Political leaders have to get over their cannabis hangups

Saturday, March 2, 2013
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Political leaders have to get over their cannabis hangups

Re Feb. 23 article, “County facing challenges, says leader”: I would dispute the findings of John Thayer, Republican chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

I’m sure that Thayer is troubled by the number of people in our communities who choose to consume cannabis. But I can remember a time when employers rarely imposed drug tests on job seekers. Today, that invasive practice is widely viewed as routine.

When evidence of marijuana use is found in a person’s body, it usually does not prove they are impaired at that moment. So I think it’s exceedingly unfair to deny so many people jobs because they can’t pass drug tests.

Exactly 80 years ago, lawmakers ended an expensive Prohibition targeting the producers, sellers and consumers of alcohol. In 2013, federal officials are again debating the repeal of a failed policy: the 75-year prohibition of cannabis hemp and marijuana plants.

Aside from the unemployment caused by drug testing, strict marijuana laws shackle many nonviolent citizens with criminal records and require taxpayers to shell out billions each year for police, court and prison costs. With budget problems abounding in most states, critics say it defies logic to maintain anti-marijuana spending priorities.

Thayer could at least look to federal leaders who support the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. Its passage would allow farmers to grow cannabis hemp crops, which produce non-narcotic seeds, pulp and durable fibers for manufacturing purposes.

If New York gets in on that impending “green rush,” local officials and developers could fix up and put back on the tax rolls large industrial properties, from Canajoharie to Amsterdam, that have been idle for ages. Job seekers across Montgomery County could find work in new hemp factories and businesses — ideally without being forced to take drug tests.

Please be aware of the movement to legalize cannabis, Mr. Thayer, and stop worrying about personal choices that are not nearly as dangerous as you claim.

Lawrence Goodwin


Will wrong: sequester cuts will hit home hard

Re Feb. 24 George Will column, “Sequester just another manufactured ‘crisis’”: Though George Will claims that the public is “crying ‘hamster,’” I think this time, the wolf is here.

The sequester is no joke, despite the recent claims that this will be yet another government cut.

Will’s jeremiad that the public is overreacting is sure to backfire when the spending cuts affect education, energy and medical research, three topics that directly affect those worrying.

Though the cuts will be just over the amount given to hurricane victims, this sequester means that those affected by the next Sandy might be out of luck.

Though cuts have been exaggerated in the past, the country is not as it was, and this should not be treated like the supposed end of the Mayan calendar.

The sequester is the meat cleaver, and we’re all on the chopping block.

Libby Aliberti


Obama deserves all the snipes he’s been getting

The recent spate of letters with liberals and conservatives sniping at one another only proves the divisiveness this president has inflicted on the country. The president, who vowed to unite the country in his 2008 campaign, has polarized the nation reminiscent of the Nixon administration.

The animus towards President Obama is due in large part to his lack of leadership. He came into office with no academic legacy, authoring no significant legislation, a mediocre state senator and a one-term U.S. senator. But with the liberal media in his corner, their protective walls make him impervious to any scrutiny.

He continues to blame Bush, embarrassingly, into his second term, and his supporters chant along almost as a mantra. And somehow, 51 percent of the 2012 vote is seen a great majority, a mandate by his supporters.

We’ve elected a man who is not the great communicator (see what happens without the ubiquitous teleprompter), nor the great unifier, but one who is woefully in way over his head.

Barbara Hyatt

Caroga Lake

Don’t use OT, vacation to boost state pensions

With all due respect to the Feb. 22 editorial, “The real problem with the pension fund,” there is another very real problem with the fund.

It is the loophole that allows top-ranking people in the fund to add overtime, vacation leave, etc., on to their last year income to gain an annual pension above the intended benefit.

This issue has been exposed for years, but as only the lowly taxpayers are suffering, little has been done. Perhaps if this problem were also brought to the attention of the masses by the media, another problem might be solved.

Gene Whitney


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March 2, 2013
9:04 a.m.
Will1960 says...

Great letter Mr. Goodwin! As more states opt to legalize marijuana, the politicians will slowly get on board with the public's sentiments concerning the prohibition of pot. The points you raise about the unfairness of drug testing may take longer to correct. Gov. Cuomo resistance to pass even is medical marijuana bill is proof that he still supports the old school position that he will be viewed as soft-on-crime if he does the sensible thing of passing such a bill. If 18 other states have figured out how to implement MM, why can't New York State?

