August 28, 2013 at 7:04 PM
Where’s the science?
Teens are used to adults making statements about marijuana that are not true. This leads them to reject any advice from adults that might be true. [“Guest: What to tell your child about marijuana,” Health & Fitness, Aug. 25.]
The Times should require a guest writer like Dan Labriola to provide a source for his dubious assertions of “facts” about marijuana.
I don’t believe he can provide a single scientific, random, controlled, double-blind study that backs up his assertions. Put this stuff on the Opinion page, where it belongs.
Kurt Johnson, Kirkland
August 27, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Don’t just decriminalize — legalize marijuana
I agree with state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and former state Rep. Toby Nixon ["State should decriminalize marijuana," Opinion, guest column, Aug. 21] that it’s time for Washington state to decriminalize marijuana.
However, I disagree with their method. We do not need any further distractions for our police force in trying to write civil infractions against marijuana users. Why not legalize marijuana outright?
We should treat it the same way we treat alcohol and marijuana’s distant relative, the cigarette. Make it legal and tax it. This way, users don’t have to worry about prosecution or infractions, and the state of Washington can increase its revenue intake.
Hempfest drew tens of thousands of people to its annual show, so we can assume the demand is there.
The idea that marijuana use leads to users upgrading to more potent substances like cocaine and LSD are unfounded. It is time to stop the insanity. Senate Bill 5615 is a good start, but let us take it a step further.
Legalize marijuana and let the state reap its profits.
– Thaddeus Powell, Renton
Bigger problems than marijuana use confront state
With state budgets dwindling, it is time to rethink our criminal-justice system regarding marijuana. Clearly, no matter what criminal campaign is waged, it is not wiping out the recreational use of marijuana.
With state prisons busting at the seams all over the country, I would call this the low-hanging fruit and would be an easy way for us to alleviate at least some of the overcrowding that exists.
We have bigger problems in the realm of law enforcement. I am hopeful to see regulation of this drug in the future as a potential source of taxes to help fund some of the programs that are getting cut because of budget shortfalls.
The point is, we have realistic options here, and we cannot ignore this topic any longer.
– Corrie Fowble, Seattle
Why stop with legalizing marijuana?
In their guest column state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and former state Rep. Toby Nixon present their argument for support for Senate Bill 5615 to decriminalize marijuana use, citing cost savings to the criminal-justice system and new revenues for Washington state.
The article allows us to infer that they tacitly concur with the rest of us about the harmful effects of this illicit drug, enough to search for alternatives to prevent its use.
While the column doesn’t expressly accept or deny that clinical studies warn of the drug’s long list of long-term harmful effects, with their proposed reclassifying of the adult possession of marijuana, Kohl-Welles and Nixon contend the bill will slow down use.
Good to look for new preventive remedies; not good to decriminalize.
Mexico, for example, has gone even further, decriminalizing five grams of marijuana, 50 mg of heroin, 0.5 ram of cocaine and 40 mg of meth — also to reduce court costs in prosecuting users. Why aren’t Kohl-Welles and Nixon expanding Senate Bill 5615 to also decriminalize heroin, cocaine and meth for responsible personal use? The goals are the same.
Here are some related public policies to ponder:
- Let’s also dumb down the public education curriculum and tests so fewer students fail.
- Let’s lower the standards and qualifications for individuals to run for public offices.
- Let’s reduce the number of hours and stipulations required for pilots, so they can fly longer and older.
- Let’s decriminalize prostitution, like Nevada, so taxes will add to state revenues and free the courts.
– Dee Tezelli and Steve Danishek, Seattle
Marijuana has plenty of benefits
Reader Jerry Bredouw must be jesting when he writes that he’s waiting for “someone to address the glaring fact that inhaling pot will probably cause lung cancer” ["Won't smoking pot give you cancer, too?" Northwest Voices, letter to the editor, Aug. 23]. If indeed the invitation stands that anyone may help Bredouw comprehend why this ” fact” hasn’t been addressed, I will gladly point out the following:
First, no lung-cancer deaths have ever been linked to marijuana. None.
