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Marijuana prohibition? has been a huge failure

I am writing in regard to Donn Esmonde's Nov. 10 column, "It's high time we started legalizing pot."

If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize Mexican drug cartels, prohibition is a success. The drug war distorts supply-and-demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees. There is a reason you don't see drug cartels sneaking into national forests to cultivate tomatoes and cucumbers. They cannot compete with legitimate farmers.

If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to deter use, prohibition is a failure. The United States has double the rate of use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. Spain legalized personal use cultivation and has lower rates of use. Portugal decriminalized all drugs and still has lower rates of use than the United States. If anything, marijuana prohibition increases use by creating forbidden fruit appeal.

Thanks to public education, tobacco use has declined, without any need to criminalize smokers or imprison farmers. This drop in the use of one of the most addictive drugs available occurred despite widespread tobacco availability. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who have built careers confusing the drug war's tremendous collateral damage with a plant.

Robert Sharpe

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

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Mess at CIA reads ?like a spy thriller

This is one thriller that even Erle Stanley Gardner couldn't come up with! America's top spy, a retired four-star general, engaged in a dalliance with a woman who has been alive slightly longer than he has been married who by the way is also his biographer. Then there's the Florida socialite with a twin sister who is engaged in a bitter custody battle. Now to further confuse things, along comes general number two (active), who is acquainted with the previous players and is in serious cyberspace with the woman being harassed by the spy's paramour. All this comes to a head when the FBI investigates the CIA. The biographer has classified material, someone knows the comings and goings of high-placed officials and Congress and the White House were kept in the dark. What a plot! Where's Erle?

Denny Cox

Buffalo

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Individuals have the power ?to enact large-scale change

The goal of saving our planet's polluted environment appears daunting or impossible to the individual. For many people, such a large goal seems out of their control. We've all heard it a million times: "What difference will it make if I recycle this can?" "What difference will it make if only I use clean energy, when my neighbor isn't?" Ironically, if every person who doubted the possibility of his personal impact actually recycled or used clean energy, we would be living on a less-threatened Earth.

I can understand that individuals have a hard time grappling with large-scale change. However, each of us has an individual will, and the ability to act on it. Our actions through human history show that we're capable of creating large-scale change, whether physical change or social change. Within just the last couple of hundred years, the United States eradicated slavery and gave women historically unparalleled rights. Humans can circumnavigate the world from the safety of motorized vehicles, and have invented ways to speak to each other in real time across oceans.
Individuals caused these changes. Some of these achievements were unfathomable at the turn of the 19th century, and yet here we are in a completely different social and physical environment.

We have, as a planet, realized that our environment is threatened. As individuals, let's not wait until the effects of environmental pollution come to our backyard, as it unfortunately did for many unlucky enough to be in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Let's look ahead to the future, and change our social values and habits about environmental pollution, so that we have a chance to physically change our social environment.

Irene Rekhviashvili

Buffalo

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Say Yes to Education is? great for at-risk students

I applaud the exciting financial incentive program to help motivate City of Buffalo students to graduate from high school. From what I have read, the millions in donations will be utilized for tuition payments. A certain percentage of the city's high school students will graduate without any extra motivation it is just a given for them and they will benefit from this generous bonus.

However, my concern lies with the at-risk students for whom graduation is not a given. They will need more than tuition aid. Say Yes to Education will provide multilevel support services tutoring, counseling, social work for their families, etc. This holistic approach will be very advantageous to students who are least likely to graduate.

Ginger B. Maiman

Buffalo

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Five years for a punch, ?but only one for a death?

The scales of justice have gone way beyond just being askew, they have been completely knocked off their mooring. A low/middle class black female receives a five-year prison sentence for punching an elderly white woman in the face, which undoubtedly caused some physical and emotional trauma, yet did not have a life-threatening or lethal outcome.

An upper-class, renowned white physician driving home under the influence runs down an innocent white teenage girl, resulting in her death, and receives a one-year prison sentence. I admit I am not the brightest bulb on the tree, so I need someone to explain to me the ethical, legal and moral logic implemented in arriving at the decisions surrounding the outcome of the two aforementioned criminal acts.

John V. Hari

Lackawanna

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GOP should embrace? offer of spending cuts

After this last election, it has become abundantly clear that the "takers" now outnumber and outvote the rest of us. One might ask what I mean by the word "taker"; a taker is an individual who over some period has received more from the federal government than he has paid or can ever hope to pay in taxes.
The rest of us are left with little ammunition for this battle. My suggestion to the Republican Party: take one step back in order to take two steps forward. During this last election cycle, nearly every Democrat running for federal office claimed their opponents (the GOP) would be unwilling to accept $10 in spending cuts for every $1 raised in tax revenue. Rather than fight tooth and nail and appear to be obstructionists, embrace their offer.

Options are very limited at this point. Does anyone know the number of a Realtor in Ohio?

Frederick William Kintzel IV

Lancaster