Until the federal ban that identifies pot as a schedule I drug is lifted, we must point out and put pressure on our elected officials' antiquated reefer madness views while supporting those leaders who have the courage and common sense to put forth legislation to end this ridiculous and draconian policy.

March 2, 2013
10:16 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Lawrence Goodwin, there are drug tests because if an employee is in a car accident with a company vehicle and somebody dies. They do a urinalisis and they are positive for canibinoids (marijuana). Guess who gets the multi million dollar lawsuit? The company. If the drug is illegal and you are using it, you are breaking the law and you are at risk of not getting a job or losing a job or going to jail. Thats life.

March 2, 2013
11:03 a.m.
jjhehir says...

There are fundamentally two ways to cut the federal budget: the smart way and the stupid way. The feds have chosen the stupid way. But, keep your eye on the ball, the budget is being cut.

March 2, 2013
12:02 p.m.
Will1960 says...


The only case in the Capital Region where an employee drove a company car and killed someone while driving drunk was George Donnelly who killed Michele Martin in 1982. The company(In this case NY State) Mr. Donnelly worked for was never penalized and he was sentenced to 5 to 15 years. Give me an example or show me the law the supports your claim that a compnay is liable when one of their drivers tests positive for drugs after crashing the company vehicle.

March 2, 2013
2:44 p.m.
louisdearaujo says...

Excellent letter by Mr. Gene Whitney, regarding the use of OT to boost a state pension. It's just wrong. Wonder how the Governor feels on this issue, that costs the state tax payers year after year, even when the state worker has long retired.

March 2, 2013
3:52 p.m.
wmarincic says...

will1960 we recently fired a person who was delivering for our company and was pulled over for smoking a joint. This person put our company and 110 employees at risk.
Marijuana Use Increases Risk of Traffic Crashes and Deaths

A meta-analysis was conducted using nine epidemiological studies of motor vehicle collisions that measured recent cannabis use and also included control groups. Experimental and simulation studies were excluded.

The results indicated that driving under the influence of cannabis was associated with a 92% increased risk of vehicular crashes. Important is the fact that such driving was associated with a 110% increase in fatal crashes.

It appears that the public is generally unaware of the significant risk of marijuana use to trafic accidents and deaths.

We have made great strides in reducing alcohol-related traffic crashes and fatalities. We must continue doing so. But we must also be direct our preventive efforts to additional major causes of vehicular deaths, including marijuana use and cell phone use.

March 2, 2013
4:02 p.m.
gazettereader says...

Would you also fire anyone caught eating while driving, since it causes more accidents than marijuana?

March 2, 2013
5:34 p.m.
Will1960 says...

We live in a society that encourages its citizens to drink on every ocassion while the alcohol industry spends billions to promote its product as healthy, cool and seductive. The only education most people get about alcohol are the misleading commercials that tout its virtues. Marijuana is the big red herring to distract the public from the dangers of alcohol. Why do you suppose the alcohol industry for many years has been one of the biggest contributers to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America? For every impaired driver arrested for pot, how many dozens of DWIs do you read about in the media?

March 3, 2013
7:22 a.m.
muggy says...

Just for the record. Sequestration is a reduction in INCREASES. Only in Washington can you call a reduction in a scheduled increase, a cut. And if sequestration is raising such a stink, just wait until the end of March and the real battle to raise the debt ceiling. We forget that Obama (and Bush before him) raised the "baseline spending" of the U.S. government by over $1.2 trillion dollars. Obama used the lure of providing a one time "stimulus" to the U.S. economy. But people tend to forget that the "one-time" $800 billion dollars is embedded into all future budgets. So it was not a one-time expenditure. It raised the baseline spending of the U.S. in perpetuity. I suppose no one would propose a reset to 2008 spending levels. Even that wouldn't be a cut. It would mark a return to previous spending levels. We have lost the language. A reduction in an increase is now called a cut, when spending actually goes up. Crazy. Reality will soon hit us. Hard.

March 4, 2013
5:33 p.m.
robbump says...

Marijuana is illegal because it's bad.
It's bad, 'cause it's illegal!
Time for that old dog to stop chasing its tail!

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