Second, it has been reported that pot kills cancer cells. Third, people who say “seems odd” aren’t really interested in the well being of their accused. It’s hoping pot smokers get cancer like cigarette smokers do.
Fourth, sure, smoke is bad for you. That’s why some marijuana users prefer to vaporize their product, therefore ingesting no smoke whatsoever. Others cook their stash into food and eat it. Bredouw sounds like a bitter nicotine addict. He’s not a doctor, that’s for sure.
And finally, there’s not enough serious medical research on pot to verify the carcinogen hypothesis. Republicans tend to crash the funding. Seems odd indeed.
– Keith Curtis, Ballard
August 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM
In Washington, take advantage of high-quality marijuana
In response to the guest column “State should decriminalize marijuana” [Opinion, Aug. 21], don’t mess around, legalization is the only answer for Washington state.
For some reason, we grow the strongest, highest-quality herb in the world. Ask the Drug Enforcement Agency or experienced consumers if you don’t believe me. California talks about a $50 per ounce tax on legalization. That is the error. A $200 per ounce tax is more like it.
That would still keep prices at current street level, plus create profit for growers and retailers. That would result in a $300 to $400 per ounce sticker price on the world’s highest-quality herb. To lowball a guess, that would be an easy $50 million each month to our state’s tax base, and add to that the jobs that would be created. Our tourism would boom to a world-class level.
Experienced herb smokers are stunned at the political attack on herb. The reason is the stupidity of it all. Herb is being treated the same as heroin or crack or meth. That is like saying aspirin is the same thing as morphine. Just because it is an illegal drug does not mean the effect is the same. In comparison, having three martinis is so debilitating that one wonders why that is not in the same category as a crack high.
Marijuana is not a gateway drug. Spinning around and getting dizzy as a kid is a gateway drug. It’s illegality is a gateway. Being illegal makes users enter the illegal market, where you can find stolen cars, illegal weapons and more. If legal, no need to go there.
– Douglas Mays, Seattle
Won’t smoking pot give you cancer, too?
I’m still waiting for someone to address the glaring fact that inhaling pot will probably cause lung cancer.
Seems odd that our plucky populace, after rising up and crippling the iron grip of the tobacco crowd, has apparently forgotten that sucking smoke into your lungs can kill you.
– Jerry Bredouw, Edmonds
Not just stoners enjoy the herb
Kudos to Vivian McPeak, current director, and the other organizers of Hempfest for encouraging diversity and bringing more representation to the event. It is time our politicians see firsthand who marijuana legalization supporters include.
Pot is used by ailing cancer patients, senior citizens and others looking for help with pain and illness. It is smoked recreationally by thousands — business people, career types, athletes, politicians and just about everyone. And yes, stoners, too, but they are not the majority, just the most visible.
Hempfest should do more to encourage those people outside the cliché dope culture to be seen supporting legalization. Maybe then policy will change, and we can move forward to address the real issues facing our country — health-care reform, the economy and two ongoing wars.
I am very impressed with Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata and Representative Roger Goodman for their leadership in speaking at the event. It is about time our government started supporting the will of the people.
– Tom Baker, Woodinville
July 26, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Legalize marijuana, tax it and move on
With so many truly important issues facing our country today –two wars, a global economic crisis, nuclear weapons in Korea, bank closings, corporate scandals, health-care costs, budget deficits, etc. — it astounds me that our government and the media continue to rehash minor issues.
This time it is marijuana legalization. Hopefully the rhetoric is a prelude to correcting a mistake made many years ago. Nothing new has been added to this discussion in decades, other than “now we need the tax money.”
Opponents to legalization say more study is needed to determine the health risks. I say look around you. The second-largest drug study ever was conducted in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s, second only to that done on cigarettes.
We all know the answer. Just look at the Netherlands, Switzerland, Oakland and Northern California for examples. The only troubling connection I have found is between marijuana policy and politicians looking for a campaign issue.
