dangerous substances are legal and regulated while this harmless one is a Schedule 1. It is a lie that probably increases use in young people.

    My sister ran the DARE program in Denver. She said kids KNOW when they are being lied to. When these drug programs lie to kids about marijuana, it makes them skeptical about anything and everything else they are teaching. So the lies have to end about this substance. It does no one any good at all.

  6. Another casualty of the Drug War. A grandmother in jail for the rest of her life:

    FORT WORTH – The U.S. government didn’t offer a reward for the capture of Houston grandmother Elisa Castillo, nor did it accuse her of touching drugs, ordering killings, or getting rich off crime.

    But three years after a jury convicted her in a conspiracy to smuggle at least a ton of cocaine on tour buses from Mexico to Houston, the 56-year-old first-time offender is locked up for life – without parole.

    “It is ridiculous,” said Castillo, who is a generation older than her cell mates, and is known as “grandma” at the prison here. “I am no one.”

    Convicted of being a manager in the conspiracy, she is serving a longer sentence than some of the hemisphere’s most notorious crime bosses – men who had multimillion-dollar prices on their heads before their capture.

    The drug capos had something to trade: the secrets of criminal organizations. The biggest drug lords have pleaded guilty in exchange for more lenient sentences.

    Castillo said she has nothing to offer in a system rife with inconsistencies and behind-the-scenes scrambling that amounts to a judicial game of Let’s Make A Deal.

    “Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped,” declared Terry Nelson, who was a federal agent for over 30 years and is on the executive board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “They have the power, and if you don’t play the game, they’ll throw the book at you.”

    Castillo maintains her innocence, saying she was tricked into unknowingly helping transport drugs and money for a big trafficker in Mexico. But she refused to plead guilty and went to trial.”

  7. These drugs are legal too:

    To fight our insane wars, we’re wrecking our soldiers’ ability to live with themselves and function in society, then regulating what’s left of them with chemicals, which often make things immeasurably worse.
    The modern Army psychiatrist’s deployment kit is likely to include nine kinds of antidepressants, benzodiazepines for anxiety, four antipsychotics, two kinds of sleep aids, and drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a 2007 review in the journal Military Medicine.

    In the pursuit of order, could we possibly be creating more chaos, not simply externally — in the shattered countries we’re leaving in our wake — but internally, in the minds of those soldiers?

    The Los Angeles Times noted that Air Force pilot Patrick Burke was recently acquitted in a court-marital hearing on charges of auto theft, drunk driving and two counts of assault — due to “polysubstance-induced delirium.” This was, the Times explained, a turning point: the first official acknowledgement, by military psychiatrists and a court-martial judge, that the drugs that have become a routine part of military service — in Burke’s case, the prescribed amphetamine Dexedrine (“go pills”) — can contribute to temporary insanity.

    “After two long-running wars with escalating levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures recently disclosed to The Times by the U.S. Army surgeon general,” Kim Murphy writes in the Times article. “Nearly 8 percent of the active-duty Army is now on sedatives and more than 6 percent is on antidepressants — an eightfold increase since 2005.”

    Murphy quotes psychiatrist Peter Breggin, who has written on the correlation between drug use and violence: “Prior to the Iraq war, soldiers could not go into combat on psychiatric drugs, period. Not very long ago . . . you couldn’t even go into the armed services if you used any of these drugs, in particular stimulants.”

    “Nearly 8 percent of the active-duty Army is now on sedatives and more than 6 percent is on antidepressants — an eightfold increase since 2005.”

    Now he’s hearing from soldiers who tell him “the psychiatrist won’t approve their deployment unless they take psychiatric drugs.”

    Uh, this sounds like addiction, and not on the part of the soldiers. The military itself is addicted to . . . well, as Murphy explains, “the modern Army psychiatrist’s deployment kit is likely to include nine kinds ofantidepressants, benzodiazepines for anxiety, four antipsychotics, two kinds of sleep aids, and drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a 2007 review in the journal Military Medicine.”

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