Letters for October 10, 2002

Doesn’t add up
Re “Ignored, Rejected or Buried” [RN&R, Sept. 26]:

The common person has to take a lot of the rhetoric at face value, but when you start spouting numbers, it’s easy to check your integrity.

From [Project Censored’s story No.] 8: “From 1993 to 2000, ConAgra’s profits grew 189 percent from $143 million to $413 million, and [Archer Daniels] Midland’s profits nearly tripled from $110 million to $301 million.”

Since I follow stocks, I knew ADM as a lousy investment and a mediocre performer through the nineties, but just to be sure, I went to Standard & Poor’s and found net income for ADM in fiscal year 1993 at $535 million, and $301 million in 2000, about a 35 percent decline. The stock price during the period pretty much vegetated. A better measure to back up the “source’s” contention that ADM made a windfall from NAFTA would be gross revenues from year to year in the period. They, too, were essentially flat. ConAgra did a little bit better, but not much. Net income in 1993 was $392 million. In 2000, it was $413 million. Year to year earnings growth during the period pretty much mirrored the economy, and the stock generally doubled, but then so did most everything else.

Your “source” is a better liar than a WorldCom accountant, so why should I believe the rest of your article?

Don Bachman

What about war?
Re “Ignored, Rejected or Buried” [RN&R, Sept. 26]:

I enjoy reading the News & Review each week. I was disappointed, however, not to see any mention of the impending Iraqi war at such a critical time. We must call our representatives and oppose the impending Iraqi war. Invasion would guarantee the loss of American lives, unleash additional horror on Iraqi citizens, destabilize the already inflamed region and increase hatred towards our country.

Our administration is turning our country into a rogue nation by ignoring world opposition and bullying the United Nations. We will not only increase hatred of the United States in the Middle East, but alienate most of our close allies at a time when we are economically weak.

A Ugandan proverb says, “A bad thing must be advertised; a good thing sells itself.” With all of the devastation and political turmoil certain to follow an invasion, is it any wonder Bush is finding it such a hard sell?

Focusing on the threat, however minimal, posed by Hussein and framing the attack in the context of the war on terrorism is deceitful. Bush and his oil industry cronies should admit that they are after Iraq’s oil and want to replace Hussein with a regime more in line with their scheme—a la Afghanistan.

For true peace and security, we should withdraw our troops from the region, end our lopsided support for Israel and focus on reducing our dependence on Middle East oil by seeking renewable energy resources. The Iraqis have suffered enough, as we see from the RN&R’s story about U.S. destruction of their water supply.

Give peace a chance.

Aaron M. Felty

Debunking pot myths
Re “Got Pot?” [RN&R, Oct. 3, 2002]:

Mr. Burghart lists seven reasons he thinks the war on marijuana should continue. I believe it is in our best interest as a nation to end this harassment of our own citizens. Here are seven responses to assertions made in the story:

1. No one, not the American Medical Association or the courts, has scientifically proven pot has medicinal benefits.

The debate over its medical value is too highly politicized to go into here. However, just because something does not have a proven medical usage is no reason to arrest people who use it. Tobacco has no medicinal benefit, yet it is legal.

2. Marijuana’s addictive.

We could also argue whether it is or not, but so what? Tobacco is addictive, yet legal.

3. It’s a gateway drug.

The old logical fallacy “if before then because.” As George Carlin said, “Mother’s milk leads to EVERYTHING.” Why are only the illegal drugs considered gateways? Sugar, beer, and caffeine are never cited as gateways, even though most people are exposed to them before they get to illegal drugs.

4. Marijuana use and possession would still be illegal on the federal level.

True. But no reason to make state officials complicit in the insanity.

5. Three ounces is not a small amount of marijuana.

There is no legal limit on the amount of alcohol or tobacco you can own, so why should there be any limit on the amount of cannabis you can own? Well, to ensure people aren’t selling it, of course. But is there really still a thriving black market for alcohol, or did the 21st Amendment put an end to that?

6. People aren’t being arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana anyway.

However, the police still have the power to arrest someone for it. People who smoke marijuana have a negative attitude towards people in the law enforcement profession, because they see them as the enemy. If the war on marijuana was over, the police would have a lot easier time interacting with the public.

7. It would still cost law enforcement a lot of money for prosecution of such things as driving under the influence, public use, selling or giving to children and others.

We ended alcohol prohibition, and the police still have to deal with people driving under the influence, public drunkenness, minors in possession, etc. But they no longer have to deal with catching bootleggers and investigating gangland wars over liquor turf.

Kendall M. Cox
Shorewood, Ill.

via e-mail

Editor’s note: You’re high, Kendall. D. Brian Burghart reported on seven reasons that law enforcement thinks the war on marijuana should continue. He never said he agreed with these reasons; in fact, like you, he debunked several of them.

