The marijuana debate, a judge's plea and readers' thoughts
May 17th, 2012
12:39 PM ET

The marijuana debate, a judge's plea and readers' thoughts

Ahead of a New York state bill that would recognize marijuana for medical purposes, a state supreme judge with cancer writes in its favor in a recent New York Times op-ed.

Gustin L. Reichbach, a justice of the New York State Supreme Court, has spent the last three and a half years battling pancreatic cancer and says inhaled marijuana is his only relief.

In his op-ed advocating legitimate clinical use of marijuana, he writes:

This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.

The issue of medical marijuana and legalizing marijuana for recreational use keeps circling in the national conversation and political scene. (The issue took over the campaign in the Oregon attorney general primary race this week, for example.)

Earlier this year on GPS, Fareed Zakaria examined the impact the war on drugs has had on the overcrowded U.S. prison system, based on the infamous comments by Pat Robertson to treat marijuana the way we treat alcohol.

As Fareed wrote:

The reason Robertson is for legalizing marijuana is that it has created a prison problem in America that is well beyond what most Americans imagine. ... No other country comes even close to our rates of incarceration.

Taking up a similar theme as Robertson, a Colorado advocacy group is spending thousands of dollars to convince people that smoking pot is safer than drinking alcohol.

It's an attempt by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to rally support for a vote in November that would legalize the drug for recreational use. (Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use in 2000.) If it were legalized, Colorado would be the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use.

One Gallup poll showed that 46% of U.S. respondents say marijuana use should remain illegal, while 50% say the use should be made legal.

It's also one of the top issues in the (unscientific) iReport Debate, in which CNN iReporters share the issue that matters most to them in the coming election.

As one reader writes: "The day we open the door to legalizing pot is the day other drugs will redesign themselves to fit the same criteria, so they may also enter. You can't say 'just this one' – 'and this one only'."

It's an issue with many opinions so what do you think? Take part in the iReport Debate and share your comments below.

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Topics: Debate • Drugs • Reader Comments

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