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

soundoff (464 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Its about MONEYor how it would look if someone running for office will be precieved by others..Put it up for a vote nationaly...Remember the words "For the people an by the people" those words mean anything anymore

    May 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  2. Joboo

    One day you potheads will wake up and realize you wasted your life on a stupid plant.......it's just not right, respect your life.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • shawn

      you live your life ill live mine.......and no excuses...just freedom to do what i want. and also...respect the way my grandparents did things....lol yea so we can tell how you want it....you like the way it is and dont want it to change....wonder why....(sounds like a anti-change person) haa! ........

      May 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        You don't like the way things have been? You don't believe in America? Typical pothead.....rebel without a clue. Poor me, people are racist, gays should marry, wah wah wah......I bet if you went to prison you'd be hanging with the other race right? You can't change natural instinct......we are who we are, just respect the other and stick with your own if possible. You don't have to accept everyone else, radical thoughts bring radical mess.

        May 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
      • Joboo

        You can keep the change haha how's that fella workin out for us eh? Oh yeah......worst president EVER, first gay one too eh? Patton would be proud I bet hahaha

        May 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Harry Wortz

      Do what you like because in the end the only thing that will matter is how much fun you had in your life.

      May 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        Wow do you have your priorities messed up, you don't have kids I ,can tell.......fun? How about leaving a legacy of decency to your kids, how about living clean and moral? We aren't animals. God you libs are a mess

        May 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
      • Joboo

        You're like 15 right? Or 35 and started smoking pot at 15, you need to change your life son.

        May 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  3. SmokeIT

    I don't smoke pot, I stopped drinking when I got sick. TV is for retarded people. Spend most my time reading liberal blogs to reinforce what I am not. The world is so gray. I believe that if it grows naturally, it should not be illegal. How people choose to live is no concern of mine.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
    • Joboo

      If its legal kids will grow to thnk it's normal, it's about the kids

      May 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Reply
      • SmokeIT

        So let's compromise and make the legal age 21.

        May 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
      • shawn

        ok....so then what Justifies RIGHT?....are forgetting to agree that we are going to disagree?

        May 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  4. Silent Bob

    Make it legal. Not just for medicinal purposes but for recreation purposes as well. Legalize it, sell it, tax it, and release all the pot prisoners who are just taking up space in the prison system. It was stupid to outlaw it in the first place, like prohibition, has done nothing good for the country or its people.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  5. soicanleavecommentsonblogs

    Do not legalize. It will be regulated and taxed to hell. Do not buy street crap from wherever. It has pesticides and mold and whatever else that has consequences. Grow your own or get from someone that does and knows how. If the city and county and state and feds do not want tax income from then great.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  6. Joboo

    Why even do it? Waste of time, energy, money, life, ability......you gotta be stupid or just don't care to smoke that garbage

    May 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • shawn

      have you ever smoked it...?........and if not then well...how does your opinion justify itself....opinions are like A%&holes, we all have one...

      May 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        So you smoke just to prove you can right? You don't need it do you? If you need it I hope it works out for ya.

        May 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Nodack

      There are all kinds of successful people that smoke pot. They don't advertise it for good reason, but speak about something you now about. It is a recreational drug like alcohol. It isn't the same as heroin or meth. Caffein is a drug. Does that ruin everybody's life that does it? It's even addictive where pot isn't.

      May 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        Not addictive? My butt it's not addictive, it's more addicting than alcohol in myopinin, ever have a sack and keep it for a month without smoking it? HA no you havent

        May 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
      • Joboo

        Successful people can be stupid too.....we measure succes by money, not by living right. Isn't that messed up?

        May 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  7. Joboo

    I smoked it for 20 years, and I regret every inute of it.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Reply
    • Bently Hathaway

      What's it like being on drugs? Were you a junkie, if so did you ever live on the streets in a cardboard box? Was your mom a junkie too and passed it on to you? I hope you teaching your kids about the dangers of using drugs, if so do you admit you were a junkie to them to? Regardless and I am sure I speak for this entire forum thanks for coming forward and giving us all something to really think about when it come's to being a drug addict like you were for 20 horrible years. Hope you stay clean Joboo, looking forward to reading your comments soon.

      May 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        I raise my kids the right way and teach them right, they are both in the gifted programs at their respective schools.......and i teach them that education and treating others the way you want to be treated is the way to go. what's it like? It's he'll on eartha nd I'm lucky I'm still alive and sane.

        May 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • Joboo

        Sane enough to pick up on your wiseass sarcasm, but that's ok.....this is how you learn

        May 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
      • Joboo

        Haha and who said I was a junkie? No needles, ever......I was stupid but not that stupid. I hope you get it together one day, I'm rooting for ya. And.......let it go,quit living in the past, it's over,people make mistakes, move on......without using.

