Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jun 2000
Source: Mountain Xpress (NC)
Copyright: 2000 Mountain Xpress
Contact:  PO Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802
Fax: (828) 251 1311
Website: http://www.mountainx.com/
Author: J. Schultz, Clarence Ervin Young, Alan Mason, Matthew Katz,
Dana Beal, David Malcolm Currie, Kevin Nelson
Related: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n696/a05.html
Note: Subject title by MAP editor.

LEGALIZING POT WOULD BENEFIT EVERY AMERICAN

[Editor's note: A letter printed in our May 24 issue by Joseph Howard
- - "Skip the pot, get a life" - apparently created a firestorm of
controversy across America, after being posted on Web sites such as
the one run by the Media Awareness Project. Because of the number of
responses, some of the letters below are appearing only online.]

LEGALIZING POT WOULD BENEFIT EVERY AMERICAN

Judging by the way cigarette smokers have responded to years of
countless, incessant warnings that cigarettes may cause complications
during pregnancy, may be harmful to your health, are more addictive
than crack, and will kill you, I don't think Mr. Howard's revelation
that pot may adversely affect testosterone and serotonin levels is
going to alarm any pot smokers. If they are not afraid of lung cancer
or the possible loss of brain activity, an abnormal serotonin level
certainly won't scare them. Besides, even the most harmful reported
affects of marijuana are no worse than the known adverse affects of
alcohol and tobacco. If our government can rationalize the sale and
taxation of these drugs, why not tax marijuana, too?

As for his second argument - that marijuana buyers contribute to
cartels and criminals - this is one of the best arguments for
legalization, not against legalization. The fact that drug dealers are
getting rich off of their drug habit is of no concern to the potheads.
Drug users don't care where the drug comes from, only that it comes.
If pot were legalized and taxed, however, the money would go to the
American farmers, companies and government - not cartels and
criminals. Until then, the billions of dollars drug users spend on pot
each year goes right to drug dealers. This is of tremendous benefit to
the drug dealers, but does nothing for you and I, the taxpayers.

The public needs to realize that the legalization of pot doesn't just
benefit the potheads; it also benefits every other American citizen.
This is a plant for which pot smokers are willing to pay up to $100
for a quarter ounce, yet it is easier (read: cheaper) to grow than
tobacco. Imagine marijuana cigarettes rolled and packaged just like
tobacco cigarettes, 20 in a pack. Twenty cigarette-sized joints of
high quality pot would easily sell for $100, and $99 of that would go
to the government in the form of a sin tax. This would generate
billions of dollars in additional revenue for our local, state and
federal governments each year - paid for by the potheads. The result?
You name it: well-funded public schools, improved infrastructure,
health care for everyone, zero national debt and lower taxes. If you
don't smoke pot, all of this costs you nothing. If you do smoke pot,
you're spending as much now as before, but the money you spend
benefits the farmers, companies and taxpayers - not the criminals.
Beginning to see the picture?

I agree with Mr. Howard that the legalization of marijuana for the
sake of smoking marijuana is trivial. The legalization of marijuana to
decrease government spending while simultaneously increasing
government revenue, however, is anything but trivial. This is money
that could be used to improve every conceivable government program and
service. It could change everything. It could benefit everyone.

I say let the hippies have their pot, and let them pay for our free
ride. Support the Community of Compassion. Support NORML. Write a
letter. Do something. The sooner this ridiculous prohibition ends, the
sooner things will improve for everyone.

J. Schultz
Asheville

- -----------

LEGALIZING DRUGS WOULD COLLAPSE, NOT STRENGTHEN, INTERNATIONAL DRUG
CARTELS

This is a response to Joseph Howard's following quote: "Additionally,
if you buy marijuana, there is an excellent chance that you are
supporting international drug cartels, composed of some of the most
homicidal and psychopathic human beings in the Western Hemisphere."
This is one of the primary reasons for legalizing drugs. If drugs were
legalized, the international drug cartels would collapse. They depend
upon the high prices for drugs created by their illegality, with
resulting scarcity. If drugs were produced by legal farmers, chemists,
etc., we would also benefit financially in three ways: First, legal
producers would make a profit. Second, we would get sales tax
[revenues] off the stuff. Third, we could reduce taxes by a sizable
amount in the ending of the horribly expensive war on drugs.

