I salute Justice Gustin L. Reichbach for his courageous act of civil disobedience and his willingness to admit publicly his use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Anyone who has personally suffered or has seen a friend or family member suffer from debilitating pain that traditional remedies do not sufficiently help knows that it does not permit a person to function productively. It is hard to engage in the everyday activities, like eating, sleeping, playing with children, and enjoying the company of friends and family, that make life worthwhile. One’s life becomes entirely focused on the pain.
The judge’s plea to legalize marijuana for medical purposes comes from both his head and his heart. Legally, it does not make sense to criminalize a treatment when the decision should best be left to the discretion of a patient and his doctor.
Why should a person be punished for seeking relief using a drug that is known to alleviate suffering, while causing no side effects and no harm to others? Why should his friends be exposed to arrest for their altruistic response? It seems cruel for a civilized society to withhold available help.
I hope that the New York State Legislature acts, as many other states have already done, to change the law. No more unnecessary suffering. Let’s make a person’s final days as comfortable as possible.
Brooklyn, May 17, 2012
The writer is a professor at Touro Law School.
To the Editor:
I am a cancer survivor, and my heart goes out to Justice Gustin L. Reichbach and his family.
Although Justice Reichbach reports that marijuana had a benefit for him, anecdotal reports are not reliable scientific evidence because the claimed benefits are not independently verified and do not reflect double-blind controls. Anecdotal reports may also be inaccurate because of the emotional expectations of the person using marijuana and the placebo effect. In some cases, there may be deliberate exaggeration for ideological reasons.
Public health must be protected by standards based on unbiased science and objective clinical testing, not on politics, emotion and anecdotal accounts.
The Food and Drug Administration did a comprehensive study of smoked marijuana as medicine and found that there are “no sound scientific studies” supporting the medical use of marijuana. The F.D.A.’s modern, sophisticated drug approval process is our best defense against marketing unsafe and ineffective drugs.
It is true compassion to make sure that medicines are safe and effective and that the claims about them are true.
DAVID G. EVANS
Drug Free Schools CoalitionBelvidere, N.J., May 18, 2012
To the Editor:
Like Justice Gustin L. Reichbach, I, too, suffered the depredations of cancer treatment and obtained no relief from synthetic marijuana substitutes. Though I lived in Washington, a state in which medical marijuana “possession” was legal, it was difficult to legally obtain it.
So, like Justice Reichbach, I was provided the real thing by friends. The relief was immediate, requiring no more than one or two puffs, making my treatment-racked body immeasurably more comfortable.
Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, state dispensing of the substance is a rat’s nest of conflicting laws and ordinances, rife with potential for abuse. That marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD, is beyond absurd.
It’s time for the medical community to demand action on patients’ behalf.
Santa Fe, N.M., May 17, 2012
The writer is co-author of “Breast Cancer — Getting Through It as a Couple.”