I was both saddened and angered when I read the opinion of the Rev. Stephen Reynolds in a July 15 article about the proposed medical marijuana dispensary in Portland.

Reynolds says he is against medical marijuana based on his experience working in the substance abuse field. He states that medical marijuana may be well-intended, but it is just one step away from heroin and cocaine. I couldn’t possibly disagree more. Here are some facts:

Medical marijuana provides an alternative to opioid painkillers such as OxyContin. These painkillers are called opioids because their effect is similar to opium derivatives such as heroin. Opioid painkillers are literally one step away from heroin and just as addictive.

Although these painkillers are legal, they are not necessarily safer than heroin. The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2005 drug overdose was the second leading cause of accidental death, at a rate of 22,400 deaths that year. Opioid painkillers accounted for 38.2 percent, or 8,556, deaths that year. There has never been a credible report of a marijuana overdose death, ever.

Maine has the highest per capita opiate and opioid abuse rates in the entire nation.

There is a lot of research that examines the addictive nature of opiates and opioids, as well as of marijuana. I’d encourage everyone to examine this research and draw their own conclusions.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion on this controversial subject, but please do your research before you form one.

Zeke Jordan

Portland

If you agree or disagree, it makes no difference now. Stores will be opening soon to sell pot legally.

Here’s my issue with the whole thing: Why are we picking areas that are drug infested and crime ridden?

If it’s “legal” and you need a doctor’s permission, why can’t we put the store in a clean area of town? Perhaps on Congress Street near other businesses.

Put yourself in these people’s shoes: You just came from chemotherapy and you’re tired and feel sick and then you have to walk around a bunch of homeless addicts and worry about getting robbed when you come back out to the sidewalk.

Maybe it will be safer just to drive up to Mellen Street and pick it up like before. You even have curb service.

Joy Buzzell

Portland

Readers support, bash climate column by Irons

If there ever was a clarion call to the editorial writers at the Portland Press Herald to change their mindset about supporting climate change, it was included in the scholarly Maine Voices “con” response by Dave Irons (“Are strong measures needed to forestall climate change?” July 9).

The Sierra Club’s “pro” response in the same report paled in comparison to Mr. Irons’ fact-filled presentation.

His plea to the editorial writers at the Press Herald (including owner/publisher Richard Connor) to assign staff investigative reporters “to question the theory of man-made global warming and the idea of the federal Environmental Protection Agency labeling a gas that is necessary to all life as a pollutant,” is a worthwhile effort, because it would help “clear the air,” so to speak, about the flawed concept of climate change.

Floyd Folsom

Alfred

I am writing with regard to the article titled, “Are strong measures needed to forestall climate change?” Unfortunately, Dave Irons, author of the CON viewpoint, did not choose to answer the question asked but instead provides an ill-advised opinion piece about whether significant climate change exists at all, rather then how strong are the measures needed to forestall or reverse it.

now it is a well-established fact that climate change for the worse is already under way — the only thing in question is how best to tackle the problem. The United States is a leader in the production of greenhouse gases, which exacerbate the problem.

Irons ill-advisedly chooses to spread his false statements — “man-made global warming has been almost entirely discredited” and “CO2 has almost nothing to do with climate change,” for example — in a newspaper, where some readers will assume that he knows what he is talking about.

His article makes one wonder why the paper would choose to publish his views, since as I said above, he did not answer the question posed.

I would urge readers to view the apolitical film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” both to become better educated about the issue and to learn some of the things individuals can do.

Despite being produced by Al Gore, this is not a red or blue issue, or political issue, or U.S. issue — it’s a world issue where we can lead the way.

Linda D. Mawhorter, M.D.

Gorham

Where were war protesters when the Obamas visited?

In case you didn’t notice, the president and his family recently spent the weekend in Maine. The media covered this event with pretty pictures of the first family walking and boating, sightseeing and playing with Bo, eating lobster and ice cream.