I challenge all our government officials to become leaders. Stand up — there can’t be any of you left that haven’t inhaled, and you are all successful. Be brave — even President Obama admits the truth.
Regain your credibility, and correct the mistake. Legalize marijuana, tax it and let’s move on.
– Tom Baker, Woodinville
Money is no reason to legalize marijuana
It appears that some who decried the supposed lack of “science-based” policy from the Bush administration seem to have forgotten their own verbiage.
California’s marijuana industry is thriving ["California finds pot is a huge cash cow," page one, July 19], and it now appears pot can cure allergies, insomnia, throat inflammation and sugar cravings.
It’s a miracle drug! Does it cure impotence too? Oops. Not from what those pesky scientists have said.
Where’s the science to support any of this? If marijuana cures allergies, that would be front-page news. Insomnia? Get real. The truth is that people use the science argument only when the views of one party disagree with their own. In the words of one man who gets his weed with a doctor’s note, this whole policy is a joke that just legalizes what people already wanted. Medicine has nothing to do with it.
And never mind the environmental degradation, the used-up farmland and wasted water, the thriving and murderous criminal cartels that won’t pay taxes anyway and the populations sedated into apathy and complacence.
The reason for all this? It’s also green, but you can’t smoke it, though you can burn through it pretty fast.
Governments are pressured to sign on to this for one reason: money. And when money is the primary motivation for making wholesale changes to criminal and social policies, I think that ought to be a major cause for concern.
– Dan Magill, Seattle
July 26, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Medicare is a harbinger of national health-care failure
From personal experience, I reject the idea of government-paid health care for all.
Many people don’t recall the establishment of Medicare and how it chased private insurance for seniors out of the market. Employers and insurance companies saw no reason to deal with the expense and administration of their plans in competition with the government plan. Obviously, this will happen again if the government starts covering all citizens. You will not be able to keep your current insurance whether or not you are happy with it.
Regarding the operation of Medicare, it is well known that its payments are seriously below market rates. Many doctors will not accept Medicare patients. I can name offhand four people who were notified by their large clinics that their Medicare coverage would no longer be accepted; just think how many more patients received that notification. I must travel to a neighboring city for a particular medical specialty because none of the local practitioners will accept Medicare.
Clearly, the government administration of Medicare is a failure. Why should we expand the program for an even greater failure — and a terribly expensive failure at that?
– Bernice Oberson, Kirkland
Congress, take your time on health-care reform
Why would any rational senator or representative vote, yea or nay, on a bill that is more than 1,000 pages long, that would not take effect for four years and that they had not read? Why would President Obama tell us such a bill was absolutely essential to pass within two weeks?
– Al and Linda King, Olympia
Health care ‘too expensive’ because it’s for the American people
Politicians are convincing the American people that health-care reform is too expensive, and the $1 trillion cost over 10 years must be paid upfront. Why can’t we spend $100 billion annually to improve the lives of ordinary citizens? Why is this program too expensive, when compared with some of the other recently approved programs that have racked up similar bills? Why? Because the program will benefit the lives of real Americans.
In the last seven years, our representatives had no trouble approving our hard-earned tax dollars to be spent on a pre-emptive war in Iraq, which has cost us nearly a trillion dollars in six years.
In September 2008, Congress passed TARP, giving nearly a trillion dollars of our money to Wall Street. When the Medicare Drug plan was passed, the Congressional Budget Office also predicted the cost to taxpayers at nearly a $1 trillion over 10 years, benefiting pharmaceuticals.
The money isn’t going to the military-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical complex or the wealthy CEOs on Wall Street, who give our politicians millions in campaign dollars. The money is going to you and me. Suddenly this program is too expensive and can’t be rushed. What nonsense!
– Glenda Tecklenburg, Mill Creek
What’s with the delay on health-care reform?
I cannot believe Congress’ inability to move on health care. Has our political system become so saturated with special-interest money that we have become unable to move legislation as critically important as health-care reform?
