State law on ecstasy may need clarification but can be...


October 14, 2001

State law on ecstasy may need clarification but can be enforced

The Sun's article "Get-tough law for drug dealers might be flawed" (Oct. 3) needs some important details clarified.

My original bill, which was heavily amended by the House Judiciary Committee, was introduced to include ecstasy in the section of state law that targets major drug distributors. Ecstasy is a Schedule I controlled, dangerous substance.

The committee's amendment moved the language to a different section of the law, associating "750 grams or more" of ecstasy with a particular, increased penalty. However, another section of the law still specifies up to five years in prison and $15,000 in penalties for Schedule I drugs.

And, contrary to The Sun's reporting, the penalties for a conviction for simple possession are up to four years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Since June, I have been working with legislative analysts and the attorney general's office to determine whether an ambiguity exists and if it could hinder prosecution. Given that ecstasy is a Schedule I substance, it is hard to make that case. Nevertheless, in July I requested that a bill be drafted to clarify the language.

In January, when the General Assembly's session starts, my bill will be introduced as emergency legislation.

Should any ecstasy cases come up in the interim, I strongly believe that our judges are capable of understanding and enforcing the legislature's will.

Carol S. Petzold


The writer is deputy majority whip of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Baltimore loses big on parking garage site

Help me with the math here: After buying properties on East Lombard Street for $4.5 million in July, the city agrees to sell them to a private development group for $3.2 million, minus $452,000 for demolition costs to prepare the site for a parking garage ("Sale of downtown site for parking garage OK'd," Oct. 4).

So the city has adroitly turned a $4.5 million investment into $2,748,000 in about 90 days.

At least it can't be accused of flipping.

Chris Scovill

Upper Falls

Fish kills demonstrate need for greater vigilance

Last week's release of 24 million gallons of treated drinking water from the Montebello filtration plant raised the level of Herring Run 6 to 8 inches ("Chlorinated water spill causes fish kill in streams," Oct. 5).

The rapid rise stranded some fish, but the chlorine content poisoned many more.

Biologists from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources counted 341 dead fish including long-ear sunfish, long-nose dace, spotfin shiner, white sucker, pumpkin seed, largemouth bass, carp and dace.

This kill offers dramatic evidence of the diversity of wildlife abounding in our urban streams. It also highlights the need for increased vigilance by the Department of Public Works.

Richard S. Hersey


The writer is executive director of the Herring Run Watershed Association.

Right-to-work laws only weaken unions

In regard to the article "Oklahoma voters approve `right to work' amendment" (Sept. 27), such laws passed by conservative legislatures have nothing to do with workers' rights and everything to do with weakening workers' unions.

In free collective bargaining states such as Maryland, workers still have the right not be a member of a union; however, they pay a small amount to service the contract, from which they benefit as do the true, dues-paying union members.

And why shouldn't they? If we all live in a community where everyone pays dues to our association, don't we all benefit from that community? A union contract should be no different.

Chuck Dobry

Perry Hall

The writer is shop steward for Communications Workers of America Local 2100.

Cal Ripken's a role model; Clinton may not measure up

It was interesting to hear former President Clinton state, regarding Cal Ripken, "He is the kind of man every father would like his son to grow up to be" ("Ripken's end is new beginning," Oct. 8).

I wonder if Chelsea Clinton thinks the same thing regarding her father?

Wayne Spangler


Tom Ridge's record shows no capacity to fight hatred

The Sun's article "Ridge faces domestic challenge as he takes counter-terror post" (Oct. 8) failed to ask at least one important question: What are Tom Ridge's qualifications for this post?

Pennsylvania is one of the national leaders in domestic hate-group activity. Some of these groups even flourished during Mr. Ridge's tenure as governor.

If he was not able to respond to these groups, which are hardly covert, how will he respond to those who are invisible in our midst? Should this not be the responsibility of the FBI?

The Rev. John Dornheim


Our young soldiers are the real heroes

This is not meant to take away from the heroic bravery shown by firefighters, police and others at the recent tragedy. To me, it is unbelievable that a person can look into a fire and walk into it.

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