Readers' Letters

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Marijuana plants are cultivated at a legal grow operation in Southwest Portland for distribution to Oregon medical marijuana card holders. Oregon voters will decide in November whether to legalize and regulate marijuana.In Dan Staton, Patrick Garrett and Eric Nisley’s op-ed, “Marijuana legalization is a lot of smoke” (Aug. 23), the authors suggest that law enforcement is unified in their opposition to Measure 80 on Oregon’s ballot, but that’s just not true.

I am a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of current and former cops, judges, prosecutors and others advocating for marijuana legalization precisely because of what we saw on the front lines of the war on marijuana.

Like the authors, we started out as true believers, but after witnessing firsthand the real harms of prohibition, we have dedicated our lives to ending it. Prosecuting people for marijuana is a waste of money, squanders scarce law enforcement resources and endangers public safety because the illicit nature of the drug provides huge profits to the violent cartels who currently run the trade. Legalize marijuana and those profits dry up.

During my time as a parole and probation officer and a prison counselor, I cannot tell you how many young people’s lives I saw ruined because of their involvement with marijuana — usually not because of the drug itself, but because of the arrest record that would follow them throughout their lives.

And every minute the police spent going after those kids (paid for by our tax dollars) was one fewer minute they had to spend on the violent crimes being committed in our society.

Measure 80 will transfer the profits to be made in selling marijuana from violent drug gangs to Oregon’s farmers and tax coffers. It will allow police to spend their time investigating real crime.

Vote yes on Measure 80 in November.

Shelley Fox-Loken

North Portland

Blame drug prohibition

Dan Staton, Patrick Garrett and Eric Nisley, your fear-mongering is so absurd (Marijuana legalization is a lot of smoke, Aug. 23).

Is everyone envisioning an apocalypse war-zoned Oregon because of marijuana legalization yet? All I have to say is the same arguments Dan, Patrick and Eric make are the same ones people used to make about alcohol right before prohibition. And it was prohibition that caused the perfect conditions for violent gangs and cartels to prosper, not legalization.

And what’s this manufactured concern about people smoking and driving? You just do what you normally do when you see someone driving drunk: Pull them over if you have probable cause and give them a sobriety test. Sheesh.

April Kennedy


Employers can maintain drug-free workplace

I write in response to “Marijuana legalization is a lot of smoke” (Aug. 23), the first point would have us believe that Measure 80 would allow people, even bus drivers, to drive under the influence. It is currently illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Measure 80 would not change this. Reckless driving is an offense regardless of intoxication level.

The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act calls for marijuana to be sold only by state-controlled vendors similar to liquor stores and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Currently a seller never asks for ID. Wine produced in Oregon cannot be shipped where sales are prohibited or to minors. This would apply to marijuana as well.

Oregonians have “grow operations” for fruits and vegetables. These setups are not a risk to the community. The same grow operation used for cannabis would pose no additional threat.

People can become habitually addicted to video games and jogging. There is no valid scientific evidence of chemical addiction involving marijuana.

And the practice of adding cheaper substances to make marijuana seem more potent to sell cheap product at higher cost is the single greatest risk to marijuana users. OCTA would regulate cannabis additives.

There are no known cases of marijuana deaths. None.

And employers can maintain their drug-free workplace policy. There are tests available that can determine if a person is currently under the influence of marijuana. That is all that is needed to maintain compliance.

By participating in a legal and regulated industry, “drug dealers” will become productive, law abiding, taxpaying Oregonians. If we are going to have arguments for and against Measure 80, let’s forgo the fear mongering, untruths and distortions.

Rev. Jacob Roth

Southeast Portland

Prohibition is a bogus cure

Thank you for running both pro- and anti-Measure 80 pieces on your Aug. 23 Insight page. Oregon voters deserve to see both sides of the marijuana legalization debate.

Both sides are certainly entitled to their own opinions, but not their own “facts.” That the law enforcement officials who wrote against Measure 80 trotted out the same old falsehoods and unsupported allegations is not just sad, but reprehensible (Marijuana legalization is a lot of smoke, Aug. 23). They should be ashamed.

I commend Jeff Anderson for his honest and clear arguments in favor of replacing failed marijuana prohibition with reasonable regulation (End expensive marijuana prohibition, Aug. 23). The effects of prohibition are historical facts which anyone can check and confirm. Prohibition just doesn’t work — unless by “working” you mean subsidizing organized crime and the prison-industrial complex.

Marijuana prohibition has “succeeded” in criminalizing millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans and increasing drug use among minors, who find it easier to get illegal substances than legally regulated alcohol. Just like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition is a bogus cure worse than the disease.

Measure 80 will end that injustice in our state, and will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Oregon’s schools and public health programs. I urge all Oregonian voters to support it.

Bruce A. Knight

Secretary, Libertarian Party of Oregon

Southeast Portland

Sheriffs and DA want to stay in business

Two sheriffs and a district attorney wrote this opinion piece (Marijuana legalization is a lot of smoke, Aug. 23). Their organizations lose money and their buddies lose their jobs when they don’t have any more innocent pot smokers to bully around and run through the judicial systems.

This article is morally dishonest and intellectually disgusting.

Shame on you, Portland Tribune.

Patrick Ortiz

San Antonio, Texas

Prohibition created the mafia, cartels

Simply absurd. We create a black market, then the (officials) stand back in “shock” while criminal elements take over that market (Marijuana legalization is a lot of smoke, Aug. 23).