There has never been a time when the power in the House and Senate is actually primed for meaningful reform. What in the world is keeping lawmakers from moving toward universal coverage that includes at a minimum a public option that leads to modification of the insurance industry’s stranglehold on health care?
How much more profit must be gained from sickness management and nonmanagement of cherry-picked populations? How much longer are we going to pay 10 times the amount for primary care in the emergency rooms for citizens that do not have coverage.
The whole notion of a single-payer system was taken from the table before it made it the first round of discussion. How much longer will the population be misled by the opponents of universal coverage trashing the Canadian system.
Canadians would revolt in masses if there was even the slightest attempt to modify their health-care system. If ever there was a time for U.S. citizens to rise to the occasion, this is it.
– Michael Johnson, Shoreline
In time of need, money shouldn’t get in the way
As a dual citizen, I have had the privilege to see both the American and Canadian systems at work.
My mother, an American, was diagnosed with a very aggressive brain tumor. My mother, never being a quitter, chose to follow the doctor’s recommendation of treating the tumor even though she was given a less than 10 percent chance of survival. Though she had a premium heath-care plan, she had to fight to get her chemotherapy paid for.
In the end, the medical intervention extended her life by only a few tortuous months. No one profited except those providing the treatment. In the midst of his grief, my father worried about whether her insurance would cover all of the cost of her time in the hospital. In the end, the bills were paid but not without major financial uncertainty and anxiety.
In contrast, two years later, my four-month-old son was diagnosed in Canada with a cancer-like disease. We saw our pediatrician at 11:30 a.m. and an oncologist at 3 p.m. the same day, and he was admitted to begin tests two days later.
The care was entirely free and the only scars we bear are on my son’s neck. I believe the care was some of the best in the world, and I trusted the doctors’ recommendations. There was no discussion of money or motivation. We were able to focus on the health of our child.
In times of crisis, families need to focus on their loved one, not on who will pay the bills.
– Wendy Ilott, Edmonton, Alberta
Canadian health care for all U.S. citizens
I heard Mary Scott of Mount Vernon interviewed on Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio. She wrote The Vancouver Sun asking Canadians to write The Seattle Times with the truth about our health care.
I am a family physician in Ontario, and I hear complaints about waiting. But I also hear great compliments about how the system came through in spades when there was a major need in one’s health. Nothing is perfect, but I never, ever hear of a patient loosing their home in Canada because they had health bills to pay.
I am amazed there is so much erroneous denigrating of the Canadian health-care system by some people in the U.S.A. We are such close neighbors — clearly the truth should be more evident that it can be done much better than your current system. You do have wonderful facilities and great practitioners, but you also have millions with no insurance coverage.
I hope your voters choose a Canadian-like health-care system for the benefit of your whole population.
– Gordon E. Riddle, M.D., Ottawa, Ontario
From an insider, private insurance is broken
I have experienced health care as a consumer, as a developer for an insurance company, as the director of information technology for a mental-health agency and as the bookkeeper for a provider. I’ll admit I like and respect my doctor, but that is the only place where I have experienced our system as satisfactory.
As the bookkeeper for a provider recognized by about 20 insurance companies, my personal frustration has hit new highs. Our health-care system is too disorganized. No two companies have the same forms. Some have different billing systems for different services. Some use online systems, others require faxing, others require communication through the Post Office. Some require we return a form they send us and some use industry-standard forms. Some use both depending on the service.
When we are paid, it can be based on what we billed, but mostly it isn’t — it’s based on rules unique to each company. Yes, they have shared the rules, but the rules change with each insurance company and even within a single company based on service provided.
The current system is in the process of self-destructing.
– Steve Paul, Seattle
Prescription drugs should be part of reform
The $40 million the pharmaceutical industry spent lobbying Congress from April 1 through June 30 probably explains why lowering drug costs is not a major part of the health-care-reform debate. But it should be.
Pharmaceutical companies advertise their most expensive drugs in direct marketing to consumers and encourage Americans to ask their doctors to prescribe them. As a result, patients arrive at doctor’s offices, demanding this or that medicine they’ve just learned about through advertising. The beneficiary is the drug industry, which earns huge profits and even gets a tax write-off for advertising costs.
