In response to "Legalization doesn't lead the way to tyranny" (Opinion Exchange, April 19): In 1958 Aldous Huxley differentiated the mind-numbing drug soma portrayed as the instrument of governmental mind control in "Brave New World" from marijuana. He was right to say marijuana was more nuisance than the source of reefer madness. However, today's 21st century, high-potency addictive cannabis variety is not at all that nuisance weed of the mid-1900s.
The issue of control addressed by authors Marcus Harcus and Oliver Steinberg is a very real one. But from a medical perspective they picked the wrong culprit. Most people avoid becoming addicted to the numerous legal and illegal available substances by cultivating self-restrictive "control" strategies. Make no mistake, addictive substances are a risk to everyone. So, who is more vulnerable to addiction? There are some genetic markers that are at play, but no easily available test to let us know. There are the impulsive and the risk-takers. But I am most concerned about our teens. Without the well-funded education, prevention and early-intervention programs that worked so well for cigarettes, we are setting up some of this generation's teens to underachievement if not failure.
Finally, the bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler in the Minnesota House has a provision for expunging nonviolent misdemeanor marijuana convictions. This provision would have bipartisan support. It is a step in eliminating the Jim Crow injustices. Let's end this tyranny.
Let's also protect the vulnerable and revise the medical cannabis program to fulfill its original mission. None of these solutions requires unleashing another addictive and mental-health-altering drug into society.
George M. Realmuto, St. Paul
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The remarkably well-written April 11 commentary intelligently conveyed the writer's concern that legalizing marijuana would lead to a placid and stupefied citizenry ("Legal marijuana will lead us to a 'Brave New World,' " Opinion Exchange).
But he wasn't there, and he's wrong.
Having lived through the latter half of the 1960s and the early half of the 1970s as one of the millions of dope-smoking hippies and jackpine savages then prevalent, I can assure him that we were neither placid nor stupid. Our greatest concern was that our parents and government were both.
We stood up for the Constitution, marched on Washington and rebelled — all without resorting to armed insurrection or sedition. We persuaded a talented but misguided president to turn down his chance for a second term. We persuaded a self-deluded fascist to resign instead of facing a sure impeachment.
We believed in, and came close to achieving, a Greater Society. And we smoked a lot of dope doing so.
I can assure anyone who wasn't there that potential punishment for the growing of a few green plants took a lot of the fun out of it. But it didn't stop anyone who wanted to do it. As with Peter Pan's "Lost Boys," eventually it came time to grow up and quit losing time to the "if onlies" — the notion that something could be better "if only" this or "if only" that. But that's just growing up.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, only 8% of Americans think marijuana should be illegal for adults. Maybe it really is time to treat our citizenry like adults.
Dave Porter, Minneapolis
Freedom, prevention and the power of individual choice
The COVID-19 pandemic is a fearful and difficult time. However, we have the freedom to choose options that suit us for prevention, such as masks, hand-washing, social distancing and staying at home. Now we have the freedom to choose vaccination.
Recent gun violence makes this a fearful and difficult time, too. However, we do not have the freedom to choose options for prevention that will protect us. On the contrary, the freedom of choice is solely at the discretion of the shooter. The shooter picks the time and place, whether it be a Walmart, church, FedEx center, school or anywhere. U.S. citizens no longer live in a free society when a select few have control of our freedom.
Some of the questions all must ask are: Do we want freedom for all or only a select few? Will we define freedom as the freedom to purchase guns and use them at each individual's discretion to kill people? Are we willing to define it as "stealing of freedom" when freedom is decided by a select few, and do something about it?
Varick Olson, Roseville
It's not injustice. It's contagion.
To figure out why Canada's borders are mostly closed to Americans, state Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber simply need to look in the mirror ("We must meet the crisis on America's border … with Canada," Opinion Exchange, April 20). They, and their party, have undermined, blocked and fought against doing all the simple things required to function safely in a society plagued by a pandemic. Enjoying freedom in a society requires a willingness to operate under basic rules and procedures whereby your actions do not endanger others. Yet to the GOP it is seemingly all about "me," and its members complain about simple requirements like masking, avoiding group activities and keeping your distance.
If they had actively helped to promote these activities and to keep our infection rates down, I have no doubts that Canada would be much more accommodating and treat the border states similarly to intra-provincial travel. That is not to say there would be no limits; Ontario essentially closed its border to other provinces because of a wave of cases. This was not just to slow the spread inside Ontario but also to keep the other provinces safe. You reap what you sow ...
Miles Anderson, Minneapolis
More than a year later, we deal
The last time my two-table bridge group got together for lunch and bridge was March 11, 2020.
The COVID-19 virus had entered our world and a massive change took over our lives. Socializing came to a standstill. Members of my bridge group unanimously agreed to not play again until it was safe.
My bridge group will meet again to play this popular game May 4, 2021. My thoughts:
Is it safe now? All bridge players have had two vaccine shots. I will feel edgy.
Will I remember how to play the game of bridge? Yes, but I will be rusty.
What should I wear? All of us dress casually. I need a new outfit.
Will there be sadness? Yes. One member moved to Florida and one member recently became a widow. We will sympathize in a cheerful, loving manner.
Will our conversation lag? It shouldn't. We all have the "gift of gab."
Can every heart be filled with joy? Of course. To be with friends tops the joy chart.
Deal the cards!
Betty Swisher, Kansas City, Mo.
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