Letter writer Luke Adams is apparently unfamiliar with the current research on marijuana (â€śWhatâ€™s a Safe Drug?â€ť letters, Aug. 3). His claims of such harmful effects as depression, psychosis and lung cancer have all been quite thoroughly debunked by unbiased researchers.
In a report issued earlier this year, the British governmentâ€™s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugsâ€”consisting of scientists from that nationâ€™s most high-powered institutionsâ€”concluded, â€śThe most recent data are not, overall, persuasive of a causal association between cannabis use and depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.â€ť Indeed, much research suggests that marijuana may be a useful treatment for these disorders. The same report found that marijuana â€śmakes (at worst) only a small contribution to an individualâ€™s risk for developing schizophrenia,â€ť while other researchers have noted that even periods of exponential increase in marijuana use were followed by no discernible increase in rates of mental illness.
As for the issue of lung cancer, UCLA researcher Dr. Donald Tashkin recently reported the latest in a long series of studies showing that even the heaviest marijuana smokers show no increased risk of lung cancer. Indeed, the marijuana smokers in Tashkinâ€™s study had lower rates of lung cancer than non-smokersâ€”perhaps because (as documented in more research than space allows me to mention) THC and other cannabinoids in marijuana have been shown to selectively kill cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact..
Yes, some people get into trouble with marijuana, as some do with any â€śrecreationalâ€ť drug, and a degree of caution and common sense are always advisable. But we already get so much â€śreefer madnessâ€ť nonsense from our government that we really donâ€™t need to go repeating it among ourselves.
Â Â Â Â Bruce Mirken
Â Â Â Â Director of Communications
Â Â Â Â Marijuana Policy Project
Â Â Â Â Washington, D.C. 20013
Pot Dealers in the Haight
On Tuesday, Aug. 8, the supes approved an ordinance that will allow two illegally operating â€śmedical cannabis dispensariesâ€ť to remain in existence for another 11 months. The vote was nine to one, with Sean Elsbernd dissenting (Fiona Ma was absent).
The issue came up because of the Vapor Room (in the Lower Haight) and the Re-Leaf Center (on Folsom Street). Both dealers have continued to operate in areas zoned as residential-mixed, which is illegal under the supesâ€™ original pot bill passed last year.
Ross Mirkarimi, sponsor of todayâ€™s measure, said much â€śdisinformationâ€ť had been spread on the issue. The intent of the ordinance passed year, he said, was for all existing clubs to be recognized retroactively.
But an oversight occurred in the case of the Vapor Room and the Re-Leaf Center. â€śThey should have the same benefits of the others,â€ť he argued. However, at hearings last year, it was pointed out that some dealers would have to close because they would be in violation of the ordinanceâ€™s zoning requirements.
Mirkarimi, the sponsor of that bill as well, publicly acknowledged such a consequence as part of the compromise in getting the ordinance passed. Nonetheless, he tried earlier this year to rezone the Lower Haight in favor of the Vapor Room but withdrew the measure in the face of resistance from neighbors. No one at todayâ€™s meeting made any mention at all of the testimony of neighbors who live near the Vapor Room. They complained at an earlier committee meeting that the Vapor Room increased congestion, dirt, noise, abuse, and secondary dealing in the neighborhood. But todayâ€™s public record made no mention of their experiences.
To the contrary, Mirkarimi (in order to satisfy certain legal requirements) added an amendment to his measure stating that proposed changes are â€śconsistent with the General Planâ€ť and that they serve â€śthe public necessity, convenience and welfare.â€ť Which is an outrageous insult to neighbors who spoke before the committee.
Todayâ€™s meeting was an impressive example of the ability of the narco lobby to bend the cityâ€™s politicians (except for Elsbernd) to their will. Under the guise of providing marijuana to patients with acute medical needs, the narco lobby has opened the cityâ€™s neighborhoods to an industry that pays no taxes and keeps no records, and uses a bogus system of â€śmedical marijuana cardsâ€ť to sell pot to anyone indiscriminately. In addition, the industry flouts labor laws, environmental standards, and (now) zoning regulations. The tobacco industry must be green with envy.
Higher Cab Fares?