Among industrialized countries, only the U.S. and New Zealand allow pharmaceutical companies to market directly to consumers. It was not allowed when I was younger, and I believe it should be outlawed now.
– Vicki King, Seattle
Healthy health-care system will bring healthy economy
President Obama’s speech ["Obama not backing down on health care," page one, July 23] shows a president determined to make a difference for this country and its citizens, despite the large political risks involved.
Obama understands and is trying to explain that the status quo is not a viable option. To those who talk about choice, and the prospect of losing it, need I remind you that for most of us our health-care choices are largely proscribed by our health-insurance policies.
But the big-picture issue, alluded to by the president, are the enormous economic implications of the current system. Spiraling health-care costs are an uncompetitive fact of life for doing business in the United States that give pause to multinational companies with options overseas. Our per-hour labor costs are often lower than many European countries and Japan, but when health-care costs are figured into the equation, the U.S. becomes an unattractive location for a new venture.
Thus, our long-term economic health, not just our physical health, will be largely determined by whether we act now to reform our health-care system and reign in costs.
– Jonathan Ryweck, Port Townsend
April 18, 2009 at 6:00 AM
A cure for budget deficit?
Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. agrees with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a collection of retired FBI, DEA, cops, prosecutors and judges, that America should abandon the ineffective war on drugs and consider legalization, regulation and taxation instead ["Let's begin the discussion about legalizing drugs," seattletimes.com, Opinion, April 2).
Faced with a billion-dollar budget deficit, Washington could benefit financially from LEAP's proposal. Illegal drugs constitute substantial cash-crop opportunities for cash-starved state budgets.
In December 2006, Seattle Times reporter Emily Heffter wrote that Virginia-based researcher Jon Gettman found pot rivals apples as the state's biggest cash crop ["Analyst finds that pot rivals apples as state's biggest cash crop," seattletimes.com, Dec. 23, 2006].
According to Gettman, marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the United States, bringing in more annually than corn and wheat combined. And Washington is the nation’s fifth-largest producer, behind California, Tennessee, Kentucky and Hawaii.
Rather than forfeiting millions in potential tax revenue every year by criminalizing marijuana, Washington should consider legalization since marijuana is, as Gettman said, a “pervasive and ineradicable part of the national economy.”
– Ralph W. Conner, Chicago
April 7, 2009 at 5:00 PM
Won’t prevent crime, health issues
I again have to endure another article about the logic behind the legalization of mind-altering drugs ["Finally, some honesty about drugs," Opinion, David Sirota column, April 6].
As in most articles, the logic is flawed. Yes, Mexico is under siege by cartels that are making money on the United States’ failures in society. Yes, we are spending millions of dollars to fight illegal drugs in the United States.
However, whether we legalize marijuana or not, these facts will not change. There are many legal drugs in today’s medicine cabinets that are being used illegally for the monetary benefit of their makers. Every day, our courts spend millions of dollars prosecuting the results of the misuse of legal drugs.
Legalizing marijuana would be no different from legal alcohol or tobacco. The problem is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Legal as smoking and drinking alcohol are, it doesn’t prevent negative health issues and criminal activity. Adding another social drug to the legal usage column would just add to the government’s cost.
I have to admit I have no solution other than educating the public. Maybe Mexico would be more diligent in solving their own problems if we discontinue financing a corrupt government.
– Jim Morris, Renton
April 6, 2009 at 5:00 PM
Prohibition not effective
Silly me, but reading “Kerlikowske describes how he’d approach drub-czar job” [NW Thursday, April 2], I couldn’t recall the word “czar” in our Constitution. I thought that was a word for an autocratic Russian ruler. Have we strayed that far from our founding fathers’ idea of limited government?
Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske mouthed the tired cliches of drug prohibition, a complete failure since it began in 1913. He’s going to cut demand, reduce supply, etc. This hasn’t worked for 96 years, so one wonders why he thinks it’s going to work now.
