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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Letters | Pot principles
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Thursday, April 1,2010

Letters | Pot principles

Pot principles

Anyone living in Boulder is no stranger to the medical marijuana dispensary phenomenon that has been unfolding recently. While the current situation is certainly a step in the right direction towards drug policy reform, prefacing all things marijuana with the term “medical” is a bit irking.

Personally I enjoy, and have enjoyed, recreationally smoking marijuana for years. But as young, perfectly healthy co-workers, friends and neighbors retrieve their medical cards for things like chronic pain, or sleep apnea, I often ask myself who they are fooling.

Of course, there are patients who greatly benefit from the service, but unfortunately all of the “patients” I know, understandably, just like to get high. While obtaining the privilege of buying exotic strands of organic, locally grown grass from a storefront is certainly alluring, the principle of lying to a doctor seems foolish. I suppose it’s a silly moral pedestal to stand on, thinking back to the days of being terrified to drive with a gram of marijuana in my possession, but for now it feels valid.

The economic gain is certainly notable. Local papers can surely attest to the rise in advertising, the tax dollars don’t hurt either, and no one working for a dispensary is complaining. But I can’t help but wonder if the original proponents of the medical marijuana movement, and the patients who truly need it, feel a dishonor to their cause when they open the paper to trendy, tie-dyed dispensary ads with hip and marketable business names. If suddenly the local paper was riddled with pharmaceutical ads and pharmacies were being built at the rate dispensaries are, it is likely that the reception wouldn’t be so hot. It is my hope that “medical” dispensaries are just a necessary formality towards complete legalization, a way of easing the public in gradually.

So while I continue to illegally enjoy a puff now and again, I will wait patiently for legalization to appear on the ballot and hope that when it does, it passes.

Robert Kyle Ussery/Boulder

Clean, cheap coal?

It appears that the coal industry is trying very hard to convince us that burning coal is the cheapest and the cleanest way of generating electricity. Last week in the Camera and Denver Post, “American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity” bought three very expensive full-page ads touting that coal is low-cost, reliable, increasingly clean and it is the better choice than burning natural gas. What is their motive?

The fact is, the coal industry doesn’t want us to move beyond coal. Certainly, it has been proven to be fairly reliable, but “low-cost” and “clean”?

Leslie Glustrom of Clean Energy Action (a Boulder nonprofit that is exposing the true costs and availability of coal — www.cleanenergyaction.org) recently noted: “The coal industry fails to mention that the price that Xcel Energy paid for coal in 2009 ($1.52/million British thermal units) is the price that in 2008 they had expected to pay in 2035. That means coal cost estimates were only off by about a quarter century.”

Folks, the price is going up, and there is hard evidence that we don’t have a 200-year supply. Coal is not exempt from the law of supply and demand.

Furthermore, “clean coal” is an oxymoron. Heavy metals (especially mercury — a deadly poison), particulates (asthma and lung disease) and toxic coal ash (poisoning our water supplies, feedlots and more) are being dumped into the environment every day, not to mention mind-boggling amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and others). When they say “clean coal,” it means that they will have to build a new kind of coal plant that can strip the carbon dioxide out of the exhaust and pump it into the earth.

Carbon capture and storage is an unproven and costly technology with a host of serious problems (groundwater acidification and, “Oops, it leaked”). How many clean coal plants in the U.S.? At last count there were two demonstration plants. This is the answer to cleaning up coal? And what is the cost of a clean coal plant?

Burning coal to generate electricity isn’t going away any time soon, but now that Colorado has a 30 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard, the coal industry’s dominance is starting to fade.

Don’t listen to their propaganda.

The health of the planet and of future generations is at stake. Renewable energy is the answer and the faster we bring it on board, the healthier we’ll all be.

Teresa Foster/Longmont

Why I quit the Dems

I’m no longer a Democrat. They have repeatedly let us down. We have more war and an expanded military budget with shrunken allocations for domestic needs that cry out for help. Truckloads of money went to banks, yet they still give monstrously large bonuses to the elite while they foreclose houses. President Obama has plans to expand “free trade” that is responsible for exporting jobs (e.g. NAFTA and WTO). Single-payer health insurance was off the table, and only a few would even consider it, although between 70 percent and 80 percent of us want it. The new bill makes cuts in Medicare and still leaves loads of people without coverage.

How many times do we have to be let down before the picture is clear? The Democrats have little interest in what we want or need. Neither do the Republicans.

Bob Kinsey is running as a Green for U.S. Senate. Check him out at www.kinseyforsenate.org.

Tom Moore/Boulder

Weeping hypocrites

Poor [House Minority Leader] John Boehner! So bitterly you wept as you bemoaned the Democrats ramming health care through Congress, and so pitifully you sob that they’ve violated the will of the American people! But you see, John, I have an attention span, so I remember the past eight years, when both Congress and the entire Bush administration were doing both of those every minute, and you were loving it! Typical Republian hypocrisy.

J. Andrew Smith/Bloomfield, N.J.

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