New York shouldn't allow use of medical marijuana

This letter is in response to the July 20 article in regard to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's sudden reconsideration to legalize medical marijuana in New York State. Just last fall he stated that the dangers of legalizing marijuana, even for medical purposes, outweighed the benefits. Why the sudden change of heart?

There has still had been no extensive research done that shows any remarkable benefits from the drug. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration recently stated, "medical marijuana has no accepted medical use, and should continue to be classified as a Schedule I drug." DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart states, "At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficiency."

While some government officials are eager to follow the states that have legalized medical marijuana, they should look at those states that are now considering repealing those laws. The dangers outweigh the benefits. Earlier this year, lawmakers in Montana were looking to repeal their medical marijuana law due to an influx in recreational pot use and illegal drug trade. Many other states are facing similar problems.

Cuomo should stick to his plan to reduce unnecessary spending instead of now increasing government costs by setting up new regulations and methods of distribution for medicinal marijuana. He needs to take a good, hard look at the facts before coming to the conclusion that New York State should become a marijuana distributor.

Megan Kunecki

Public Educator, Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Buffalo


Weather turning hostile due to climate change

Hot enough? This month, a giant heat wave hit 140 million Americans, making most of us miserable or worse. Some escape to air-conditioned spaces, while others just sweat it out. Sorry to say it, but this hot house is our own doing.

A few years ago, Europe suffered through a heat wave that killed 30,000 people. Last year, Russia baked, suffering massive forest fires and severe crop losses. This year it's our turn.

In the spring, the Mississippi River produced some of the worst flooding in a century. Then, during a three-day period in April, more than 200 tornados struck 16 states. Now we have suffered the "heat dome" of July, which ushered in blistering temperatures across much of the country. High humidity made it feel like 120 degrees in communities in Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota.

Weather is turning hostile, a fact fully consistent with scientists' predictions about climate change. While fossil-fuel interests have sought to hide the facts -- with lots of help from Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and other right-wing mouthpieces -- the scientific community has known for years that climate change is real, caused by burning fossil fuels, and is dangerous.

How many wake-up calls do we need? More to the point, do we really want to leave our children and grandchildren an inhospitable, overheated planet? We all should be acting aggressively to "cool down" our lifestyles and push our leaders to take action on all levels. To my knowledge, neither Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown nor Erie County Executive Chris Collins has ever mentioned climate change, let alone outlined a local plan for addressing it and, in so doing, create a local green economy. What are we waiting for?

Walter Simpson



Redistricting reform is needed right now

We ran for State Senate last year to bring good government to Albany, which is needed to improve the lives of people in our districts.

During election season last fall, our opponents pledged to support independent redistricting for New York's State Legislature and House of Representatives seats. However, in March, they voted for a bill that would delay redistricting reform for at least 10 years.

The failure of the current State Senate majority to enact redistricting reform protects gerrymandered Assembly seats in New York City. That's not good for upstate, only for incumbents concerned about having to compete on a level playing field.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Redistricting Reform Act of 2011 is important for upstate. It would require the Legislature to vote up or down on redistricting proposals drawn by an independent commission, not by incumbent majorities that have gerrymandered the state into problems over the years.

Politicians should not pick their voters. We join nonpartisan good government groups in calling on the State Senate to pass the governor's bill to end gerrymandering in a special session, soon. George Maziarz, Joe Robach and Pat Gallivan should keep their promise of redistricting reform now, not 10 years from now.

Cynthia Appleton

Robin Wilt

Amy Hope Witryol



Writer seems confused about German policies

In a recent letter, flawed comparisons were made between the U.S. debt crisis and German social and economic policies. In a nationalistic plea to stop U.S. assistance to immigrants, both legal and illegal, reference was made to a speech made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in October 2010 to a youth convention in Potsdam. In this speech, Merkel fired up the debate of the role of immigrants in Germany by stating that Germany should not be a land of immigration. Used to extend a debate on the role of immigrants in German society, these comments are in no way reflected in current German government policy.

Germany should be a model for the United States, but for very different reasons. Germany's lack of national debt is very common sense, but is not the sole reason for its economic success. German industries produce quality products, invest in innovation and new technologies and treat their workers and unions with dignity and respect. Germany is a leading advocate of cross-cultural European integration. It offers universal health care because it is considered a human right. Education is virtually free from grade school through university. Knowledge of foreign languages and of other cultures is valued. How well does all of this social welfare fit into our letter writer's tea cup?

Perhaps, with his anti-immigrant vitriol, the letter writer is confusing today's Germany with one of the past.

Fritz Schattauer



How much did Bachmann pay for medical advice?

So, Rep. Michele Bachmann sought out services from the "in house" medical doctor at the U.S. Capitol to answer questions about her migraine headaches. How much did she pay for that advice? Is that position on her list to eliminate to balance the budget?

Sandra W. Myers