I hate to criticize my own party, but, frankly, I’m nonplused and discouraged by the DFL’s decision regarding the recreational use of pot, read on the front page in “DFL to make its case for legal pot” on Aug. 30.

Look no further than the next page that same day for compelling, evidence-based reasons to exercise caution regarding recreational pot — “Officials warn against use of pot during pregnancy” — and, thus, logically, for the DFL to reconsider legalization as a priority, especially during this extremely critical election cycle. The article cites the following: “Federal health officials issued a national warning ... against marijuana use by adolescents and pregnant women,” labeling marijuana a “dangerous drug,” and, according to scientific research, “harmful to the developing brains of teenagers and to the human fetus.” Teenage use affects parts of the brain “involved with attention, memory, decisionmaking and motivation.” Rather critical areas of brain development, I should think. Also, the American Medical Association “strongly supports the government’s effort,” the article says. (Medical use is a different issue, and justifiable, in my opinion.)

Yet my dear DFL is working hard, launching a state tour even, to make a case for legalizing recreational marijuana. How can this be? Please, give this some thought! And aren’t there more critical issues crying out for your time and energy, e.g., affordable housing, climate change/environment, gun violence, racial equity, just to name a few?

Incidentally, my son’s first psychotic episode was “marijuana-induced paranoia” per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-3). He later developed schizophrenia (perishing in his sleep, age 44, in a group home).

Jean Greenwood, Minneapolis

• • •

The United States of America was founded on the principle of personal freedom and liberty. So much so that in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, we are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Some adult citizens enjoy consuming alcohol, and some enjoy nicotine. Adults in Minnesota may enjoy these legally. But in Minnesota, adults who would enjoy cultivating and consuming cannabis in the privacy of their own home are, by law, denied this personal liberty and freedom.

Attorney John Hagen is against legalizing recreational pot, as his Monday Opinion Exchange piece says (“DFL backs legalization movement at our peril”). Hagen argues that cannabis is dangerous to children, and he uses this to justify keeping it illegal for Minnesota’s adults. However, if this is valid justification for the prohibition of cannabis, it should also be applied to alcohol and nicotine.

History teaches us about the repercussions of the Volstead Act. Today, we have many citizens incarcerated for possessing cannabis. How is this different?

I assume Hagen is well-schooled in matters of the law. He also mentions the word “libertarian” seven times in his essay but advocates withholding said liberty from adult citizens in Minnesota. Hagen, please read the Declaration of Independence and explain to me why I can grow apples in my Minneapolis yard to make hard cider legally, but I can’t grow cannabis in my home, for private and personal enjoyment, legally.

Daniel Romig, Minneapolis


Current Kmart deal needs to go

Where’s eminent domain when you really need it? Appropriating the Lake Street Kmart with just compensation is long overdue and would finally put an end to the debacle of a closed-off Nicollet Avenue (“As Kmarts vanish, store blocking Nicollet Avenue endures,” Sept. 8).

It’s not that Kmart isn’t a needed retail venue — it is — and it could be an even better one if properly redesigned into the landscape. How about a new modern Kmart that could still exist on both sides of Nicollet but is elevated above to allow traffic and pedestrians to travel through?

Minneapolis should not only compensate Sears Holdings for the land, but it could also offer to forgo collection of the paltry $10,000 per month lease that is paid to the city. That is a small price to pay to get Nicollet Avenue back.

The wonderful thoroughfare that is Nicollet Avenue should be reclaimed and revitalized. The neighborhood that was once home to Nicollet Park baseball stadium is due for a modern makeover.

Kmart has had the gift of virtually free rent since the 1970s. It’s time to be a good neighbor and make a deal with the city.

Steve Sitkoff, Minneapolis


Hannity makes more money than most of the ‘elites’ he criticizes

Let’s scrap the terms “elites” and “liberal elites” when pronounced with a disparaging or disdainful tone of voice. These are GOP talking points coined by the dominant forces in the party of the rich. And they are truly elite! They have funded several think tanks, full of folks who think up these canards.

No less than Forbes magazine has estimated Sean Hannity’s annual income to be $36 million. (He admits he is overpaid.) And yet he derides the “elites,” the wealthy journalists who were allegedly backing Clinton because they allegedly ate in “fine steakhouses” and drank “expensive wines.” Hannity says that because of these alleged meals, they can’t possibly report accurately on the average American. Well, those allegedly wealthy journalists who predicted — not backed — Clinton’s win would be delighted to know they are rolling in it. But isn’t Hannity?

And so it goes. Anchors on Fox News tend to make more money than many other anchors. Under their own logic, they cannot report on themselves because they are part of the “elite” who dictate the political thoughts of their own viewers. Having such high incomes puts them squarely in the midst of an automatic conflict.

So, let’s not use the term “elites,” unless it is employed in a proper factual context.

Mary McLeod, St. Paul


DNR’s logging goals imperil forests

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources is running headlong into increased cutting of nearly 900,000 cords from our public forests yearly at the behest of forest industries and the Minnesota DNR’s administration. This massive overharvest is harming us all. It limits our forests’ ability to provide good hunting, wildlife-watching and critically clean air.

The focus is on logging nearly all older forests in the state over 10 years, a travesty in the face of the climate crisis. And we learn not only our public state forests but our state Wildlife Management Areas are also targeted. The DNR’s website states WMAs are the backbone to DNR’s wildlife management efforts in Minnesota. Nowhere is logging called out as a purpose.

In an unprecedented and career-risking move, 28 wildlife managers sent a letter to the DNR administration, sharing concerns that their knowledge of where and what to cut to support wildlife is being ignored. They argue that too many oak and aspen trees, which are key food and habitat for many animals from deer and moose to songbirds, are being cut. Further, this logging increases fragmentation of our forests, which impacts sensitive species that need large, connected areas to thrive.

Sierra Club is gravely concerned that DNR’s St. Paul administration appears to be one-sided when it comes to forest values, only focused on cutting, and that it is ignoring the sound science and on-the-ground knowledge of its very own experts. We urge calling the DNR to say that these are public lands that are set aside for public good, not private interest.

Bob Graves and Lois Norrgard, Bloomington

Graves is a co-chair and Norrgard is a member of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Forests & Wildlands Committee.


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