Letters

Big Bong Theory
Thanks, New Times, for publishing "Tokin' Resistance" (Howard Stansfield, December 12). I had a friend who passed away from cancer at age 21. He lived with cancer for 10 years. He often spoke of his chemotherapy sessions and how consuming marijuana helped him through the ordeal. He said that even members of the hospital staff would arrange opportunities for him to consume at the hospital. His own parents (who didn't necessarily approve of his behavior) pretended not to notice. Maybe it was too important to them that he didn't suffer needlessly in his short life. I don't remember him suffering. He made a choice not to.

It's a quality-of-life issue. It is stunning and extremely inhumane that people will justify the needless suffering of others to support their fear and righteousness of circumstances they don't really understand, and don't care to. It's sickening beyond words.

If the passing of Proposition 200 encourages education about drugs and treatment of drug abuse, I'm totally for it. I didn't abuse dangerous drugs because they were illegal. I didn't abuse them because I learned why they were unhealthful. I learned the truth. I couldn't have cared less if they were illegal; obviously, many people feel as I do. That's why the drug war is a failure, and always will be. It's dehumanizing. The voters want to change that. I wasn't fooled, as Senator Jon Kyl suggests. It makes perfect sense to me.

Name withheld

Howard Stansfield took literary license in leaving out important facts about two of the patients he interviewed for his article "Tokin' Resistance." Stansfield said my father served in the Merchant Marine in WWII. My father served in the Navy and went on no fewer than six invasions, one in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific. We clearly stated this when speaking with Stansfield. My dad later joined the Merchant Marine and took supplies to Vietnam. My dad retired from the Merchant Marine on the Great Lakes in 1988. Stansfield said he left the sea behind in 1976.

I don't appreciate Stansfield comparing my father to Herman Melville's Ahab, a character obsessed and delusional, fighting what he perceived to be a monster and drowned on its back trying to kill it. My father is no more delusional in fighting the drug wars than he was when he was fighting for his country in WWII. In order to help himself and his family in the treatment of glaucoma, he had to travel outside our country to be protected from it. My father and I traveled to Holland to obtain a prescription which could superpose the federal regulations about our medicine. Medicine that prevents the progression of glaucoma: cannabis.

We are U.S. citizens and should be protected by our Constitution. Our U.S. Constitution and our U.N. Charter are tools in court battles over our right to our medicine. My father is an American hero, not only because he fought for our country, but because he is still fighting for his country. Drug prohibition and the drug wars are aimed right at the hearts of our American children, using our children as pawns in the lucrative business of drug profits.

Stansfield's sly remark about the doctors in the Netherlands is disrespectful and unsound: "Relaxed drug laws allow doctors to write prescriptions for just about anything, including marijuana." The truth is, doctors in the Netherlands are not hindered by insane drug laws in treating their citizens. The Netherlands respects its doctors. Training and education are regulated and trusted by the people and the government. I will go so far as to say Dutch medicine is superior to American medicine. The examination and compassion I received from my Dutch doctor are far better than I have ever received from my HMO plan in America.

Stansfield said that "it is marijuana's medical applications that are of the most interest to Mulcahy." My father thinks the hemp industry is of equal importance to our nation, medicine for our Earth. Pollution is a medical problem, too. Without a clean environment and trees, his grandchildren haven't much of a future. He knows if we grew hemp as an industry, there would never be an excuse to cut down another ancient forest. He is a major supporter of using alcohol fuel for cars and the carbohydrate-hemp industry to provide that fuel and clean up dirty air.

We were not pleased with the other descriptions of patients in the article; anyone who is using cannabis as medicine is under enough pressure without being made fun of. The last fact Stansfield got wrong, even though it was to my credit--I am 41 years old; he said 38--I should thank him for that mistake, but I would rather set the record straight.

Sharon Harrington
Mesa

Editor's note: New Times acknowledges and regrets erroneous reporting of Jim Mulcahy's military service, the date he left the merchant marine and the letter writer's age.

Is democracy soon to be declared an endangered species? Will our legislators and governor render initiative meaningless, an impotent footnote at the end of the ballot? This scenario could become a reality in the wake of Proposition 200's adoption.

Senator Jon Kyl says that we were deceived, that we could not understand the initiative's three or four simple sentences. Governor Fife Symington, indicted on more than two dozen felony charges, including fraud (now there's credibility), once again shows contempt for the people of Arizona, first threatening to veto the measure, then declaring that the Legislature could "adjust" the law. There is a certain irony in this. Our governor may soon be forced to resign membership in one club that he is particularly fond of. It's called "registered voters."

They got part of it right. We don't understand how an otherwise law-abiding citizen could face a felony conviction and jail time for first-offense possession of a small amount of marijuana. We don't understand why someone who uses marijuana to prevent the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy is a menace to society. We don't understand anachronistic, draconian drug laws. We do understand a few things. People who commit violent crimes while under the influence of any drug should serve their entire sentence. And what is the drug associated with crime more than all others? Alcohol. We understand that current drug-prevention programs are ineffective. That it's time for a new approach.

Yes, Jon and Fife, we understand. By a two-to-one margin. It's called democracy.

Scott Gidley
Mesa

Loss Cause
New Times' story of Lloyd's of London Names in America ("How Not to Make a Shilling in Insurance," Tony Ortega, December 12) has a familiar plot that I first saw when I was 4 years old, and my friend Billy lost all his marbles and went home crying to his mother. She made us give back the marbles. Up to that time, Billy had no problem keeping our marbles.

The tremendous financial district of New York and the fabulous casinos of Las Vegas were built with money from the same suckers who do not know how to hang on to their money.

What really hurts is that now, the Arizona Lloyd's Names want Arizona tax dollars spent so that they can get out of their obligations.

If one thinks the whining is bad now, just wait until the 1997 crash hits the American sheep in the stock market! BAAA! BAAAA! Keep up the good work.

Joe L. Galvan
Tempe

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