Letters for December 10, 2009

The effects of pot prohibition

Re “Growing pains” (Greenways, by Shannon Rooney, Dec. 3):

Every one of the problems that you point out is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. Don’t blame [Proposition] 215 for these problems; blame the federal government for attacking the legal patients who are trying to follow the law. Why would you ever grow in your house if the feds come in and take it from you and put you in prison?

The reason that you get bad people growing in the forest is, who else would risk their freedom? They at least have a chance to not go to prison when they grow on public land. Prohibition does not work.

As far as the facts go: In 2003, Patent No. 6,630,507 was awarded to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asserting that cannabinoids are neuro-protectants and anti-inflammatory agents, useful in the prevention and treatment of stroke, trauma, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and HIV dementia, as well as many other diseases.

The AMA came out and said that marijuana should be removed from Schedule 1. If we let facts, not lies, make the choice, then marijuana would be legal already, but people seem to think that their misinformation is true.

Marijuana has been medicine in the world for more than 5,000 years. Read The Emperor Wears No Clothes and see what the truth really is. It has documented facts, not hearsay and hatred. The most dangerous thing about marijuana is prison.

James Stacy

Editor’s note: For the record, the American Medical Association has recommended that classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug be reconsidered. It has not made a recommendation on how it should be scheduled.

Re “The politics of pot” (feature story, by Robert Speer, Dec. 3):

The drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. In 2008, there were 847,863 marijuana arrests in the U.S., almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend enormous public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis.

The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower rates of use. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. An admitted former pot smoker, President Obama has thus far maintained the prohibition status quo rather than pursued change. Would Barack Obama be in the White House right now if he had been convicted of a marijuana offense in his youth?

Decriminalization is a long-overdue step in the right direction. Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the $50 billion drug war obsolete.

As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

Robert Sharpe
Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.

Pot smoke is OK

Re “Dark side of green” (Sifter, Dec. 3) and “Pot without smoke” (Uncommon Sense, Dec. 3):

You mention the health hazards associated with marijuana, including the carcinogens consumed when it’s smoked. I am surprised that you are not aware of the recent studies, most notably the UCLA/Pepperdine 30-year study that found no connection between smoking marijuana and cancer (see the Washington Post, May 26, 2006). They found that long-term and frequent users of the drug had a lower incidence of cancer than even nonsmokers.

Also, a 2000 study at Complutense University and Autonoma University in Madrid, Spain, found that THC kills tumor cells in advanced glioma, a quick-killing cancer, and this was done with low doses and advanced cases.

Last, refer to Canadian Rick Simpson (Phoenixtears.ca), who has used hemp oil (hash oil) to cure various cancers, including melanomas and brain cancers.

So it appears you have not done your homework and have propagated the negative myths about marijuana.

Lloyd Foote

Editor’s note: The jury is still out on the potential health hazards of marijuana smoke. Before readers accept Mr. Foote’s notion that it’s perfectly healthful, we recommend they do their own research on the topic.

Up with homelessness

Re “Connecting with ‘visitors’ ” (Newslines, by Serena Cervantes, Dec. 3):

I was on the road for two years, “living on the streets,” as some call it. I call it being houseless, not homeless, because really we realized our home is everywhere. And you don’t have to beg for food because everything we need is already provided; we just have to be open to it.

Personally, I think that provoking people with stupid laws like skateboarding on the side walk is going to backfire because the No. 1 enemy to the homeless is the police. Everything is illegal when you’re homeless—sleeping outside, peeing outside, spanging, loitering.

That’s the real problem that needs to be addressed, because I was also homeless by choice, and it was some of the best times of my life. I will never forget what I learned on the road. Don’t pity those who choose not to shoulder the hell of life in this country.

Steven Aquino

What’s so unfair?

Re “A fundamental unfairness” (Editorial, Dec. 3):

Once again, an analyst has compared apples to oranges to achieve a result that does not in fact exist.

In order to find the huge advantage that online retailers are supposed to have over in-state brick-and-mortar retailers, the writer has ignored that fact that online retailers charge for shipping, which is normally more than the tax would have been, often twice as much.

The last time I looked, which was many years ago, Land’s End charged shipping of $3.50 for a $20 shirt. The tax would have been about $1.75 had I bought the same shirt at the local Macy’s. When shipping is factored in, then, the purchaser was in the hole. (Land’s End collects use tax now, because their products are sold in Sears stores as well as online.)

The next time you make such an analysis, please examine all the facts, not just the ones that support your initial proposition.

John Waid

A well of distrust?

Re “The Well is deep” (Newslines, by Christine G.K. LaPado, Nov. 25):

The [Well’s] mission statement may say that the obedience required is to Christ, but Neil [Bennett] and David [Kroessig] sure act like it says “to the authorities of this program.” As for kicking people out, whether they use the exact phrase may be debatable, but they definitely use excess persuasion to get people to leave.

Ehn Ak

If [Neil] Bennett lived by what he crams down the men’s throat, they might have a chance. Does he have to answer to anyone for his actions, or does he think he walks on water? How much money from the government per man does The Well receive a month as the men earn him money?

As stated before, the community has helped a lot. And Neil does try to kick out some men if they don’t do as “HE” says.

Diana Fahl

Editor’s note: The above letters were posted as comments on the online version of the story, as was the following response from Neil Bennett, co-founder of The Well.

We are an open-door ministry. Please come and check us out. You are welcome to interview any of the men or women anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

Neil Bennett


The Sifter item in the Nov. 25 issue (headlined “Black Friday Eve”) incorrectly identified the holiday-spending numbers listed. The numbers shown indicate average spending in dollars per person, not overall consumer spending in millions of dollars, as is indicated. This has been corrected online.

Our apologies for the error.