Something was missing from the picture. Where were the anti-war protesters? Where were the outraged hordes clogging the streets? I might be missing something here, but last time I looked, we were still fighting America’s enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did the wars matter to these former faux protesters at all or did those previous public tirades have other motives?

I remember the media coverage in Kennebunkport when President Bush visited his dad. Tourists were complaining about traffic, boaters were upset about the exclusion zone and the town was whining about the overtime costs.

Topping it all off were the throngs of First Amendment-loving people converging from all corners of New England on the little seaside village to protest the wars we are waging.

Today we get lobster, ice cream and gushing commentary. This tells me that it was all about President Bush and not the wars. Do you protesters realize that your lack of action now completely invalidates your protests of the past?

We now have the most incompetent man in the White House since Jimmy Carter, and the radical, liberal opinion is all about toeing the line, war or no war.

Michael Frelk

Bath

Democrats determined to commit political suicide 

Why is the Democratic Party committing political suicide? Our economy and society have been in chaos for about two years, yet the majority of our politicians continue to make laws and policy that are the opposite of the solutions needed to begin to solve our problems. In fact, they are only making things worse, as evidenced by the economy having begun a new crash.

Our political elites have become increasingly corrupt over the past few decades. The tremendous growth in federal spending has simply been payoff to politicians to vote for policies that enhance the power of politicians at the expense of the social and economic welfare of our society.

Why are Democrats at the peak of power committing political suicide? Since corruption is the primary fabric of their fiber, the only plausible answer that I can imagine is that they are being paid off somehow. The only institution in our country that is benefiting from their suicide is the Republican Party.

Conclusion: The Republican Party must be bribing the Democratic Party to commit political suicide!

John Turrell

Limington

The ‘W’ in Woolwich clearly scratches an itch

In a recent letter to the editor, J.T. Nichols told how he and seven friends “burst out laughing” while listening to a radio announcer enunciate the second “W” when referring to the town of Woolwich. In his letter, Nichols explains that “with a little simple research, he could have pronounced the name of the town correctly, but alas, he butchered it, calling it Wool-WITCH instead of the proper pronunciation, Wool-ITCH.”

Mr. Nichols raises an interesting point. However, with a little travel, not only would he have discovered that most people from the Maine town of Woolwich use the second “W,” but that in Britain, many things are pronounced differently — not only on a national level, but regionally as well.

While dropping the second W is common in Britain, it is uncommon in Maine; thus, in this state, we pronounce the town of Berwick by saying Bur-wick rather than Bare-ick as residents of Northumberland refer to their gorgeous border town.

Part of what I love about traveling is the richness found in the regional variations of the English language, and I love Maine’s distinct contribution to this diversity.

Jeff DeRosa

Bath

Regarding the pronunciation of Woolwich. People from away and Tory sympathizers may pronounce Woolwich Woolitch, but the rest of us say Woolwich.

Here in Maine we pronounce words our way, not the French or the English way.

Alison Freeman

Georgetown

Seniors should celebrate Medicare’s 45th birthday

On July 30, Medicare will be 45 years old. Medicare serves approximately 250,000 Maine seniors.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform) is somewhat of a birthday present to Medicare beneficiaries. In 2010, those who have Medicare Part D and reach the so-called “doughnut hole” will receive a $250 rebate.

In 2011, the law will provide a 50 percent discount for brand-name drugs and a subsidy for generics. 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated.

In 2011, seniors on Medicare will receive free annual checkups. Co-pays and deductibles are eliminated for mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventive screenings.

Doctors will coordinate care under Accountable Care Organizations and provider pay will be based on quality, not quantity.

Beginning in 2011, the new law will phase out 14 percent of overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans cannot charge higher deductibles than original Medicare and must spend 85 percent of premiums on patient care instead of profits. These savings will extend Medicare solvency 12 years.

These are other benefits in the new law that will help early retirees between the ages 55 and 64: long-term care insurance, Elder Justice Act and Nursing Home Transparency and increased investigations of Medicare fraud and abuse.

Medicare’s 45th birthday is certainly something to celebrate.

John Carr

York