        May 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • David May

      And because you have not been benefited by the use of pot, everyone else should suffer? Pot is not addictive. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? Please don't share your opinion if you don't have a clue what your talking about.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
  8. clearick

    Marijuana was defined as a Schedule 1 drug provisionally, and it is clearly misclassified. It was already used as a medicine years ago, but drug companies don't like it since they can't patent it or profit from it as it is a plant.

    America is supposed to be a free country where people have the right to choose how to live and what to consume. So where does the Government get off telling citizens they can't do this or that, since the country was based on the concept of freedom!?!

    From a prgamatic standpoint it turns otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals, and creates a black market which stimulates organized crime and smuggling. It also places a huge burden on taxpayers to pay the salaries of all the DEA agents, the Judges the DA's the Prisons and the Guards... This has been going on for decades, this war on drugs, and people are still doing the drugs and still being arrested.

    Laws like this are an anathema to the rights of citizens and serves no legitimate purpose. Tax the stuff, regulate it, turn people's desire for it into a business, and get the government out of the rights of people! By doing so you will save billions if not trillions in tax dollars, and stop this malinvestment all based on the idea that it is lawful to protect people from themselves.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Nodack

      Thank you.

      May 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  9. Nodack

    Pot is a lot healthier than Alcohol. Not one person has ever died from smoking pot ever. Somebody might have accidentally walked in front of a car a died, but nobody has ever died medically from smoking pot. The same can't be said about alcohol.

    There is a huge business incarcerating people. An AZ judge not long ago was arrested for taking handouts from the company that runs prisons. They were giving him money to send people to their prisons, so he was sending everybody to prison so he could make some cash. That is evil, unethical and Un American and it goes on all the time. Privately run prisons open this up for fraud and must be stopped. Sending Americans to prison to make a profit is wrong. Sending pot smokers to prison is wrong. We pay for it through taxes and we pay for the losing drug war with taxes resulting in billions spent for no reason except greed.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Reply
    • Joboo

      So it's healthier not healthy right? Two wrongs don't make a right

      May 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  10. DAllen

    If CO legalizes pot it doesn't really matter because the federal law will trump the state law.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  11. shawn

    so joboo is perfect and his/her kids are perfect and not open minded but are products of preprogramming

    May 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
    • Joboo

      If you were taught right you wouldn't be on drugs.....your mom is happy you get high right? She loves it right?

      May 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  12. Testicleese

    Isn't that swell? A judge gets cancer and suddenly it's alright to use marijuana for relief. Think of how many have suffered for years because government "leaders" STILL have their heads up their @s$es. I guess we just have to hope more of them get cancer.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  13. Joboo

    Kids aren't open minded they are naive, when you grow up you'll see and understand

    May 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
    • shawn

      lol...when i grow up....been there done that and got the shirt to prove it. kids who live sheltered lives are naive.

      May 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        My kids are anything but sheltered, they go to a very large urban school and by their own choices participate in just about everything they can, honor roll since they started......I tell them truths, not lies.....I don't say that pot is harmless and should be legalized.....THAT my dim witted little friend, is naive.

        May 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • Joboo

        Here's ow smart I am, you are a college aged white kid, maybe 24 but I doubt it and you think you're smarter than most and ou til pot makes you more open to new things and more creative, and you listen to music most people don't know about, because you are so unique and cool. You're proud when you get some special chronic, and our friends all think you have the best buds....you like metal, but you like a lot of hip hop and rap, some alternative........hahaha see? You're an open book smokey.

        May 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  14. Joboo

    I'm not perfect, just smarter than you....and that's because I've lived it for many years, and I saw the light.....sad that many of you will not, unfortunately.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
    • shawn

      smarter then me is only words from someone who's conceded. oh and actually i have a mind of my own and i think for myself. it is right for gays to marry whom ever they choose and saying no is an act of restricting rights.... and the trayvon case is more accurate on the profiling. there were many aspects that led to his death and marijuana wasnt one of them. it was someone who wasnt listening and couldnt let it go. he wasnt a officer but just a vigilanty in the waiting.....you can clearly hear it in the 911 calls.....its a shame that boy had to suffer for it

      May 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        Yeah you are right, me and the family are going to a gay pride parade tomorrow, very family oriented and just fine for kids....and that poor black kid, such a victim. There is no way he could have attacked a concerned neighborhood watchman.....young black men are peaceful, and very pleasant, I'm going on vacation with the family to beautiful east st.louis soon! Hahaha stupid liberal white kids......you're killin me

        May 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  15. blazer

    ignorant to crimnalize a plant in the first place regardless shoulda done that with cigarettes before marijuana and left marijuana alone.No nicotine in it and safer than alchohol.Ignorant leaders we have anyhow.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  16. Joboo

    I bet you potheads think that our government in dc is looking out for your best interest, and that our prezidint loves this country....right? And Trayvon was a victim because the black voices on your tv tell you so. You should feel sorry for minorities and gays because they just want to be equal right? Right thing to do right?