I agree with Mr. Howard that it would be best if people didn't do pot,
and I will go further that they not use prostitutes, drink alcohol,
etc. We cannot prohibit every activity known to man. A man has the
right to be stupid. It is not for me or Mr. Howard to tell them how to
live their lives, as long as they harm no one other than themselves.
This is basic Libertarian thought, and that of the founders of our
country.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a drug user. Read more at my Web site:
http://members.aol.com/ncsenateseat28.

Clarence Ervin Young Libertarian candidate for the 28th District
North Carolina Senate

- -----------

"SKIP THE POT" LETTER DEFIES LOGIC

[Joseph] Howard's letter contains several errors in logic, the most
serious of which is the implication that marijuana legalization would
somehow benefit international drug cartels. It is the illegal status
of marijuana and other drugs that benefit the cartels by making their
sale so obscenely profitable, and legalization - accompanied by true
government regulation, like we have for tobacco and alcohol - that
would put the drug cartels out of business.

As for his remark that people who oppose marijuana prohibition sound
like they are "struggling through a stint in the old Soviet Gulag,"
perhaps he could explain how handing out sentences of 20-to-life for
growing a plant for one's own personal or medical use fits our
American system of fair and appropriate punishment.

Many things we do in life are not good for us. Illegal marijuana is
arguably less harmful than legal tobacco or alcohol - or many
prescription drugs, for that matter. The founders of our country said
that the pursuit of happiness was a right, but were wise enough not to
prescribe how we might pursue that happiness. It's time we regained a
little of that wisdom.

Alan Mason
Aguanga, Calif.

- -----------

TAKE THE RAP, JOE

Joseph Howard writes that, although he used to smoke pot, he
eventually saw the detrimental effects and decided to quit. He goes on
to explain his reasoning on why marijuana prohibition should continue.
That's all well and good; everyone's entitled to an opinion. But Joe
should do the right thing. He did the crime, now do the time. Joe, if
you really believe millions more Americans need to be imprisoned -
including some of my friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, etc. -
please show us that you are not a total hypocrite by turning yourself
in and insisting on a long sentence. You are, after all, an unpunished
criminal - maybe even a felon (did you ever sell a few doobies to a
pal?). And, while you're there, maybe you can minister to the other
marijuana criminals you meet. There's hundreds of thousands of them in
prison already, and they need your guidance.

Matthew Katz
New Haven, Conn.

- -----------

MELLOW OUT WITH MELATONIN

Adverse effects of cannabis can be largely eliminated via careful use
of the common supplement melatonin. The symptoms of fogginess and
memory loss Joseph Howard blamed on pot [letters, May 24, "Skip the
pot, get a life"] are even more evident with the legal substance
ethanol. We call it a hangover, and sublingual melatonin - twice a
night - knocks that out, too. Ditto the crash of speed, "E", and the
toxicity of over-caffeination, which we've all suffered from. Almost
all psychoactive substances - legal and illegal - strip the system of
melatonin, producing a nation of irritable, nasty-tempered insomniacs.

Melatonin replaces the dream sleep lost through marijuana, alcohol and
other "party drugs," and - as researchers are now finding out - REM
sleep is vital to consolidation of long-term memory, reduction of
cravings and proper mood. One in 20 people has to discontinue use,
however, because the dreams are too vivid.

Wouldn't a medical approach of treating the problem with supplements
and vitamins, instead of prisons, save a lot of money? Or am I missing
something here?

Joe should mellow out.

Dana Beal
Cures Not Wars
New York City

- -----------

THE MIRACLES OF MARIJUANA

This [letter] is in response to an article I found posted [online] in
the Media Awareness Project, called "Skip the pot, get a life" by
Joseph Howard [letters, May 24].

First of all, I want to thank Mr. Howard for expressing his feelings
about the subject. This is a free country and people can say whatever
they want about anything, but then I can respond to it in kind  which
is what makes our First Amendment freedom so wonderful!

Mr. Howard states that he feels people like me, who support "cannabis
liberation," are "whiners." Well, I have tried to live without
cannabis, but life was completely unbearable for me. I am now an
extremely grateful member of the OMMA program (Oregon Medicinal
Marijuana Act, card #1019), and it has given me my life back. I no
longer have to support the "evil" element that prospers because of our
current worse than useless anti-drug (marijuana) laws, and technically
be a "criminal"  while I'm also having to spend most of my available
money on "black-market medicine." Now, I can grow, use and possess a
reasonable amount of medicinal marijuana legally!

