Letters To The Editor


February 19, 2003

Drug policies hurt people with medical needs

Few Americans realize that the United States may soon be one the few Western countries that uses its justice system to punish otherwise law-abiding citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis ("Reefer madness," editorial, Feb. 9).

Evidence of the U.S. government's reefer madness is best exemplified by the kangaroo court trial of Ed Rosenthal, who grew marijuana for medical use. By denying an officer of the city of Oakland the ability to use California's medical marijuana law as a defense, the judge foisted a predetermined guilty verdict onto a misinformed jury.

The federal government's raids on voter-approved medical marijuana providers in California say a lot about Attorney General John Ashcroft's bizarre priorities. The very same attorney general who claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers.

Robert Sharpe


The writer is a program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's crusade against marijuana provides a revealing glimpse of the Bush Administration's values and politics.

As The Sun's editorial notes, marijuana kills few if any users, and has long been used for medicinal purposes. Tobacco use kills about 440,000 Americans every year.

Yet the administration seems determined to jail people for marijuana offenses while doing nothing about the tobacco epidemic.

Mort Paulson

Silver Spring

Marijuana can help critically ill patients

I am a 52-year-old male with cancer (non-Hodgkins lymphoma) in remission who is a participant in a vaccine trial. I am now back to work full time - and pounding nails, learning salsa and paying taxes. I'm looking forward to celebrating more birthdays.

While I received eight months of an experimental high dose of chemotherapy in 2001, I smoked marijuana. The prescription sleeping pills I tried wouldn't take the edge off of the 130 mg of prednisone I was taking. Although I tried several types of medicines, I couldn't get more than 1 1/2 hours of sleep at night.

So I smoked pot. A puff or two at night, and I would get seven hours of rest. And I maintained my appetite.

I know that if I hadn't gotten the rest and had not been able to eat, I'd be dead.

Others who are in the situation I faced should be able to use marijuana without fear of criminal sanction.

Lawrence Silberman


Tax credits revive city neighborhoods

I was distressed to learn about the bill that would abolish the state's historic tax credit program ("Historic preservation tax credits threatened by Ehrlich, legislators," Feb. 12).

Over the past few years, I have watched private investment in the rehabilitation of historic properties in my Baltimore neighborhood of Bolton Hill bring vacant and derelict structures back to life, and new neighbors arrive to inhabit these restored properties.

And the program's cost to the state is minor compared to its long-term benefits. Not only does it help keep endangered properties on the property tax rolls, but these properties can become affordable housing for families who wish to live in the city. And new residents mean increased tax revenues and new customers for local businesses.

The tax credits are helping make Baltimore an attractive place to live and do business. They should not be abolished.

Romaine S. Somerville


Take war to nations that support terror

If the Democrats think that the Republican administration is not protecting us well enough, as Sen. Tom Daschle makes clear, I have a suggestion for them: Declare war, or at least call for a declaration of war ("Md. Democrats criticize Bush over lack of funds for homeland security," Feb. 6).

Against which country? There are still seven countries that our State Department has identified as sponsors of terrorism. None of them has been punished for allowing terrorists to operate there. All of the leaders who were there on Sept. 11, 2001, are still there.

What are we waiting for? Let's take the war they declared against us to the enemy.

Jack Crawford

Aspen Hill

Better border control would deter crime

The tragedy that befell the family of Conrad Johnson and all the other innocent victims of the Beltway snipers is a terrible one that could have been avoided ("Proposed bills would tighten Maryland gun control measures," Feb. 7). However, the answer is not more gun control.

Before the carnage started in the Washington area, career felon John Allen Muhammad was wanted for a parole violation for possessing a firearm. Lee Boyd Malvo is an illegal alien who was detained briefly, and then inexplicably released by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

People are entering our country in droves without the INS conducting basic criminal background checks. We need to enforce the law at our nation's borders.

If foreigners entering our country were screened as well as law-abiding citizens who purchase guns are, Mr. Johnson and the other sniper victims might still be alive.

David Firestone


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