Readers write for Monday, July 19

  • July 18, 2010 - 5:55 PM


Legal or illegal, let's be honest about abuse

Having just returned from California and Colorado, then reading "Almost an epidemic" (July 11), about the cannabis caravans in Montana where physicians go on the road issuing marijuana cards at the rate of 150 a day, this aging hippie is hoping Minnesota does not join in the medical-marijuana mirage.

As a cancer survivor, I had thought that medical marijuana was a good idea. I may yet be one of those who could legitimately use it for medical reasons. But if it were really a medical drug, I should be able to have my prescription filled at my normal pharmacy. Instead, what I saw in California and Colorado were seedy shops with hand-painted signs as subtle as "Dr. Reefer." Some storefronts shared billboard space with their recommended source of a doctor willing to issue a quick prescription for any type of pain -- sometimes by webcam.

If we want to legitimize marijuana, let's be honest and call it what it is: legalization of a recreational drug. If that is what Minnesotans want, fine. Sell the product in regulated liquor stores and collect appropriate taxes. But please, let's avoid the sleaze and hypocrisy that is rampant with medical marijuana.


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There are commercials and articles about the danger of drug use; information for parents about how to talk to their children about drugs, and even information for a younger generation to seek help dealing with parental drug use. Yet one whole category of substances is overlooked: prescription psychiatric drugs, which have become an epidemic in my age group (I am 24).

One doctor visit, and people can obtain sleeping pills, pills to wake them up in the morning after the sleeping pills and pills to balance their emotions while they are awake. They quickly become transformed into humans devoid of emotion or the ability to think for themselves and become as addicted as a heroin or meth addict. Just as with abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs, relationships are destroyed.

True, some experience a true chemical imbalance in their brain, but it's quite improbable that so many suffer such disorders. What kind of damage are these medications doing to the young brain that is still physically developing? What kind of damage are they doing to the adult brain that is developed and not given a chance to process changes in life naturally, without adding substances that change personality, activity, appetite?

These are the drugs that we as a society need to be more aware of, as well as the fact that if a problem cannot be fixed by illegal drugs' false euphoria, what is the chance it will be fixed by a legal drug?

There is no cure for the feelings in life. You will feel sad when something tragic happens; you will feel anger at injustice; you will feel anxious and insecure in new and strange environments. But with all this you will also experience the greatest of joy in things like love and sharing. One of our greatest gifts are the feelings and sensations we have, and to deny our brains and bodies experiencing those is to live a lie.



Car wash slaying shows how tiffs can turn lethal

Anthony Hartman, a 22-year-old Eagle Scout, is dead from a bullet allegedly fired by Jonas Grice, a 27-year-old described by his parents as a "good kid" who is "not one to go out and bully or pick on anybody." There was apparently a small altercation at a car wash, and before other customers even realized anything had happened, a young man was dead on the floor.

This is an excellent example of why I want fewer guns in my community, as any minor tiff can become deadly when someone has easy access to a gun.



Liberia gets justice. What about America?

Reading the July 15 online story "Appeals court upholds torture conviction, sentence for son of former Liberian president Taylor" reminded me that politically it's easier to see the splinter in someone else's eye than the log that is in one's own eye. Aug. 1 is the eighth anniversary of the infamous torture memos from the George W. Bush administration, and no one is calling for accountability.

Our justice system is abysmal when it comes to torture.


Video games

Played in moderation, harmless as Facebook

I was a bit put off by the article on how to effectively distract your children from the dreaded 'video-game life' ("Screen time tied to attention loss," July 15).

Studies have shown that the brain areas that are stimulated when playing a video game are equally as active when playing a sport.

Video games have evolved into livable stories. I was raised in a house that supported my gaming. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, and a college athlete, and I am now quite successful in my career because my parents supported my decisions and set standards that included grades and time off the computer.

You shouldn't have to "distract" your children from video games. In fact, I would rather that more played: It's just as social as Facebook, text-messaging, or talking on the phone in some cases.

One of my best friends moved to New York, and the way we catch up is by logging a couple hours riding around the Old West in "Red Dead Redemption," or laying siege to a bunker in "Call of Duty," all while actively chatting via Xbox Live.

The children who have behavioral problems or disorders, or who are spending too much time gaming, are more often than not stricken by other ailments. And one of the basic tenets of science is that correlation is not the same as causation.

Video games speak to youths -- something parents neglect to do far too often. Indeed, this is the real reason kids spend too much time online; they don't get the live, in-person interaction from the adults around them.


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