The Straight Dope

The High Life

Lookin' for one last hit: I greatly enjoyed your article about the widely unknown mainstream usage of pot ("Reefer Mainstream," Amy Silverman, October 31). I felt that the profiling of persons who smoke marijuana and lead completely regular lives is important to get out there.

Being a pot smoker (and occasionally other stuff), I feel that the time is coming when the usage of drugs, especially pot, will become a non-issue. Persons from my generation and the new generation on the way are very pro-drug.

However, I found myself wanting something more from your article at the end. The statistics you offer about how many people really do smoke marijuana at the beginning were interesting, as were the profiles of professionals who do, but it would have been nice to see a closing wrap-up -- especially for those who don't smoke pot and already know this -- that it's not that big of a deal. Quite frankly, the vast majority of smokers I have known are responsible professionals and good people. It seemed as though you made the case for the normalcy and generally benign nature of marijuana use, but then didn't really hit the home run. I smoke pot, so what? I'm not hurting anybody else, and probably not even myself.

For the record: I'm 25, a student at ASU, have smoked pot since my teens. I just recently went back to school after working as an information systems manager for about five years. I made great money, managed critical infrastructures for my employers and was known for my long work hours. I once told my boss after two days of hell fixing a systems crash that I was going to go home and get stoned out of my mind. He laughed and hoped I enjoyed it. I received a pay raise a couple days later.

The majority of people don't mind what you do at home. I pay my taxes, vote and am involved. I care about my friends. In school, I have a 4.0 GPA. I smoke pot and have never felt ashamed, or even felt I needed to hide it, except from the friendly law enforcement, and I don't think they much care, either.

Great article, wished there was more.

Derek Grimme

Don't fear the reefer: Boy, you sure hit the head on this one. If every pot smoker came out, we would all be amazed who actually does do it. From the executives down to the office cleaning lady. I know people who are Christians and metal-heads who smoke dope, just all types of people, all walks of life, even some who use for medical purposes, and it helps them.

Legalize. What are we waiting for? Amsterdam seems to do okay with it. But it takes a while to get anything done. First should be medical use. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Wade Coutee

We're all stars now in the dope show: I currently live in Oklahoma but graduated from high school and college in Arizona. I can't tell you how refreshing it was to see people come "out of the closet" regarding recreational use of marijuana. I am 34 years old, married with a responsible job, a full-time graduate student and I take care of my grandfather with Alzheimer's on the weekends. I also enjoy an occasional toke after working hours.

There, I said it. I appreciated the way the article stressed that people who use marijuana are not part of some fringe group. We are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, teachers, doctors, etc.

The first time I ever smoked pot, I was 14 and we got the pot from one of my best friends' parents' stash. Her dad was a doctor in Phoenix. People need to realize that marijuana is not a big deal. Not any bigger of a deal than alcohol, anyway, and less prone to incite violent behavior.

Tonya Chapman Jones
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Keep off the grass: Both Michael Lacey in "Marijuana and Mortality" (Lacey, October 31) and Amy Silverman spout generally held misbeliefs about marijuana, yet in their own examples, show the inconsistency of what they are professing. I will start by saying that I am a drug-prevention specialist, so if I sound like one, there's a reason. But that also means I have done a lot of research, and I have heard all the excuses.

Most important, marijuana does not cure, treat or help with cancer. What it does is help decrease the nausea of people on chemotherapy. It is chemotherapy that treats the cancer, not pot. And the reality is that there are better drugs to treat the nausea than THC, and ones with fewer side effects. Lacey tells of his own desire to smoke a joint after spending time with a dying Tom Fitzpatrick, who did not use pot during his cancer treatment. And Deborah Laake, who did use pot, ended up depressed and committed suicide, though was cancer-free by that time. So the actual use of marijuana seems to be as a coping skill, and a bad one at that.

Amy Silverman quotes many people who say they smoke pot almost daily and are productive, functioning citizens. There are also a lot of "functioning" crack users out there, and prescription drug users, but it doesn't mean we should make them accessible to all on a daily basis and pretend that it's fine because not everyone who uses them has a "problem." I also have known a few alcoholics who claimed to be functioning quite well, until they get pulled over for a DUI or killed someone drunk driving or get pulled in for domestic violence.

I also watched as my grandfather was tied to his home, because he had to breathe off an oxygen tank from the emphysema he got from smoking. He hadn't smoked for 20 years when the disease was diagnosed. At the time he was smoking, he had no idea the effect it would have on his body later. Today we know this so-called "cancer treatment" of marijuana actually causes cancer and emphysema. The excuse I have heard for this one is that a joint is not as bad as cigarettes in causing cancer, because people don't smoke as many. But one joint is equivalent to five cigarettes and is purposefully held in the lungs. The people identified therefore smoke at least five cigarettes worth of carcinogens daily, much more than "social smokers" I know.