Thomas Jefferson and the other geniuses who invented this country never suggested that any drugs should be illegal. To the contrary, they said that everyone should have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” unless they were doing something “injurious to others.” Then, and only then, did the government have the right to intervene.
So we’ve gone from geniuses to bureaucrats masquerading as czars. Shame on us.
– Brian Templeton, Des Moines
Criminalizing marijuana sends dangerous message
A sane argument to perpetuate prohibiting, persecuting and exterminating cannabis (marijuana) and hemp doesn’t exist. Another reason to end cannabis prohibition that doesn’t get mentioned ["Let's begin the discussion about legalizing drugs," seattletimes.com, Opinion, April 1] is because it will lower deadly hard-drug-addiction rates.
DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) will have to stop brainwashing youth into believing lies, half-truths and propaganda concerning cannabis, which creates grave future problems.
How many citizens try cannabis and realize it’s not nearly as harmful as taught in DARE-type government environments? Then they think other substances must not be so bad either, only to become addicted to deadly drugs. The old lessons make cannabis out to be among the worst substances in the world, even though it’s less addictive than coffee and has never killed a single person.
The federal government even classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance along with heroin, while methamphetamine and cocaine are only Schedule II substances. For the health and welfare of America’s children and adults, that dangerous and irresponsible message absolutely must change.
Further, regulated cannabis sales would make it so citizens who purchase it would not come into contact with people who often also sell hard drugs, which would lower hard-drug-addiction rates.
– Stan White, Dillon, Colo.
March 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM
American weapons signaling an American problem
Congress must act to slow the flow of weapons in Mexico.
Horrific drug-cartel violence recently prompted the Pentagon’s Joint Forces Command to rank Mexico alongside Pakistan as a nation at risk of rapid and sudden collapse. And, it prompted the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to urge American students to avoid spring-break trips to Tijuana and other parts of Baja California.
But the violence in Mexico is not just a problem for Mexico; it’s America’s problem, too.
In Arizona, according to The New York Times, there were an astounding 241 border-related kidnappings or hostage takings in the Phoenix area last year alone. In fact, authorities said this figure was actually understated.
Texas, too, has felt the spillover of Mexico’s violence.
There are at least two other factors making Mexico’s problem our problem. First, it is, after all, America’s insatiable demand for drugs that fuels the $10 billion drug-trafficking business in Mexico.
Second, the tens of thousands of weapons used by Mexican cartels in their unrelenting campaign of intimidation and mayhem — from small-caliber pistols to military-style assault weapons and armor-piercing ammunition — come largely from north of the border.
U.S. and Mexican officials say 90 percent of the cartels’ weapons come from the United States.
This country’s demand for drugs has long been understood. The gun issue has only recently begun to get the widespread attention it deserves.
There are numerous steps the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration need to take to slow the cascade of arms to Mexico and help curb the violence:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she will introduce legislation to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons such as the AK-47 rifle, which has become the Mexican cartels’ weapon of choice. Feinstein needs to act quickly, and Congress should enact it without delay.
ATF has reportedly only 200 agents assigned to monitor the thousands of licensed gun dealers in the country, more than 6,600 of which are along the border. The agency clearly needs more resources, which Congress should provide.
Congress should enact federal legislation requiring, at the very least, sales at gun shows be subject to the same computerized, FBI background checks applied to sales at licensed gun stores.
There are no federal limits on the number of guns that can be legally purchased at one time. In fact, though sales of more than one handgun at a time must be reported to ATF, a single buyer can purchase as many long guns, including military-style semi-automatics, as he or she wants with no report of the sale to the federal government.
This is crazy.
Border inspection of traffic headed into Mexico is Mexico’s responsibility, just as inspection of traffic headed north into the United States is our responsibility.
Drug-cartel violence reportedly killed 6,290 people in Mexico last year. It has taken the lives of more than 1,000 people already in 2009.
Most of the weapons used in those vicious killings came from the United States.
This is our problem, too.
– Robert Wright, Yakima
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