Who Wants Pot to Be Illegal?

Well, of course Big Pharma is against pot: if it were legal to grow one’s own medicine in one’s backyard—a medicine that is more effective than many painkillers, muscle relaxants and anxiety reducers and has fewer side effects—nobody would buy Big Pharma’s high-priced merchandise [Lee Fang, “The Anti-Pot Lobby’s Big Bankroll,” July 21/28]!

I live in Colorado, where marijuana sales are legal. Our crime rate is down, we have collected over $10 million in taxes, and we have freed the police to concentrate on real crime. Plus pot is safer than any other legal drug out there.

“One try and it can ruin your life,” says the man who will ruin your life if he catches you trying it.

Marijuana helps millions of people cope with sickness and pain. OxyContin is a scourge. I’ve had five friends die from OxyContin. Two more are doing prison time because of their addiction to it. Marijuana has never killed anyone. These companies have a vested interest in keeping cannabis illegal.
Jeff Williams

I went through a twelve-hour back surgery after a wreck. Nothing but pain for two years after. I was on Vicodin—a dreadful way to live. Decided to stop, and went through a week of shakes, pain and vomiting. Pot helped with the pain, but with none of the dreadful addictive consequences.

Police departments, courts, prisons, the DEA and a zillion other agencies feed off the illegal drug trade. With legal weed, we could drastically cut back on those agencies—but none of them want to legalize themselves out of a job.

BDS: Every Little Bit Helps

Noam Chomsky is undoubtedly right that a boycott campaign directed at Israel is not likely to work [“On Israel-Palestine and BDS,” July 21/28]. Nevertheless, his article was such a powerful indictment of Israel’s occupation, and of our government’s unstinting support of Israel, that it persuaded me to go on supporting the boycott—whether or not it works. No single tactic will change Israel’s ways or break its iron grip on Congress and US public opinion. If Israel can rain down bombs day after day on the poorest and most densely populated strip of territory on earth—killing thousands of people and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes—and still be defended by President Obama and the mainstream press, obviously much more than a boycott is needed. So in addition to supporting the boycott, I’ll go on writing letters to Congress and the White House urging an end to US aid to Israel, and supporting Middle East peace groups. If we keep up the pressure, something someday may work. Meanwhile, thanks to Chomsky for having done his part, and done it so eloquently, for all these years.
Rachelle Marshall
mill valley, calif.

On the Beach

I am so pleased that The Nation covered climate change via Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow’s review of five books on the subject [“Endgame?”, July 21/28]. The authors have varying attitudes, from alarmism and pessimism through optimism, fatalism, activism, concern and a vision of apocalypse. The livestock industry and its supporting industries contribute massively to greenhouse-gas accumulation. Researchers have calculated that anywhere from 18 to 51 percent of greenhouse gases are attributable to our appetite for meat and dairy. Even the lower value of 18 percent is greater than the production from all our cars, trucks and planes. We need to stop eating meat.
Len Frenkel
bethlehem, pa.

The question before humans is not so much can we limit our deleterious effect on the earth, but, as the reviewer suggests, why should we do so, since the earth is bigger and stronger and will have its way with us. But the ethical question is: Do human beings, endowed with consciousness, have the right to use this consciousness to perfect the mechanisms of destruction—be they nuclear or carbon-based? Don’t we, as sentient creatures who might someday become aware of who we are and what our purpose is, also have a moral obligation to evolve, to do no harm? That is what highly evolved consciousness in all traditions—secular, scientific and spiritual—teaches us.
Karen Malpede
brooklyn, n.y.

I loved Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow’s review of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember by Annalee Newitz, because I, too, am interested in the long view of history, geological change, the origins of life and human evolution. Newitz is quite right that dramatic climate change has occurred repeatedly on earth, even in the course of human history, and that humanity will survive the climate change we are driving. But that misses the point. Most people don’t really care whether there will be humans on the planet in a few hundred years. We care whether we, our children and our neighbors will survive the next year or couple of decades, and whether our smartphones will connect to the Internet.

When a species exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment, nature brings it back into balance through a population collapse. We are about to experience another collapse. My guess is that at least three-quarters of the population will die, much sooner and more suddenly than most of us imagine. Although climate change is the driving force, famine, war, disease and natural disasters will be the immediate causes. Humanity will survive, but most humans won’t, and neither will their smartphones. So go ahead and worry. We’re in for a very unpleasant time.

Tim Joseph
ithaca, n.y.

Son of Deadline Poet

I have taken the liberty of adding two verses to “Deadline Poet” Calvin Trillin’s July 21/28 “William Kristol’s Credentials as an Iraq Expert” (the first verse here is his):

Bill Kristol predicted a war of two months.
It’s lasted, we know, somewhat longer.
So, even including his chicken-hawk pals,
Has anyone ever been wronger?

Wolfowitz said it would pay for itself,
But at 3 trillion dollars and counting,
We’d have to say he was as wrong as old Bill,
And the cost keeps on steadily mounting.

Dick Cheney weighed in with the “fact” that Iraq
Had no past of sectarian strife.
This is one of the very most fact-challenged things
He has said in his fact-challenged life!

Brian Kemble
san francisco