Legalization saves kids
Re “Got Pot?” [RN&R, Oct. 3, 2002]:

Question 9: Finally people are going to get a chance to do something positive about marijuana prohibition. We have been fighting this “scourge of our youth” for more than 65 yearsl, and it’s easier for a kid in high school (or even middle school) to get marijuana than it is for him to get a six-pack of beer. This was true when I was in high school 30 years ago, and it is still true today. If you really want to keep kids away from marijuana, it must be legalized and regulated.

Vote YES on Question 9.

Duncan Winn

Seeing through smoke
Re “Got Pot?” [RN&R, Oct. 3, 2002]:

I feel D. Brian Burghart’s pain, there are some of us who dislike some of the salesman tactics utilized by this particular drug policy reform group. In our minds, given the fact that we are opposed by people with billions of dollars to waste on propaganda, we must retain the moral high ground and always exhibit the highest of integrity.

I am a druggie legalizer; I call myself a drug policy scholar. I would be willing to answer any and all of this man’s questions. I can tell him some medical users need three ounces on hand. For example, one man who just one a Health Canada exemption for his marijuana usage smokes 12 joints per day to control his adrenal cancer symptoms. The truth is that every major drug policy study done in the past 50 years recommends moving towards decriminalization, if not outright legalization of marijuana. Let me answer some of his points:

“When I regularly smoked pot two decades ago, I quit for a reason: It was making me stupid—affecting my short-term memory, blurring my attention to detail.”

It sounds as if he was a chronic user. Far better to show moderation in all things. Keep it to below three usages per day, preferably no wake-n-baking nor just before sleep. I use marijuana occasionally, and you can judge my cognitive abilities for yourselves. I’ll debate any man in opposition to this policy proposal. Take a gander at this:

http://www.marijuananews.com/ long_term_marijuana_smoking_does.htm

“These days, I certainly don’t want my children around the stuff.”

It is already around them, kids report it is easier to buy marijuana than beer.

“If a cancer patient needs to get high in order to feel better, he or she should be able to—Nevada voters say so.”

I do not think Jesus would want us to persecute the sick and dying for consuming a plant either.

“I’ve got other fears.”

Don’t we all, friend, except it is crack and meth that frighten me.

“I also imagine that pot smokers will move to the state in droves if pot becomes legal.”

I highly doubt that, no one is flocking to Ohio for its laxest-in-the-nation marijuana possession laws. Do people flock there for your prostitutes, or your gambling or do they just break the law at home? Unless there is a good chance of being caught, they will stay home.

“Pot-intoxicated drivers will undoubtedly increase.”

I am not too sure of that, but if it were so, I am not too concerned. The FDA states I can drive safely under the influence of Marinol once I am behaviorily accustomed to its affects. Believe it or not, plenty of people have been doing this for a long time, including the recently deceased first patient to receive marijuana from the government. He used to drive home from work in Florida (I think that was his home state) smoking a joint. No problems. Forbid it? I will not fight for this political cause, marijuana smokers can be inconvenienced, but I will oppose any significant shift of our limited resources to bust them.

“My children will come into contact with more children who have ‘responsible’ parents (who possess small amounts of marijuana in the privacy of their own homes) and who have more access to dope.”

Just teach your children the truth, as the Dutch do. Certain things are for adults, and you should wait. If you refuse, better we allow the use after age 16 than to watch you enter the black market trade.

“I don’t know. I look for answers, but I can’t see through the smoke of rhetoric.”

You are not looking in the right places. A recently released drug policy report from the Canadian Senate is online at www.parl.gc.ca. [For the full link, visit the RN&R Web site.]

Matthew Hulett
Short Hills, N.J.

via e-mail

Pot needs national debate
Re “Got Pot?” [RN&R, Oct. 3, 2002]:

Even if Question 9 is passed in November in Nevada, it has to be passed again in 2004 in order to go into law. If Question 9 were to pass, it could force the marijuana issue into a national debate. FBI statistics show that in 1999 and 2000, 41 percent of all drug arrests in America were for simple possession of marijuana. Clearly we need a national debate on how we handle marijuana.Jason Marrs Ossining, N.Y. via e-mail

New signs for ‘bigots’
I have a suggestion regarding the “Protect Marriage” signs popping up in yards around town. Although an expensive change, I believe printing new signs to read “Preserve Bigotry” is more reflective of their cause. Marriage is not under siege, lifestyle choices are. We do not choose who we love. If two people are willing to commit to each other for life, why shouldn’t they benefit from that commitment on all levels, including financial and legal status? If this proposition passes, it simply reflects fearful narrow mindedness, an unfortunate trait often associated with Nevadans. Let us not forget the wisdom of our forefathers … separation between church and state.

Danielle Anne Campbell
via e-mail