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Letters to the editor

L.A.s new restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries; the facts on pot; the tablet will kill reading

January 31, 2010

Happy neighbors

Re “L.A. approves medical marijuana law,” Jan. 27

Thank you to the nine members of the City Council who had the courage to place restrictions on the out-of-control rise of "medical" marijuana dispensaries. In the last year, no fewer than seven of these dispensaries have cropped up within a two-block stretch of Ventura Boulevard in the West Valley. Are there really enough sick people here to warrant so many of these shops?

As the recent incident in Northridge demonstrates, these shops attract violent criminals. We don't need this in our neighborhoods.

Of course there were more medical marijuana supporters at the City Council's meeting than concerned citizens -- because these merchants have a financial stake in the outcome. But rest assured that homeowners, schools and places of worship are pleased that some government controls will be placed on these businesses very soon.

A. Dawson
Los Angeles

We should congratulate the City Council for pushing the price of cannabis into the stratosphere. Growers and dealers salute you . . . and thank you for your support.

This ordinance is just another poorly written compromise with reality. Weed is everywhere, and severely limiting the number of dispensaries only creates a larger black market to fill the gap.

Growers from all over California have been hearing about L.A. prices and are racing to bring their wares to the Southland.

It's unfortunate that the City Council doesn't understand the law of supply and demand or the basic history of prohibition.

Samuel Janovici
Kentfield, Calif.
The writer is a columnist for the West Coast Leaf, a newspaper advocating the legalization of marijuana.


Questions of fact

Re “Don’t legalize marijuana,” Opinion, Jan. 28

Skip Miller of D.A.R.E. America is entitled to his arcane opinions about marijuana, but his distortions of the truth are unacceptable.

Miller conveniently cites one physician's opinion that marijuana leads to cancer, but this belief is contradicted by research. Federally funded research on marijuana's health effects conducted at UCLA found that marijuana smoking does not lead to lung cancer. Moreover, a 2009 study published in the Cancer Prevention Research journal found that marijuana smokers actually have a lower risk of head and neck cancers than people who don't smoke marijuana.

Also, by comparing the societal costs of alcoholism, Miller tries to show that ending marijuana prohibition would bring on similar costs. But there's one major flaw in his reasoning: Marijuana is safer than alcohol, by every objective measure.

Miller and his prohibitionist ilk need to get their facts straight.

F. Aaron Smith
Santa Rosa, Calif.
The writer is California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.


Tablet temptations

Re “Make way for the tablet,” Opinion, Jan. 24

In his celebration of the Internet's assault on the printed page, cyber-phile Daniel Akst thumbs his nose at precisely the things that allow great journalism and literature to transcend the weary ordinariness of blogs, vanity publications and whoopee-cushion news reporting: what he calls "the whole rickety edifice of publishers, booksellers and agents."

Swell. The legions who take their morning news from (often-stolen) snippets on the Web and find, as Akst does, that books have a habit of being too darn long, will . . . will what? Be the new arbiters of taste and merit?

I would suggest that Akst and his cohorts be very, very careful about what they wish for, at least if they care about what they read. When "sparks fly," things burn. Rather too often, what burns are books.

Salve Libris!

Stephen Mattson
Los Osos, Calif.

Yes, books will be shorter, and dumber.

I tried the Kindle. It takes way too long to refresh a page, and heaven help you if you have to go back. Forget it for books like Carl Safina's "Voyage of the Turtle," which includes wonderfully enlightening maps and charts. And don't dare forget what you read about a character in a Russian novel.

Don't make the literate public feel they're behind the technology. The technology hasn't caught up with us.

Mark Hann
Canoga Park

I would guess that Akst grew up a reader of traditional print sources. He acquired the skills of concentration, self-motivated imagination and patience. Our children will miss out on these as books on screen destabilize reading practices.

And what will be there instead? All the stuff readers of print on the page eagerly searched for after reading a great book -- all diminished in the mad dash to the next, and then the next, stimulus.

Readers in the past researched; readers on screen surf. What else can we expect from a generation raised on video games and Twitter?

Gary W. Daily
Terre Haute, Ind.


Inglewood justice

Re “Inglewood mayor guilty of corruption,” Jan. 26

As the former fire chief for the city of Inglewood, it did my heart good to see "Emperor Dorn" knocked off his throne.

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