Legalize marijuana as soon as possible. We are going to need every beneficial product of this easy-to-grow weed. I don’t smoke pot and have no burning desire to do so. Nicotine and caffeine are my drugs of choice.

I don’t want the kids in this world consuming anything that separates them from what’s real and healthy, but I think to address that problem we better reexamine what we are teaching them and by example how to live.

Change is the order of the day. Open-mindedness and creativity and trying new things is what we need.

I know talking about running out of oil (aka “peak oil”) is a taboo subject but the fact is already under way. One of the benefits of the oil from hemp is being able to obtain modest amounts of fuel which will be better than none. This part of Rep. Diane Russell’s proposal to legalize marijuana hasn’t gotten much focus.

The focus seems to have been on the economic plus of taxing the stuff people smoke. The bigger economic plus is from production of rope, textiles, fabrics, paper, paints, varnishes, canvus, lighting oil, medicines, food oils, protein and nutrients and building materials, to name a few.

I applaud Rep. Russell for having the vision to see what actually might be of significant economic import to Maine and her citizens.

Too many of us are playing the same-old, same-old on the political floor, when what we desperately need is a reality check so we can get off the dime before we dig ourselves deeper into a groove that has become a rut that we are in danger of entrenching in.

Jenny Gray



The Press Herald has more faith in Congress than most Americans do.

Here is a body that has set the country against the entire world on global warming, that cannot arrive at a budget, whose gridlock is the shame of the nation. Let’s not find innovative solutions for Maine people, says the corporate voice of the out-of-state-owned Press Herald. Let’s go stand in line down in Washington.

Maine has gone a different way since 1977, when it decriminalized cannabis in defiance of federal policy. Since 1999, it has protected medical patients who need this healing herb. In 2009 the Legislature authorized dispensaries in contradiction of federal law.

Maine is also independent of federal laws on the environment and health care. We have a long tradition of doing what is best for Maine people.

Rep. Diane Russell speaks for the people. The Press Herald defends Washington and corporate rule.

Dave Wilkinson


I disagree that the debate on marijuana legalization belongs at the federal level, as you opined on April 22. Marijuana enforcement is draining resources for my city, county and state, and I wholeheartedly endorse Rep. Diane Russell’s bill, which would free up those resources to be used in fighting the more devastating drugs that are doing true harm to our society.

I hope Rep. Russell continues to pursue this goal, not because I want to smoke pot legally (I don’t), but because I want to see real action against heroin, cocaine and painkiller addiction.

Tax revenues on legalized marijuana could help keep police on the streets to act against drug dealers and make treatment more available to those who need it.

Patricia J. Washburn



Bills addressing firearms worth much more attention

A bill that has received minimal media coverage went before the Committee of Criminal Justice and Public Safety on March 25.

L.D. 386, “An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Working Group Concerning Domestic Violence and Firearms,” would authorize law enforcement officials to seize all firearms upon arrest of an individual charged with certain crimes of domestic violence.

For individuals who do have firearms removed, they would be subject to bail conditions indicating that they must refrain from possessing a firearm until further order by the court. This bill is necessary to reduce the incidence and lethality of domestic violence in Maine.

The purpose of L.D. 386 is to ensure the victim and his/her family’s safety and eliminate the potential for domestic homicide.

Research indicates the presence of firearms in homes with domestic violence increases the risk for fatal injury. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost one-third of reported female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. Based on this data, there is a clear correlation between access to firearms and domestic homicides.

We urge our state representatives to pass L.D. 386 to ensure the safety of Maine’s women, children and men.

Erin S. Bishop and Kerianne Kuliga

Social work students at the University of New England



One can only wonder where we’re headed, chasing a perceived threat with concealed weapons in the State House and other places they are now banned. Putting concealed weapons in certain public areas crosses the line where law enforcement is expected to handle and is trained for.

Using good reasoning, doesn’t it make good sense that permit holders should have the same training? Under current Maine law, which could become weaker soon, I qualify for a conceal permit. I have had no formal training whatsoever; and there are many others like me. Don’t believe it when they say that all permit holders are well trained; they aren’t.

The real safety issues should start with more stringent qualifications, not less. Certain rights should come with certain justifiable requirements.

On another note, play out a scene where a member of the House or Senate gets into a heated argument and, either one not knowing whether the other is carrying, both brush their coat back for some casual persuasion. Interesting scenario. And, one of them is like me, no formal training!

I’m not implying that this would ever happen there, but you get my point. Maybe in a bar would be a better example, there could be more, but all “perceived.” The “intimidation factor” could be real no matter where.

Gary David

Lisbon Falls

Comment on Israel war report misstates reasons for retraction


It was dismaying to see the April 19 letter by Marjorie Gallace in the Voice of the People as it entirely misrepresents the tenor of the April 6 Washington Post column by Richard Cohen (“Israeli ‘war crimes’ report recanted”) and venomously disseminates some typical anti-Israel tropes of recent decades.

The writer’s comment that, “After reading the articles, it seems clear Richard Goldstone recanted, sort of, because he was ostracized by fellow Jews” simply demonstrated that either she couldn’t comprehend the articles, or — more likely –chose to demean Mr. Goldstone’s recantation of his report (in a Washington Post op-ed, no less) because in her opinion, fellow Jews pressured him.

I suspect that here in Maine we do have some adherents to these sorts of lies, but it is a shame that The Portland Press Herald sees fit to publish them at all.

To clarify the tone and implication of Mr. Cohen’s April 6 column, it is useful to review the following complete quote:

“Now, though, Goldstone has retracted his findings. He no longer believes that Israel intentionally targeted civilians during the Gaza war (although he still believes Hamas did) and says that any deaths were inadvertent the usual fog of war, the usual panicked decision. For Israel, it’s like the governor has called the warden — it’s been reprieved and taken off death row.”

Goldstone’s retraction of his report’s conclusions is not anything like “sort of.” He asserts in his op-ed that because of information now available to him, he no longer believed that harm done to Palestinian civilians had been intentional.

He commended Israel for carefully completing the investigations while condemning Hamas for not doing any.

A great deal more than this is wrong with Gallace’s letter, but space limitations prevent a more complete discussion here.

Paul Ackerman

Tenants Harbor


Libraries one superb way to reach kids at early ages


Kudos to Steve Rowe for his April 17 column drawing attention to the importance of early childhood education as the “investment with highest return.”

It is baffling that we as a society have been paying lip service to this need without putting our money where our mouths are for so long. I hope Mr. Rowe’s call to action brings results.

Implicit among his “proven strategies that work,” specifically family literacy, is the role played by Maine’s public libraries. Given the demonstrated link between growing up in a low-income household and poor performance in school and life, it is a no-brainer to throw our whole-hearted — and well-funded– support behind public libraries. With the price of one children’s book averaging $15, the ability of Maine’s families to borrow books for free cannot be curtailed.

If one family with two children under 5 takes home five books per child every two weeks, that family will enjoy $3,900 worth of books every year.

Every week in Maine’s libraries, children and their parents or caregivers take part in storytimes that boost literacy skills. Many Maine libraries partner with local preschools and day care centers to bring books and storytimes to children whose parents are at work.

But with budget cuts looming and libraries popularly perceived as “low-hanging fruit,” these storytimes and partnerships may end and borrowing hours may be shortened — in short, the families who need library books the most will not be able to get them.

As we grind our way through this fiscal season, I urge all Mainers to consider Mr. Rowe’s wise words and advocate for full budgetary support for their local libraries. The investment will pay off.

Vicky Smith

South Portland