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Anti-Marijuana Fanatic Insults Cancer Patient in Mean-Spirited Letter

Submitted by smorgan on

Last week, New York Times published one of the most powerful editorials about medical marijuana that I've ever seen. It was a moving personal appeal from Gustin L. Reichbach, a Justice of the NY State Supreme Court, who began treatment with marijuana after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

It's a story so moving you would have to be insane not to feel compassion for Justice Reichbach and patients like him. Unfortunately, long-time drug war defender David G. Evans is insane. In a calmly-worded, yet viciously dismissive letter to the editor, Evans suggests that the judge might be lying about his cancer treatment.

Anecdotal reports may…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.

To even suggest such a thing is offensive beyond words. We're talking about a man who is fighting for his life, a man who dedicated that life to upholding the law, and who turned to marijuana only after being handed a death sentence. From what twisted perspective would one even arrive at the idea that such a person was speaking dishonestly?

Even leaving aside what we already know about marijuana's medical benefits, what kind of monster would question a dying man's account of how he finds comfort? Evans's sickening insinuations are an exhibit in the inhumanity required to judge those who only seek relief from their suffering. Worse, he even attempts to disguise his coldness and cynicism as a form of genuine concern:

It is true compassion to make sure that medicines are safe and effective and that the claims about them are true.

It's an incredible thing to say, premised entirely on the absurd notion that David Evans is entitled to an opinion about another man's cancer treatment. As often as we've seen critics of marijuana's medical use endeavor to embarrass themselves, I can scarcely recall an episode so disgraceful, so pure and vile in its arrogance.

It's awful to think that Justice Reichbach and other patients like him might read the cruel words of people like David Evans. But let's not miss the true meaning behind Evans's senseless message. If you look back at what he wrote, it reveals a great deal about the desperation of anti-drug ideologues like Evans as they angle for attention in a debate that's increasingly been decided already in the hearts and minds of most Americans.

Faced with a powerful story from a credible and sympathetic voice, Evans saw no option other than to call him a liar. He can't even accept the basic fact that sick people find relief from medical marijuana, because even that simple and obvious truth would, by itself, overwhelm every idiotic thing he's ever said on the subject. As hurtful as his words may be, Evans's horrendous example is exactly the reason we're winning this debate.

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