Regarding your editorial (See “You Get What you Pay For, Opinion, 4/24/08), fully decriminalizing marijuana would definitely save tax dollars, and it would do so without necessarily increasing marijuana use. The deterrent value of punitive marijuana laws is grossly overrated. The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that punishes citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records.

Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to many Americans. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, government is subsidizing organized crime. The drug war’s distortion of immutable laws of supply causes big money to grow on little trees. Marijuana, which grows like a weed, would be virtually worthless if legal. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who’ve built careers confusing drug prohibition’s tremendous collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

The big losers in this battle are the taxpayers who have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices.

The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug use can be found at and United Nations stats are at

Robert Sharpe,
Policy Analyst,
Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Washington, D.C.

McGregor’s wrong-headed letter

It seems like a new group of opportunistic propagandists finds a way to hitch its wagon to Earth Day each year, and this time around it was the animal-rights nuts pushing the envelope.

Not only were the claims in Charles McGregor’s recent anti-meat letter wrong-headed, but it wasn’t even his own letter to begin with (See “Cool your diet,” Letters, 4/17/08).

While the United Nations claims that global livestock production may account for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that here at home, domestic meat production only contributes 2.4 percent. Since American farmers are far more eco-friendly than their counterparts overseas, eating home-grown meat is a great way to be “green.”

More disturbing, however, is that Mr. McGregor’s letter — the same exact word-for-word message — also appeared in more than 50 other newspapers this month. In each case, a different “author” signed it. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s a program of the deceptive Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), a Maryland-based radical group which misleads countless Americans by hijacking hundreds of newspaper opinion pages every year.

There’s absolutely nothing environmentally unfriendly about eating a balanced diet, including meat and dairy foods. And anyone who wants to claim otherwise should articulate his own opinion instead of letting an agenda-driven form letter do the talking.

David Martosko,
Research Director, Center for Consumer Freedom
Washington, D.C.

Stupid prohibition

Maintaining expensive reefer madness drug laws by sacrificing public education shows that drugs can cause real insanity. The madness is in legislators, not drug users. The very idea of cutting education funds while one dollar is spent on a useless drug crusade that has failed for 94 straight years is true lunacy.

Claiming to “protect” children while destroying their futures shows how devastatingly stupid drug prohibition really is.

Ralph Givens,
Daly City

On presidential candidates

“Democracy is a very bad form of government, but all the others are so much worse.” So began an old TV show. Wise words for troubled times.

Our presidential possibilities clamor about, catterwalling caustic comments and nattering nabobs. They propose promises, knowing voters vacillate.

God bless democracy. I may not like the choices, but I have choices to make.

I miss laudable leadership that energizes the electorate. I miss a leader that can’t be bought, has morals, values and spiritual thought. I miss Mister Smith going to Washington.

These days candidates must be sassy on Saturday Night Live, jovial with Jay Leno and withstand wailings from the left, right and center. We put them under a magnifier and marvel if they pass through national nosiness. Yet, people still chose to run the race for the White House.

So, I choose to vote this November and urge others as well — even though we may end up with “the same old wine in a brand new bottle,” as Loggins and Messina sang.

J. Wortman,

Allow spring to flourish

This is a letter of complaint. It is written with outrage.

I am a citizen and a resident of Oxnard of many years.

Today, while driving, I noticed that Oxnard City employees were trimming trees. This is Spring, a time that birds are nesting. Some already feeding their hatchlings. From February through August, birds and other wild animals raise their young. The flowering branches that are trimmed off hold pollen and later seeds as food for insects and birds and for propagation. No sane, self respecting, civilized society allows such a cruel and senseless destruction of wildlife! As a resident and a taxpayer, I demand that this practice be stopped immediately and permanently! Furthermore, at the time from February through August, the use of pesticide against insects (birds’ food) that do no damage to crops should be forcefully forbidden.

My meeting with City employees the morning of 24th of April revealed their complete ignorance of the necessity to respect and protect the natural environment and not be destructive.

Their myopic, robot-like attitude considered only their job to cut trees to dictated specifications ignoring all other vital considerations.

Marta S. Hucall,