In Higher Ground (Nov. 2), former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon says, "I can't think of anybody who has died from marijuana." I also can't think of a case where somebody died from an overdose of LSD. The problem with marijuana, and LSD for that matter, is its effect on thinking and behavior. And it's this behavioral toxicity, such as impaired ability to pay attention while driving, that's the real problem with marijuana. The only reason marijuana is used in the first place is because it has a primary effect on the brain, the central nervous system. After all, people don't use marijuana because they like to have bloodshot eyes. The central nervous system effects include impaired attention, impaired depth perception, amotivation and more. Knowing these effects, I certainly do not want my doctor, dentist, police officer, child-care worker or professor to use marijuana.
And frankly, to suggest that almost all the "problems and violence" associated with drug use result from the laws is indicative of pharmacological ignorance. Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine mimic the body's activation of the sympathetic nervous system. It's this system that's responsible for the body's fight-or-flight response. In fact, they are correctly termed "sympathomimetics." These drugs cause the user to feel that they are in danger. But the user is responding to the drug, and not the environment. And people who feel threatened, feel paranoid, are dangerous and often violent. PCP ("angel dust") has similar effects.
Like Ike McKinnon, I also am a retired police officer. I also know and respect Dr. Michael Whitty. (In the interest of full disclosure, Mike Whitty was one of my U of D professors many years ago.) But when it comes to drug legalization, including that of marijuana, professors McKinnon and Whitty are wrong. —Thomas E. Page, M.A., drug recognition expert emeritus, retired, Los Angeles Police Department, Detroit
Cheers for Ike
Re: Police Chief Ike McKinnon's turnaround, it's commendable and it adds important credibility when law enforcement officers speak out against cannabis (marijuana) prohibition, persecution and extermination. The few to benefit from caging humans for using the God-given plant include the drug-testing industry, police unions concerned with job security and gangs concerned with profit. Nearly everyone else, including our children, suffers due to cannabis prohibition.
Ending cannabis prohibition is one of the most important issues of our time. —Stan White, Dillon, Colo.
Re: "High stakes" (Nov. 2), the clear stupidity of people like state Attorney General Bill Schuette — in making a career of opposing marijuana — is seen when we examine a few facts. First off, contrary to any myths promoted by the drug warriors, cannabis is the least toxic drug known to mankind. There has never been a fatality attributed to marijuana in 5,000 years of recorded use.
Claims that marijuana is "dangerous" are myths and propaganda coming from drug warriors worried about losing cushy jobs chasing potheads, who need no protection from cannabis. It is long past time to abandon reefer madness and to set marijuana free.
Marijuana prohibition was founded on absurd fictions such as the notion that "[Smoking] one [marihuana] cigarette might develop a homicidal mania, probably to kill his brother." However, the drug crusaders cannot point to a single homicide caused by just smoking marijuana.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette would do citizens a better service by abandoning his reefer madness campaign and focusing law enforcement on real crimes such as rape, child molesting, drunk driving, car theft, burglary, assault, murder and other crimes that really injure people. —Ralph Givens, Daly City, Calif.
Oblivious to facts
Your superb summary of the medical marijuana controversy featured the intransigence of AG Schuette, who bloviates, "Across Michigan, our communities are struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches,"
This statement is so oblivious to the facts that it is appalling from such an official.
Taxpayers have paid Monitoring the Future (MTF) to survey some 2 million teens aged about 14 to 18 since 1975 to provide regular reports. The short summary of that data is to say that virtually any teen who has wanted any drug for at least 35 years has been able get it by simply asking a few peers. In the words of MTF, "[M]arijuana has been almost universally available to American 12th graders over the past 33 years."
The MTF questions let 12th graders name which ones of 17 factors had an influence on their decisions. MTF says, "The reason for not using or stopping marijuana use cited by the fewest seniors [less than 7 percent] over the 29 years of data included in this analysis was availability." Indeed, the number who say the drugs are "easy to get" vastly exceeds those who actually use them.
So Schuette is desperately trying to keep patients from a valuable, often essential, medicine in order to protect teens by getting them to buy drugs from some of the million other teens that now sell drugs in our nation's schools? Does he celebrate himself with a drink of far more dangerous alcohol? —Jerry Epstein, Houston, Texas
All of the praise of marijuana's powers to alleviate such a wide variety of ills merely serves as evidence of why the power of the corporate — read pharmaceutical — medical establishment uses its lobbying influence to insure that it will not compete with their products.
Look to the bottom line. In Australia and some European countries, strains of periwinkle are prescribed as effective cancer-fighters; in this country, however, scores of components of periwinkle have been extracted from their plant source and registered and marketed as cancer-fighting drugs. Not that this approach saves more lives, but it does effectively give monopolies (through patent) to pharmeceutical companies — for much higher prices than you'll see in your local health shop! (Look: The bottom line!)
It's rather like not selling a plate of food to someone who's starving when you've got the only-game-in-town, and can sell them — by the spoonful — enough to keep body and soul together ... till the next payment.
For some, the top 1 percent, it doesn't get any better! —Bruce Saunders, Detroit
Upon reading you recent article, "Valley of the Doll" (Oct. 26), once again I am astounded at this magazine's obsession with image over substance in Detroit's music scene. I am wondering who Duane the Teenage Weirdo blew to get this article into your paper. First, admitting his ideas are "not executed well," his songs "cheesy," his fan base "small" — then showing some gay bar promo Boy George rip-off pictures makes me wonder who is making music decisions at Metro Times and, secondly, if there is anyone actually in the music scene at all covering it. I am beginning to see why Internet blogs are starting to gain the only legitimacy in this town when writing and reviewing acts, because frankly, reading your paper's music articles is more like reading a band's promo packages instead of actual "in-the-scene" beat writing. Get it together, MT, you just lost another reader. —Lauren Klein, Detroit