    May 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  17. Joboo

    Altered states

    May 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  18. em

    the annoying thing is it wasnt this hardddd to get new pills that come out every year or vodka or any substance out there like it is for pot... we didnt need the nation to vote 50+ % ..but when it comes to something that cant physically kill you unlike the rest , its sooo hard and long of a process because of the evil motives against it < .
    any argument against pot you can simply replace the word pot,marijuana ...with ___ alcohol, pills, tobacco ...and even have a better argument since pot is safer.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  19. Bootyfunk

    this article reminds me i'm almost out of pot.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
    • shawn

      i....lol*high five man*

      May 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  20. Joboo

    Anything that alters your brain and gives you a distorted view of reality is not only dangerous, but extremely dangerous. Ever meet a really really old pothead? They are completely bonkers, insane in the membrane.

    May 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
    • shawn

      its more interesting that there hasnt been a single case of marijuana killing anyone since its ever been acknowledged. also its never been proven thats its extremely dangerous, cuz id love to see that research. crack cocaine is extremely dangerous...thats been proven....ummm heroin is extremely dangerous....plus addictive also proven....marijuana proven to show positive results on multiple fronts. Want the links..?

      May 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply
      • Joboo

        Ever think that not everything you read online is true? I bet a pothead wrote it, wow are you brainwashed

        May 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
      • Joboo

        Shoving a habanero pepper up my ass won't kill me, it doesn't mean it's a good idea though.

        May 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • PMorin

      Have you ever met a chronic alcoholic? Lying in the streets having lost everything! Willing to do anything to get another drink. NO! Because cannabis is not addicting!

      May 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • David May

      You must be the single person out there telling the truth. Thank GOD for people like you. I feel so much better now that I know the TRUTH.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
  21. PassiveAgressiveTimes

    Its' 2012....and Marijuana still isn't legal?? Oxycontin and Alcohol are perfectly legal and kill our citizens everyday...when was the last time you heard of anyone Over Dosing on marijuana? Truth is...the only thing i Over Dosed on was my bank account when i couldn't buy enough food to satisfy my need for hunger.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  22. gman19

    Weed in the photo is way overpriced, $25/ gram, $75 an 1/8th.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  23. erich2112x

    I love to smoke hash right before my workout. My mind just goes somewhere else and I've found that I can endure twice the cardio. After my workout, I'm down from the hash, no hangover, no side effects, (other than food craving), and I go about my day. You can't do that with hard drugs or alcohol.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • Joboo

      Wow, that would be a great commercial....."before I workout I kick it into gear with......hashish, it gets you moving!". This ad brought to you by totally brainwashed liberal white kids

      May 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
      • David May

        Joboo, how long have you worked for the Government? You sound like someone with some deep rooted issues. My guess you work for the Prison System in some capacity. You sound like a Correctional Officer. Probably been there for 7 or 8 years and of course you believe the government reports about Marijuana. I am close?

        May 21, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • easye123

      Wow... I thought I was the only one who liked to smoke (herb, not hash) before a workout or run. For me it makes the workout more intense because I can better focus on the mind/muscle connection, and the body mechanics. Awesome!

      June 21, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
  24. shawn

    wow.....joboo, your not a role model

    May 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  25. shawn

    Where's that damn button for ejection....?

    May 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  26. Pedophile Priest

    What's the difference between a stoner and a drunk... The stoner waits for the stop sign to turn green. Legalize it!!!!

    May 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  27. Concern citizen

    Let’s legalize it and get it and the dealers out of our schools…I mean guns are legal which one is more dangerous.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  28. otto hams

    the money usa spends trying to stop it .billions and millions it give mexico..it can help the usa people ,the money the give to overseas. still no help to their own people

    May 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  29. L Liss

    Alcohol users drive into trees. Pot smokers drive into 7-11's

    May 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  30. Jose

    So when will CNN cover the indisputable facts of cannabis' safe, accepted medical use in the United States, Fareed?

    The very basis of marijuana's scheduling in the Controlled Substances Act is a demonstrably false claim, and in court it's a FELONY to suppress exculpatory evidence.

    War against millions of otherwise law abiding American citizens could be over with one honest Supreme Court "Justice" . . .

    Well??

    May 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Reply
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