Amy Silverman quotes Harriet, who does not have a problem, as having to buy larger quantities all the time to reduce the risk of arrest. A better way to not get arrested is to not use. Harriet is very careful to not drive or work stoned. Hmmm, it must be dangerous. Willie Nelson had a reefer in his car ashtray, but he's a model citizen. Well, he must have gotten pulled over for something. And even though Grant Woods thinks it's okay that Willie was smoking while driving, Harriet doesn't. And she uses, unlike Mr. Woods.

Marijuana is not benign. Not to the user and not to others.

I wish everyone was as "responsible" and "in control" as Harriet, so as to not drive or work around me stoned. But the truth is, they are not. Please, if she ever calls you up on the phone and says she has lung cancer, don't offer to share a toke.

I hope enough people decided to "Just Say No" to Prop 203.

Heather Kirk

Pot Shots

Sick as a dog: Wow! Your writer, Robert Nelson, managed to pack quite a bit of New Age angst into a relatively small article ("Sniper," October 24)! In one short article, he managed to ridicule and condemn God, religion, guns, gun owners, a small businessman, the military, the police, his personal friends, his son and -- oddly enough -- himself. It is quite a feat to pack so much into so little!

But if the article was mostly true -- and wasn't just an example of literary license -- then you have one sick puppy on your writing staff! Actually, even if it is mostly literary and not reality, you still have a sick puppy on your hands. Either way, he demonstrates deep-seated personal demons in having both an admiration for killing and self-hatred that he is so fascinated by torture, death and mutilation. It is easy to see that he might be suspect of the motivation of others because of his perspective. After all, if he has these twisted fantasies, then doesn't everyone else?

Steve Hedrick

He shoots, he scores: With a little research, the "skinner's" name could be found, but that's unimportant. What is important is that he came back from the madness. If God is not a sociopath, your friend will make it to heaven. He's been to hell already.

I hate to burst their bubbles, but not all snipers are decent shots. I don't have time to explain it all, but in 'Nam, I -- hell, my whole unit -- was sniped at repeatedly. It was one of the hazards of being a support unit. After a while you get used to it, but to explain that would take us into a three-hour discussion about PTSD. But Churchill was right, you never feel more alive than when someone is trying to kill you.

Good article; keep up the good work.
Jim Bailey
Cripple Creek, Colorado

Mental trigger: Your article really made me think about myself and the firearms that I own. I will always believe that we have a right to bear arms. But can that really be subject to responsible citizens? I know that I will not sleep well until that sniper is captured. Your story was awesome.

Via e-mail

Expense Accounts

Party pooper: Thanks for another fine Spiked column. The coverage of the campaign spending and who has the most toys and cash to blow and the purchasing of political party favors is mind-blowing ("Money for Nothing," Spiked, October 24). I have always wondered how the scoundrels get the kind of money together to lavish their peers in places like the Waldorf Astoria, etc.

I voted early this time around, and I voted for anyone that was not a Republican or a Democrat. The sad thing about this nation these days is that, on a local or federal level, all of our political system is corrupt. We need a complete replacement of all those currently in office nationwide with individuals that have true personal integrity.

It's like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angel of the Lord wound up seeking only one good man in the entire area besides Lot, and there weren't any.

Pogo said it best, "We have seen the Enemy, and He is US."

Jim Terry
Via e-mail

Service Call

Phoning in: My wife and I ate at Nick & Tony's on a Sunday afternoon ("Qwest for Service," Carey Sweet, October 31). Needless to say, the service was terrible and our food was nothing to rave about.

To lump all of Qwest together is unfair. Qwest provides a lot of jobs in Arizona; we then spend money in the local economy. You should have indicated that all of Qwest is not bad. Furthermore, you just alienated 7,500 potential customers for Nick & Tony's. Good going! You are really good for our economy. Less taxes equal less school dollars. Thanks a lot.

Thomas Carrozza
NBA Sales Engineer
Qwest Communications

Tasteless: I need to express how unbelievably disgusted I am with the "Qwest for Service" article by Carey Sweet. Or should I say Carey Psychopath? Why would you mix a review for a food restaurant and utility company? There's nothing clever about it. I feel after reading this that if Carey met someone that worked for Qwest, they'd be shot. Our nation does not need any more crazy snipers.

I will not visit Nick & Tony's because of this article. I'm sure if they didn't agree to this article prior to print, they won't be too happy to know they will lose patrons because of this. I'm sharing the opinion of many people who both like and dislike Qwest and have read this inappropriate and scary article.

