High stakes | June 23
Time to give patients some relief
Opponents are using tired old arguments in favor of marijuana prohibition. Their reasoning is based on opinion, not data. They point out that there is already a legal drug, making smoked pot unnecessary.
That is Marinol, a pill that contains marijuana's active ingredient. It was rushed through DEA/FDA approval several years ago to blunt criticism of marijuana prohibition. But Marinol is less effective than smoked marijuana because its dose cannot be fine-tuned and it can be vomited.
Now prohibitionists are on the defensive again, so they suggest it might be okay to inhale the vapor of certain components of marijuana. That's after obtaining DEA/FDA approval, of course, a task that could take years.
Meanwhile patients continue to wait, decade after decade, held hostage by prohibitionists, whose fear of drug abuse trumps all else. It is time to give patients some relief. We can always go back. Then, at least, voters will have data for an informed decision.
John G. Chase, Palm Harbor
High stakes | June 23
Thanks for your well-written article regarding the potential for ballot legalization of medical marijuana. As usual, the naysayers base their arguments on ignorance rather than fact.
A particularly egregious error: "Legalizing medical marijuana could spawn a seedy black market for unscrupulous physicians." Really? As opposed to the very scrupulous backstreet dealers that cancer patients deal with now? As Robert Jordan, who currently obtains the product illegally for his sick wife, said: He is buying on the street and "keeping fingers crossed they don't get a contaminated batch."
Secondly, "We will see a flood of people coming down from Kentucky or Georgia." I call pants on fire. There is absolutely no evidence of that happening in any state where medical marijuana has become legal, largely because state-issued IDs are required of all patients.
There is no evidence supporting most of the negative (or positive) publicity surrounding the harmfulness of marijuana. This is primarily because the federal government has outlawed research regarding its efficacy for the past 40 years. The only reason marijuana is currently listed as a narcotic is because Big Pharma doesn't want the competition. They'll lose a lot of business when you can grow a nonaddictive version of Prozac, et al., in your backyard.
Steven Lipson, Valrico
Politics and pride: a tale of two cities June 21, Sue Carlton column
Point of pride
St. Petersburg should be happy and proud of the celebration of diversity and uniqueness that will occur on Central Avenue on Saturday. The Pride parade will be fun, festive and a true acceptance of diversity.
Many counties, towns and cities have struggled for years to allow such celebrations. St. Petersburg should be satisfied knowing that the Pride celebration has been happening for over 10 years.
There will always be some who have difficulty in accepting a different manner in thinking, believing or acting. There will be some who use scriptures from the Bible in hopes of justifying their form of hatred and bigotry. Thankfully, the majority of folks who come to the Pride festival are open-minded, accepting and looking for a fun time.
Besides the exercise in acceptance and diversity, there is also the economic impact. We all spend the same color money.
Mark L. Grantham, Gulfport
Proposed law divides gun rights advocates June 22
While it may seem a good idea to impose a blanket denial of firearms ownership to those who voluntarily admit for mental health services, unintended consequences should be considered.
Recent decades have seen progress in alleviating the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment. It has become much more socially acceptable for those who need help to seek it before the potential need for involuntary admission emerges. We also have effective treatments.
But a law that denies a right may mean that those in need may not willingly seek help. When talking with my fellow military veterans about why so many suffer in silence, choosing not to avail themselves of services, among the many reasons — stigma, distrust of established systems — is fear that their rights under the Second Amendment will be terminated.
While the intended consequences of such a law are to keep firearms out of the hands of voluntary admissions, requiring voluntary termination of that right will likely have a chilling effect on individuals' willingness to seek help.
Jack Darkes, Temple Terrace
When a city caves in to complainers June 23, Tim Nickens column
In this column I believe that Tim Nickens inadvertently made the case for those of us who don't support the Lens when he observed that had there been referendums on the Eiffel Tower, Gateway Arch or Cloud Gate sculpture, they might never have been built.
All three of these structures are essentially pieces of artwork. I suspect that tourists to each area might want to visit those artworks, but for most only once. I further suspect that citizens of Paris, St. Louis or Chicago never visit those attractions more than once either. Why would they? Once you've seen it you've seen it. Many downtown residents would prefer a pier that offers activities and attractions that would encourage repeated visits by all. The Lens would soon fall into the category of "been there, done that."
Pat Carlisle, St. Petersburg
Sex assaults in military: 53% on men | June 24
Inside the numbers
This rather startling headline is misleading regarding the percentage of men versus women in the military who have been sexually assaulted, and it is not clarified sufficiently in the article.
With a number of 26,000 total assaults as reported in the article, 53 percent on men would equate to a total of 13,780 assaults, whereas for women it would be 12,220. Yet, according to data published in numerous places, there are approximately 203,000 women in the military and 1,197,000 men. If you do the math, this means that 6 percent of women (12,200 of 203,000) have been sexually assaulted, whereas 1 percent of men (13,780 of 1,197,000) were assaulted. So the rate for women is still six times that for men.
Joel K. Thompson, professor of psychology, USF, Tampa