December 6-12, 2006

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Letters to the Editor

Legalize it

Dale Gieringer is right ("Dark Green," Nov. 29). All of the problems with illegal marijuana-growing operations--and there are plenty--are the direct result of prohibition.

If marijuana were regulated and taxed in the same manner as alcoholic beverages, all of the environmental, labor and other rules that apply to other sorts of agricultural production could be applied to marijuana growers. The environment would be protected, workers would be safer and consumers would get a better product. And police could stop wasting time on marijuana "eradication," which will never be more successful than was the eradication of booze during Prohibition.

Prohibition of alcohol didn't stop Americans from drinking, but it did make gangsters like Al Capone rich. Prohibition of marijuana has simply repeated that unhappy experience.

Bruce Mirken, Marijuana Policy Project, Washington, D.C.

Neat bit of self-promo

I read with considerable interest your story about the raids on marijuana plantations in Bay Area parks ("Dark Green" ). But I'd like to point out that there's more to the story after yours ends; somebody has to clean up the site, restore stream beds and take out the trash. Managers of public lands rarely have the budget to do this themselves, so they call upon volunteer groups to do the work. You can hear about what happens next in edition No. 19 of my podcast The WildeBeat, titled "Restoring a Park Gone to Pot." You can download the show at

Steve Sergeant, San Jose

And yet more

A national debate on the potential dangers posed by elderly drivers has been sparked by the case of George Weller, the elderly man who drove his car through a farmers market, killing 10 people and injuring another 68 in the worst traffic accident in California state history. Weller, 89, recently received a sentence of five years probation; he is bedridden.

Many of the factors that make driving hazardous for seniors are difficult to diagnose and/or correct. These include slower reflexes, physical impairments, chronic disease and the effects of medications. One that can be easily diagnosed and treated is the decrease in visual ability.

A vision exam at the DMV, which tests only for a 20/40 visual acuity with or without glasses, is not sufficient to ensure that elderly drivers are safe drivers. These exams will likely miss other potential threats to driving ability that could be identified and treated or corrected during a comprehensive vision exam by an optometrist.

It is easy to locate a qualified optometrist by logging on to the California Optometric Association website ( and clicking on the "Find an Eye Doc" link.

Karen Griffith, O.D., Petaluma

From the archives

I greatly appreciated Clark Wolf's article about community gardens (Napkin Notes, Sept. 13). These gardens don't just teach, as Wolf writes, "where zucchini comes from"; they also help people develop relationship skills with their fellow gardeners, which engenders a real sense of working together, peacefully, for a common good. Gardens also heal people on many levels.

I feel discouraged, frustrated and scared because precious, life-supporting land is being turned into building lots due to overpopulation. People (and animals, birds, sea creatures and others) need wilderness to be nearby and accessible, not an hour's drive away.

It is our connection to nature that returns us to our higher selves. Our society's soul has been sickened, with predictable and unhealthy results as seen in the high rate of crime, drug abuse, dysfunctional relationships, cancer, etc. Gardens, therapy, communication classes and spiritual guidance would be much more effective than those surveillance cameras now everywhere in downtown Santa Rosa.

I feel so saddened by the high level of denial our society has about the fact that we live on a planet of quickly diminishing resources that we have polluted and exploited. I encourage all of us to help create a better world for the children who are already here and to stop after having one biological child. Adopt, co-parent, help a single parent, be a godparent.

Barbara Daugherty, Cotati

Mustiest of all

Re Gabe Meline's Mac Dre article ("Feeling Himself," Jan. 4): I think that this article is amazing. I have a project due in a few weeks and have been thinking about how to start this paper. I already know I want to do it on Mac Dre, but I just can't put it in words how much he means to me. His lyrics are so straightforward and from the heart it's insane, his ability to create a whole new vocabulary and way of sayin' things that has stayed around for so long. Mac Dre will always be remembered. Stuff that he put out will stay with us forever. To know that someone as great as him walked on this earth just two states away from me amazes me. I just want to say thank you for doing a story about him, and it still shocks me how many loyal fans he has to stay with him forever. I plan on driving to California and visiting his grave site.

Well. I'm in class, and your article almost made me cry, so I'm gonna keep on lookin' for stuff on him . . .

One of a Million Loyal Fans, via e-mail

Good luck on that project. And hey!--stay in school, cuz it's a great place to read year-old Bohemian's online.

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