Pubdate: Fri, 18 May 2012
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2012 Daily News, L.P.
Author: Oren Yaniv, New York Daily News


A Brooklyn Judge Has Given New Meaning To The High

Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach revealed Thursday he illegally
smokes pot to battle the side-effects from treatment of his pancreatic
cancer - and implored state lawmakers to lighten up and pass a medical
marijuana law.

"Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from
nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep,"
he wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times. "It is barbaric to deny
[cancer patients] access to one substance that has proved to
ameliorate our suffering."

The 65-year-old jurist, who routinely hears criminal cases involving
illegal drug possession, said he enjoys a few puffs before dinner and
takes more tokes before hitting the hay. His friends supply him with
the weed, he said.

Reichbach was diagnosed with the fatal disease three and a half years
ago and was told by doctors he had only months to live. He said a
debilitating regimen of treatments has kept him going long past his
life expectancy - but at a steep cost.

"My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of
chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery," he wrote.

His controversial stance drew cheers from politicians pushing for the
passage of a medical marijuana bill in Albany.

One of the bill's sponsors, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island),
called the editorial "incredibly moving and brave."

Reichbach's admission could jeopardize his standing as a judge. A
court official called his confession "extremely unusual."

The state's Commission on Judicial Conduct could hold an inquiry
leading to the judge being cautioned, admonished, censured or removed.

An administrator declined to comment on Reichbach, citing the
commission's confidentiality policy.

Any disciplinary action would take at least a year - more time than
doctors give the judge, a source said. His cancer had disappeared for
a year, but came back a month ago, meaning another round of treatment.

Reichbach still takes the bench most days. He sent a man to four
months in prison Thursday for larceny and fraud.

A judge for more than 20 years, he boasts of never being overturned on
appeal. Lawyers hold him in high regard, but some of his rulings have
sparked controversy.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly blasted him once for letting an
accused cop shooter out on bail.

On Tuesday, the state Assembly's health committee approved a medical
marijuana bill for a full vote. The Assembly appears poised to pass
the legislation, but it has never come to a vote in the Senate.
Sixteen states allow the use of medical marijuana.
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