So the taxi drivers want to increase their already high fares, among the highest in the nation. Perhaps their income could be increased and the public could be better served by increasing their business. Letâ€™s have a centralized telephone dispatching service where all cabs would have a chance to respond to a fare instead of having only one companyâ€™s cabs notified as to the pickup. The dispatchers could be paid by a prorated charge to the taxi companies. The number should be easily be remembered, like 111-1111, so that the average person could call on the street and have a cab respond at once, not having to see several cabs of other companies go by while waiting for the cab of the company you called to arrive.
SF Supes: State Dept Must Condemn Female Stoning Deaths in Iran
At the San Francisco Board of Supervisorsâ€™ meeting this week, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, an all-around good guy and veteran progressive advocate who just happens to be Iranian American, introduced this resolution for consideration by his colleagues.
The supervisors now have one week to weigh the merits of it, and the resolution will come up for debate and vote at the next full board meeting, Aug. 15. If you live in San Francisco, contact your supervisor and ask him or her to vote for this crucial resolution.
For people who donâ€™t reside here, please ask your local city council or state and federal elected officials to pass similar resolutions, or lobby them to issue statements calling on the U.S. State Department to immediately deplore the potential female stonings and other pending executions in Iran.
I wish to call everyoneâ€™s attention to the efforts of Lily Mazahery, an Iranian American lawyer advocating to save the lives of women in Iran facing death by stoning.
Mazahery has launched a web site about these women, http://savemalak.googlepages.com/icasenglish) and has also interviewed the lawyer for Ashraf Kolhari, and the transcript of their talk is posted at http://savemalak.googlepages.com/ashraf
Please feel free, and I emphatically encourage you, to get the word out that now is the time to open our mouths and say, in loud and clear voices, â€śNo stoning of women!â€ť
A big thank you to Ross Mirkarimi, the other Supervisors, the many City Hall staffers and the Mayor, who have all expended political capital and energy on behalf of ending all executions in Iran and the USA. Let this resolution from San Francisco be the first of many across the land.
I am amazed why Halloween in the Castro is not being canceled. Itâ€™s no longer a â€śgay eventâ€ť promoted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Itâ€™s become a huge party for out of towners from the East Bay, the Peninsula, and Silicon Valley. Itâ€™s also become guranteed gay bashing and stabbing for the locals. What does San Francisco get out of it?
I have marched in seven Pride Parades, two dyke marches and a tranny march. I am a strong supporter of human rights. But Halloween in the Castro is just too crowded, too dangerous, and too homophobic (biphobic and transphobic as well). I almost got smashed at the event a couple of years ago. People come in drunk before the event and many of the attendees are under 18.
I have been yelled at and screamed at by people in the Mayorâ€™s office because they refused to hear complaints about Halloween in the Castro and called me ignorant. One person in the Mayorâ€™s office said that gay bashings and stabbings go on daily and why should Halloween be any different. How rude and apathetic!
Part of my tax money goes to subsidize Halloween in the Castro.
In brief, if some people in San Francisco want a Halloween Festival they should find some corporate beer sponsors to subsidize the event. They should also have a planning committee and organize the event a year in advance, just like Pride. Organize it and fund it or get rid of it before the City has another wrongful death lawsuit on its hands.
Who Are We Cheering For?
Because I value and appreciate our communityâ€™s passion for justice and fair play (and have, myself, worked for our freedom for decades), I am writing the Bay Times (subsequent to positive feedback to a thread on ba-sappho) with a request that those concerned with the current crisis in the Middle East take more care for the diversity of opinion and outlook in our commmunity when publicizing events such as rallies and demonstrations. I find myself questioning the appropriateness of promoting events slanted toward support of organizations known to be violently anti-woman and homophobic. I find it alarming in general that programs, rallies and demonstrations in the Bay Area around a Middle East ceasefire, calls to take part in which are submitted for publication in the Bay Times, seem to be increasingly less about peace and more about supporting violent radical Islamist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.
It should be pointed out that Hezbollahâ€™s philosophy about the very existence of Israel is that any land ever conquered by Muslims belongs to Muslims, and that Israel should therefore not exist. Hamas has the elimination of Israel as a goal in its charter, and has recently announced that it intends to reinstitute the dominance/submission institution of dhimmitude, specifically the jizya tax on non-Muslims.