Everyone has the right to voice their opinion, and should. This was absolutely ridiculous and in very poor taste for what's going on in the world right now!

Via e-mail

Fighting Words

And in this corner: With the awareness that your publication frequently deals with volatile issues, I nonetheless find it unconscionable that the New Times would sucker into giving this felon the kind of hype these sorts of abusers so desperately crave ("In This Corner," Speakeasy, October 31). Although I see this article as exposing [David Hans Schmidt] for the kind of despicable person he truly is, your attention serves to allow him to minimize his heinous behavior and to feed his inflated ego and self-righteous narcissism.

Did you even consider checking court records or interviewing the family who fears this man to provide "the rest of the story"? This article may seem "simple" enough to you, but who will take responsibility when he turns his rage on this family as a result the bully pulpit provided by the New Times, which serves not only to further enable but smacks of encouragement? Whatever happened to responsible journalism? Shame on you, and shame on you again!

Name withheld by request

Mourning Breakfast

Toast of the town: I read your recent article on Privé restaurant written by Carey Sweet ("Coyote Ugly," October 17). I feel the need to respond. One Saturday morning, I went to Privé to have breakfast because I was curious about the place. I ordered coffee with cream and their three-egg omelet. The coffee was good, and the omelet was tasty. What was off-putting was that there was no toast with the omelet, and the service was terrible. I tipped the waitress 25 cents and went to one of the stands at the Central Bus Terminal and got a muffin and more coffee. I resolved never to go back there.

Ruth Morsan

Radio Activity

Inebriated and opinionated?: I thought I'd never come across someone as ignorant as the "man" who called Darryl Kile's widow for a date, but after reading your "column" (which I only came across because I was reading, I stand corrected ("Seeing Red," Robert Nelson, October 17).

At least the DJ could use the excuse that it happened in the heat of the moment. You had days to form your opinion on this. Please at least tell me you have a drug or alcohol problem and that you wrote the piece under the influence. Then, perhaps, you'd have a slight excuse.

I guess none of this should surprise me. After all, you live in a state that, as recently as a decade ago, did not recognize the Martin Luther King holiday.

Back up the trailer, Jethro!
Matt DeMazza
New York City

Firing squad: I bet this isn't the first one of these letters you've received. While we're firing people left and right, perhaps you should volunteer your own position. You shouldn't feel sorry for Beau Duran; he leaves one DJ job for another with more PR (good or bad -- who cares in radio these days?) than most radio jocks get in their entire careers. Had he taken just a moment's thought before his prank call, he'd have realized the ignorance of what he was about to do.

Flynn Kile and her and Darryl's children didn't get to say goodbye to Darryl. You apparently have no idea the anguish that they continue to deal with. All St. Louisans wondered how such an act would "play" in Phoenix. We were horrified by it here. Apparently, there is a market for such complete ignorance in Phoenix, judging merely by your support for Mr. Duran.

Tony La Russa was the first one Flynn Kile turned to after the prank, likely in tears. La Russa overreacted at first and later suggested the jock be fired. You've chosen to forgive a sorry DJ for his gross act; can you not forgive Tony La Russa for his angry retort? La Russa and Duran both can expect future employment. If I were you, Mr. Nelson, I'd update that résumé and rethink your opinion on this matter.

Tim Perry
St. Louis

Live lesson: I could not have agreed with you more. It was a stupid mistake that unfortunately was made on live radio. It didn't truly hurt anyone and was apologized for with sincerity several times. However, the reaction by Tony La Russa was uncalled for and could have had some serious consequences.

Just because his team sucks and needed a rallying call does not give Tony the right to essentially put out a hit on Beau Duran.

I wish Beau had not been fired, but he was. I hope his career in radio is not ruined because of this one mistake that I'm sure he has learned a lesson from. Now I think that Tony La Russa should lose his job for the way he handled himself and the media around the incident.

Steve Hunt
Via e-mail

Bully pulpit: You've got to be kidding. Portraying Tony La Russa as a bully? He didn't start it, but he, along with others, damn well finished it.

Any red-blooded American man with a conscience would do the same thing. He'd be just as angry if it happened to the widow of a D-Back while here in St. Louis.

Gary Carr
Florissant, Missouri

Radio sensitive: Duran had a choice to say the words that he said or hang up the phone. We know what he said. He made a classless choice. La Russa reacted instinctively. Why are you defending people like this? I'll bet that if a tragedy had befallen the D-Backs and the shoe was on the other foot, you wouldn't be out to get Brenly.

Dave Schwartz
St. Louis


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