We are responsible for the deaths in Mexico. We created the drug war, we handed (the cartels) a multi-billion dollar business. Cartels now have planes, trains, guns, submarines and armies. Welcome to reality.

People are getting killed by cigarettes, but I don’t see anyone suggesting we turn smokers into criminals and hand the tobacco industry over to the cartels.

I don’t hear anyone mentioning alcohol, either — a drug that kills more than 2.5 million people worldwide every year.

Still, we tried prohibition and we created the mafia. Now, with marijuana, we have the cartels. This isn’t rocket science: Marijuana should have never been illegal in the first place. It’s by far the safest recreational drug on the market.

None of the silly horror stories has come true for medical marijuana, and none of it will come true if we legalize.

Joey Ismail

Houston, Texas

Legal marijuana creates jobs, benefits farmers

I agree 100 percent the need to end marijuana prohibition nationwide (End expensive marijuana prohibition, Aug. 23).

This would save our ever declining farmers from losing their farms and create millions of jobs, not to mention the benefits to our ecosystem.

Cindy Alderson Petrovich

Dover, Del.

‘Addictive’ claim is bunk

Quite frankly, I don’t see a lot of problems with legalization (End expensive marijuana prohibition, Aug. 23).

Legalization will allow for legal purchase of marijuana by adults, not children. The point that is made that it will increase access by children is bunk. Children already have easy access to pot, alcohol and drugs, both legal and otherwise.

The cartels that run the drug trade will have one less market to make money from.

The “marijuana is addictive” claim is bunk as well. It can be, psychologically speaking, but the chances of you being struck by lightning are far greater than becoming addicted to pot. Drug use does damage communities, but it’s high time people get the propaganda out of their heads and quit lumping in hemp and marijuana with actual dangerous drugs.

According to FDA classifications, marijuana is deemed worse than cocaine and heroin, not to mention alcohol and ... cigarettes, all of which have documented deaths from their use.

It can be taxed and regulated, and the legalization of marijuana will, in many cases, lead to decreased use. Many people are high on the buzz of it being illegal and thus attractive. If there are no more penalties for possession and use, then the attraction fades and many will stop.

For law enforcement, this will be a great boon as many people who drink only do so because pot is illegal. With less people drinking, you have a decrease in drunk driving, and things like domestic violence will almost disappear.

Also an advantage for those of you in law enforcement, your manpower can be focused on getting drugs off the streets and focusing on crimes. Your jail and prison populations will decrease, although the corporations who own your prisons (however many there are) will not like that fact very much. It will save many costs and generate revenue.

Give it a fair chance. If it doesn’t work, then make it illegal again.

Andrew Scarlett

Birchy Bay, Newfoundland, Canada

Marijuana needs to be regulated

Legalize and tax. The only problem with this drug is how it is sold. Marijuana needs to be regulated. Don’t believe everything the news tells you.

Make sure to Google “Cannabis cures cancer.” That will give you a different outlook on the drug and why it is really illegal.

Oil, big pharma and the government do not want it legal for a reason.

Justin Davenport

Brentwood, Calif.

Mental health clinics should replace hospitals

Jim Bellah’s letter is correct in stating that mental institutions should not have been shut down, but he is overlooking a lot of things by stating that, “All the liberals thought it was inhumane to warehouse the mentally ill so they close Dammasch State Hospital...” (Homeless mentally ill don’t fit in society, July 26).

What liberals like me did want was community mental health clinics to take the place of the hospitals. The excellent community health centers of the 1980s and early 1990s did keep a lot of people safe and out of the hospital. But these clinics have been depleted by funding cuts while many mentally ill people now get their “treatment” in jails and prisons.

According to friends of mine, Dammasch was an excellent hospital and the treatment (the mentally ill) received was extremely helpful. Some of these friends did become homeless, but now are in excellent recovery thanks to meds and regular therapy.

According to Dr. M. Brewster Smith, a University of California psychologist, two surviving members of the Congressional Commission on Mental Illness and Health said, ‘’Extravagant claims were made for the benefits of shifting from state hospitals to community clinics. The professional community made mistakes and was overly optimistic, but the political community wanted to save money.” (The New York Times, Oct. 30, 1984).

The Times states: “In California...the number of patients in state mental hospitals reached a peak of 37,500 in 1959 when Edmund G. Brown was Governor, fell to 22,000 when Ronald Reagan attained that office in 1967, and continued to decline under his administration ...”

I hope this letter and the Times’ article clear up some of the misinformation.

Marian Drake, EdM

Northeast Portland

Conservatives started deinstitutionalizing

Letter writer Jim Bellah blames the number of homeless mentally ill on “liberals” (Homeless mentally ill don’t fit in society, July 26). The “liberal” who started deinstitutionalization was Ronald Reagan. The idea was to provide more humane and effective treatment in their homes and communities.

Thanks to the policies of “conservatives” who would now regard Reagan as socialist, the funding to house and treat them never materialized. Now the costs of their economic policies have starved governments and led to the wholesale breakdown of treatment of the mentally ill. They have nowhere to go but the streets, along with those who have lost their homes to banksters protected by their puppets in Washington. Both parties in the corporate-dominated Duopoly have also brought us a ruinously expensive, endless war and the disgrace of tens of thousands of homeless veterans struggling to reintegrate into a society that has forgotten its collective responsibilities.

Rick Staggenborg, MD

Board President, Take Back America for the People

Coos Bay

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