Hezbollahâ€™s supporters in the current Iranian ruling regime have been entrapping, torturing and executing young gay men. All Islamist groups support honor killings of rape victims, who are presumed guilty of being responsible for their rapes unless they can produce four male witnesses on their behalf.
Inflammatory language, such as boilerplate about â€śthe Assault on Lebanon and Occupied Gaza,â€ť completely finesses the fact that Israel withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, only to face assault in the form of missile launches into areas occupied by civilians. One point of viewâ€”and your mileage may varyâ€”is that Israel has a right of self-defense to eliminate such threats. Any honest discussion of the current crisis would take that into account. Instead, some posts on ba-sappho and letters to the Bay Times urging women to go hear â€śactivistsâ€ť at a speak-out, or take part in a demonstration, appear to presuppose that any conscious woman of ethics will align herself with the supporters of Islamism, including those who chanted about freeing Palestine â€śfrom the river to the seaâ€ť outside the Israeli consulate recently.
Because it should be apparent that women of good will can and do disagree on these issues, and because those critical of Israel run the risk of allying themselves with people who want to enslave women and murder lesbians, I requested that the ba-sappho List Mom moderate posts promoting such events on what is, after all, a pro-lesbian list for pro-lesbian events. Likewise, I ask those in the community organizing for peace to truly organize for peace, without promoting homophobic patriarchal militarist bodies in the process. Many possible elements of a lasting, peaceful solution have been propounded for years; I would hope our community would promote peace with freedom for women and queers.
Thank you for your consideration and good will.
Israel Is A Sham Democracy
James Keeferâ€™s letter in the Aug. 3 Bay Times (â€śWhoâ€™s Responsible?â€ť) suggests an interesting justification for collective punishment. If the Lebanese or the Palestinians elect a government that Israel does not like, then Israel has the right to punish the electorate, those that voted for, and even those that voted against! This novel argument goes against all common sense, and international law. It is simply preposterous!
In an article published in the International Herald Tribune on Aug. 3, Peter Bouchaert reported that Israel is consciously and intentionally targeting civilians, including children, the old and the infirm. In his article, he quoted Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon: â€śAll those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollahâ€ť. There have been numerous other reports pointing to the fact that Israel is committing war crimes. We are complicit in this. I dont know about the rest of your readers, but I am not prepared to become a war criminal to support Israel.
Israel is in the midst of its moral self-destruction. Israel is a real problem for the US, and specially for American Jews. It is using the Jewish experience to shield itself from criticism (accusing critics of anti-Semitism). The Israeli Lobby is currently running our foreign policy in the region, as has been well documented, most recently by Mearscheimer and Walt at Harvard. Isarel routinely tortures and degrades Palestinians, as documented by Norman Finkelstein in his excellent and readable recent book: â€śChutzpah: The politics of anti-Semitismâ€ť. Israel neocon lobbyists are teaching us to hate and fear Arabs and Muslims, and dragging us into war to make us complicit, and to create self-fulfilling prophecies.
In its Saturday, Aug. 5 Chronicle issue (Saturday is traditionally the slowest day of the week), buried in page A-5, is a report that 911 Commission censored its conclusion that unconditional US support for Israel was a reason behind 911. The commission was to have suggested that we rethink our foreign policy. This explosive finding of a link between Israel and 911 by the 911 Commission was clearly scorched by the Israel Lobby.
The heart for the problem between Israel and its neighbors goes to the inequality under law, between Jews and non-Jews in Israel. Two people, one Jewish and the other a non-Jew, can live side by side in Israel and the non-Jew is forever inferior under law, and unable to ever change his state of inferiority by any means. Think about it, if you were the non-Jew: what would you naturally do, except to reject and resist, and demand equal rights? This type of racism cannot be the basis for a democracy, it is unnatural and leads directly to apartheid. The US constitution holds it self-evident that all men are born equal under law. The Israeli constitution declares that Jews are born forever superior. Israel is a sham democracy, and threatens to cause us irrevocable damage. It is time there was more discussion of Israel as a clear and present danger to our country, and our way of life.
