As we have wrestled the issue in numerous courts and have been following the many battles being fought on numerous fronts, over on the East Coast, a judge who served for nearly two decades in New York wrote a poignant editorial in The New York Times regarding his journey to advocacy of medical marijuana.
It’s a testament to why we do this work in the first place, and why this issue is one that is truly worth the fight.
Gustin Reichbach, a 65-year-old justice of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, wrote that it was shortly after his birthday, about three years ago, that his doctor found a mass on his pancreas.
After a terrifying battery of tests, he was told that he had Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Worse, he would likely be dead within the next six months, he was told.
Miraculously, that has turned out not to be the case. Justice Reichbach is now in the rare company og those who have survived with this deadly disease. He admits that in all his time on the bench, he never believed he would end up advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana.
In order to survive, he reports undergoing torturous months of chemotherapy, radiation that he described as “hell” and surgery he called “brutal.”
For a time, it seemed the cancer may be gone. However, it has since returned. Now, he’s starting an even more aggressive form of treatment. Twice a month, after enduring three hours of chemotherapy, he has to wear a pump that gradually pumps even more drugs into his system over the course of two days.
During these sessions, he says, he is overcome with pain and nausea. He struggles through these treatments to be able to eat. In his case, losing weight could be deadly. What was once something from which he derived great pleasure, he says, is now a battlefield. Each time he is able to shovel a forkful into his mouth, he considers it at least one small victory.
He takes fistfuls of medication daily. For every one that is prescribed for one problem, he says there are two more to counter the side effects. His pain medication causes constipation and loss of appetite. Medication that he takes to fight off nausea raises his glucose levels – a problem that could prove fatal in his weakened condition. He also has been battling insomnia.
He says the only thing that has provided him relief – that keeps his nausea at bay, stimulates his appetite and allows him to sleep – is marijuana that is inhaled. He tried using the pill form, known as Marinol, but says it did nothing for him.
Because medical marijuana is not yet legal in New York state, the justice says his friends have risked their personal freedom in order to find and give him this substance.
As he puts it: “This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and human rights issue.”
The federal government could do a great deal of good by dropping their senseless campaign to shut down Los Angeles dispensaries and embracing this philosophy.
The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Southern California– including growers, dispensaries and collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
A Judge’s Plea for Pot, By Gustin L. Reichbach, The New York Times