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Letters to the Editor 

I think our society's puritan norms are the real issue as far as marijuana prohibition goes.

We tend to have the morality and mores of "the norm," enforced with legislation instead of outreach. A heroin addict is seldom helped by drug laws, instead he becomes a man who is imprisoned because of his illness. His only crime is addiction.

If one would take this logical observation and apply it to lesser drugs such as marijuana, one might find we are using the law to force people into the consumption of the legal and more socially acceptable drugs such as alcohol. Alcohol has worried us far less, but it's done more damage than marijuana.

Marijuana has been consumed by every major culture in the world, even some more conservative cultures such as some Muslim cultures in the Middle East. There, alcohol is considered the devil's drug, while hash (a more potent form of weed) is a drug legally sold and consumed in many coffee shops.

So is banning marijuana a matter of protecting the public? Or is it a matter of enforcing the majority's mindset on those few people in our country who realize the real reason pot is illegal? I refuse to let someone else tell me that their drug is better just because it's legal. Alcohol has cost me everything I hold dear, and destroyed my life as well as the lives of many others, yet it remains legal.

So in reality, due to our cultural inability to accept and truly include diversity, we have made a point of incarcerating people for harvesting and utilizing an herb that grows wild in most parts of our country. Peace, love and unity.

H. Lee Stamey

Spokane, Wash.

Here we go again: Needed! Community-empowerment zone designation described by John Webster of The Spokesman-Review and introduced by Rep. Jeff Gombosky. Throw in the medium income range and a few localities, i.e., East Central, West Central, Hillyard, Peaceful Valley, Downtown and portions of the South Hill... South Hill? Yeeks! This covers two thirds of the City. River Park Square was supposed to provide a specified number of "new" jobs -- higher paying? The downtown core -- the gerrymandered 3rd District -- for years supported Tom Foley. It was always used as a campaigning tool but neglected when it was time to bring home the bacon.

The only bacon sent home from Congress nurtured elite organizations while so-called poverty in this area remained the same. One of the realities of life is that we are going to have poverty levels in these United States simply because people accept their "comfort level," and neither editorials nor political twaddle will change that fact.

Several years ago, Spokane needed a Foreign Trade Zone designation to assist in economic development. I can only guess where the lead rhetoric originated for public consumption. Well, we got the designation, but to date nothing has been done to utilize that anointment. Editors and elected officials are not thinking of the best interest for Spokane, in my opinion, beyond the "keeping my job" syndrome.

If ever an economic summit was needed, it is not at G-8 (in Genoa, Italy), but here in Spokane to discuss the economic benefits of city/county consolidation. This would eliminate those feelgood editorials and piecemeal bills introduced once a decade in the legislature for self-serving purposes. The time for change is NOW!

Edward Thomas, Jr.

Spokane, Wash.

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