The Real Obstacle to Peace
The distinction Badruddin Khan makes between Judaism and Zionism (â€śPeaceful Israel?,â€ť letters, Aug. 3,) reveals what is the real obstacle to peace between Israel and its Arab neighborsâ€“the refusal by radical Islamic quasi-political groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and their financial and military benefactors in Iran and Syria, to accept the legitimacy and existence of the state of Israel. So long as these state and political actors have as their goal the elimination of â€śthe Zionist entityâ€ť in their midst, there is very little Israel can do to advance peace in the region. Israel cannot negotiate a two-state political solution with the Palestinians if their elected representatives in Hamas refuse to even sit down at a negotiating table with them because they do not recognize Israel as a legitimate nation.
Like the militants in Hamas and Hezbollah, Khan apparently believes that it is Israelâ€™s very existence that is the problem and cause of all the strife in the region, yet the facts do not bear this out. For example, Khan incorrectly asserts that â€śIsrael is not peaceloving [and] is intent on systematically expanding its territory.â€ť In fact, Israel has made territorial accommodations with its enemies and made movements towards peace with its neighbors by pulling troops out of south Lebanon in 2000, and removing settlers from the Gaza Strip and returning the land to the Palestinians in 2005. For these efforts, Israel has been rewarded with missile attacks across its borders, invasions of its territory, and the kidnapping and killing of its soldiers. Who is â€śpeacelovingâ€ť now?
Khan correctly notes that many of the Zionists who founded modern Israel â€śwere in fact secular Jews.â€ť Indeed, it is because of the Zionistsâ€™ vision of a non-religious state that modern Israel was founded on the principles of secular democracy that thankfully today recognizes and advances a wide range of civil rights for gays and lesbians, as well as womenâ€™s rights, and stands in stark contrast to the repressive and homophobic Arab theocracies and other regimes surrounding it. For example, gay Palestinians from the West Bank have sought political refuge in Israel to escape persecution and violence from the Palestinian security apparatus and their own families, knowing they can live a freer and more open life in Israel. Last summer, two gay teenage boys in Iran were hung in a public square on charges of violating Islamic law against homosexuality. Make no mistake, if the mullahs in Iran and the radical Islamists in Hamas and Hezbollah succeed in destroying Israel, the rights and lives of gays and lesbians will also be destroyed.
Despite democratic Israelâ€™s record of support for gay and lesbian civil rights, Khan believes the U.S. government should not support the state of Israel. Khan cites the â€śseminal paperâ€ť by Mearscheimer and Walt documenting how American supporters of Israel, many of them Jewish, effectively lobby the United States government in efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. Khan also may be shocked to learn that Latinos, retirees, farmers, and gays and lesbians also lobby the U.S. government in the hopes of influencing legislation, and having the interests of their political constituencies heard. Iâ€™m not sure if Khan is upset that Jewish Americans have the temerity to lobby their own government, or simply that they are better at it than Arab Americans, who also seek to shape U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
However, Khan goes too far when he uses the success of the pro-Israel lobby to perpetuate the anti-Semitic myth and exaggeration that the Israel (read: Jewish) lobby exercises â€śruthless controlâ€ť over the U.S. government and its foreign policy, such as in the assertions that lobbyists for Israel â€śtell Congress what to doâ€ť and â€śdragged us into Iraq.â€ť This stereotype of the all-powerful, scheming, and controlling Jews that infiltrate government at its highest levels should be familiar to us as gays and lesbians. Homophobic politicians and activists often accuse gays and lesbians of having an outsized and corrosive influence on our government and culture whenever we exercise our basic democratic rights in seeking to influence public policy or succeed in passing legislation that benefits us. Such prejudiced views are repugnant whether they are rooted in homophobia or anti-Semitism, and are to be condemned. If Khan disagrees with current U.S. policy towards Israel and the rest of the Middle East, he should address the problems he perceives with that policy and lobby his legislators to change it, not by making ad hominem, thinly veiled anti-Semitic accusations about Jews who in reality are merely exercising their basic democratic rights as Americans.
Stephen S. Bayer