Readers Respond


February 05, 2010

Md. couldn't control marijuana dispensaries

Don't look now, but if the current medical marijuana legislation is passed, a local pot dispensary could end up in your neighborhood ("Md. fights through haze over medical marijuana," Jan. 31). Those supporting the legislation promise to set up tight restrictions on the placement of these dispensaries, but as we have seen with the increased numbers of liquor licenses and methadone clinics, the government has a pretty poor track record in protecting our communities, especially our children.

In Los Angeles they needed to rewrite their legislation when over 1,000 applications were submitted to open up marijuana dispensaries, and in Denver there are now more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks. This is big business, and like with alcohol and methadone, we are opening ourselves up to political corruption and manipulation.

Even if the government tries to monitor their locations, these dispensaries will file lawsuits claiming they are servicing the handicapped and thus cannot be discriminated against in regards to zoning. We have seen these cases in Baltimore County and in Baltimore City. The Hampden community is going through this right now. Therefore, before we pass any medical marijuana legislation in Maryland, we need to set up a commission to study the impact of opening marijuana dispensaries on our communities and on our children.

Mike Gimbel, TowsonThe writer is the former director of substance abuse for Baltimore County.

Marijuana bill includes sufficient safeguards

It is downright disturbing to see that Mike Gimbel, someone who has worked in substance abuse programs, could express such a shockingly callous and ignorant view of medical marijuana dispensaries and drug treatment centers by implying that they would have a negative effect on "our communities, especially our children." As Mr. Gimbel himself should know, such establishments exist in order to provide reprieve and care for afflicted members of our community.

The medical marijuana bill currently proposed by lawmakers in Annapolis would establish a very limited number of state-licensed dispensaries throughout the state. These distribution centers would safely provide medical marijuana only to qualified patients who suffer from certain debilitating diseases and have been recommended marijuana by a doctor with whom they have a long-standing relationship.

So how, exactly, would it harm our community to safely provide medicine only to those who could benefit from it?

Mike Meno, BaltimoreThis writer is assistant director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington.

Millersville landfill complies with environmental standards

In response to the article "Odor complaints at Millersville landfill on the rise" (Jan. 31), I am writing to further inform readers about the ongoing efforts of the Department of Public Works in regards to our neighbors' concerns.

Since January of 2009, during normal operating hours and non-operating hours, the Maryland Department of the Environment conducted 30 investigations relating to our neighbors' concerns and only detected off-site odors on three occasions. They classified the odors as "very slight."

Our landfill is subject to monitoring of surface emissions to detect methane, which is a component of landfill gas. The last testing occurred in December 2009. Close to 400 locations on the active disposal cell were tested. None exceeded regulatory limits.

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued a letter summarizing its review of odor complaints and actions taken by the MDE, which regulates the landfill. There were no data that would suggest the need for the ATSDR to conduct any type of health assessment.

The landfill is in complete compliance with our MDE-regulated permit. We have been filling in the current disposal cell since 1992 and project the cell to be closed in 2014.

Our staff will always take our citizens' concerns seriously and respond immediately, and we will continue to implement suggestions provided by the MDE.

Ronald Bowen, AnnapolisThe writer is director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works.

Md. wouldn't let Frank Lloyd Wright teach architecture

As always, Robert Embry has a full grasp of the barriers that prevent those with expertise to teach in our classrooms ("Maryland must remove barriers to attracting quality teachers," Feb. 1). Pay is certainly a reason, but more important are the certification requirements.

Fifty years ago, when I came to Maryland to teach, my salary was frozen because I lacked a "methods" course, even though my transcript showed a course of "principles and practices" of my discipline. This is a major barrier in the certification process. Once, a retired Naval officer who taught electronics to technicians in the Navy had his salary frozen due to the lack of "methods" courses.

It would appear that Martin Luther King would not be certified to teach theology (if it were allowed); nor would Frank Lloyd Wright be certified to teach an architectural drawing course.

Julius G. Angelucci, Severna Park

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