As far as the pro/con arguments about marijuana use go, I've read the
research available online, and continue to follow the progress of it
as medical researchers are gradually doing more and more experiments
with marijuana. The research that Mr. Howard alluded to pertaining to
marijuana's influence on seratonin and testosterone is still
inconclusive, but, if anything, it points to reasons for marijuana's
positive potential. I have no doubt that many valuable drugs will be
isolated from the plant in the future, now that medical researchers
are being allowed to experiment with it.

Mr. Howard states that legalizing cannabis is "trivial" and that I'm
"misguided." I honestly don't understand how any rational, intelligent
person could come to that conclusion. Apparently, he had a bad
experience with marijuana himself, and now he is sure it's bad for
everybody, and he doesn't want people like me - who need it - to be
allowed to legally [use it]. I find his attitude both selfish and
self-righteous, but this is America and he is welcome to express his
beliefs, just as I am. I would hope that he will have a more open mind
about the subject in the future - and perhaps even give it another
chance himself - because he sounds like someone who needs to get high
and chill out.

Another aspect of marijuana's medical use is the healing properties it
has for psychiatric illnesses. Besides all the physical ailments it
heals for me, the change in my mental attitude is so radical that any
competent psychiatrist would have to recommend whatever it was I took
that made me feel so much better (if they thought it was a "pill" that
is; many of them would probably be horrified to know that a little
green bud could do so much good!). Hopefully, the healing properties
will soon be researched more, and then we'll all know more about it.
The influence on seratonin that Mr. Howard mentioned is related to its
influence on the brain, and may be responsible for the phenomenon of
"munchies" (appetite stimulation) and "crashing" (sleeping) - and
there are many other chemicals at work, too. I couldn't begin to go
into that stuff here, but all the information is easily available to
Mr. Howard (and all of us) online.

There are so many extraordinary healing properties of cannabis that
it's really miraculous! I would recommend to Mr. Howard that he do a
little more research online, and then he might be a little less
inclined to slam marijuana and its users.

As far as all the many other incredible uses for cannabis besides
medicinal, I would "highly" recommend reading a book called Hemp:
Lifeline to the Future, by Chris Conrad. His eloquent little book is a
classic!

I am personally convinced that cannabis is the most valuable plant on
planet Earth, and mankind would do well to start making use of it
again, as we did for thousands of years previously! I wish Mr. Howard
peace, and hope he finds happiness. He sounds like such an unhappy
person. I'd personally recommend that he get high, but he says that
marijuana doesn't work for him anymore, and that it makes him feel
"stupid" etc. I think that he's fooling himself by blaming the
marijuana for that. I can function just fine on it myself! He sounds
like someone who's been brainwashed, though; if he would give
marijuana another try, it just might work for him again!

Keep On Growing! Peace!!!

David Malcolm Currie No address provided

- -----------

MARIJUANA PROHIBITION A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE FRAUD

It was fascinating to read Joseph Howard's diatribe against all things
marijuana [letters, May 24, "Skip the pot, get a life"]. In typical
fashion, befitting many finger-wagging baby boomers, Mr. Howard smoked
his share in the 1970s - "back when everyone was doing it" - and now
delivers his condescending sermon upon the current crowd of cannabis
freedom fighters.

Mr. Howard asks: Why fight for marijuana legalization when there are
so many other urgent concerns in the world today? For starters,
America currently has the largest prison system in the history of the
world. Twelve million Americans have been arrested [on] marijuana
[charges] since 1970. Would you be better off today, Mr. Howard, if
you had been among these hapless individuals - who may have lost their
jobs, driver's licenses, college loans, or custody of their children?
There are numerous laws that single out and punish marijuana smokers,
uniquely, with no corollary statutes addressing violent crimes - i.e.,
California's "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License".

As for concern that purchasing marijuana supports drug cartels in
foreign countries: Let people grow their own. Gee, why didn't I think
of that? Oh wait, I did. It must be that marijuana clouding my
reasoning abilities again.

Mr. Howard, how would you feel if drug agents kicked in your door in
the middle of the night and blew away your loved one while looking for
pot plants? Whoopsy daisy, wrong address! It happens frequently.

Your chief concern seems to be that marijuana is not a "safe and
harmless drug." My chief concern is that marijuana prohibition is a
counterproductive fraud, start to finish. It was born of racism, it is
sustained by denial, and it brings more harm and violence into the
world than legalizing marijuana ever could. If you ever get to feeling
terribly guilty for your past indiscretions with marijuana, Mr.
Howard, you are always welcome to turn yourself in and serve a few
years in prison, in solidarity with the "law."

Kevin Nelson
Bow, Wash.
- ---