Norton Lehner: Don’t ‘Siskiyou’ Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Norton Lehner: Don’t ‘Siskiyou’ Nevada County

I welcome the opportunity to respond to Forrest Hurd's critique of my "Are you listening" column dated Oct. 24.

In that column, I presented a number of reports from The Union, and facts from reputable sources such as the AAA, the DEA, and the CDC. I addressed each separately, not attempting to link one with another, but rather to present an objective view of the marijuana landscape.

Mr. Hurd's column, dated Nov. 11, attempts to refute the issues I raised. An example was my reference to his statement to the CAG, published by The Union on July 12, stating "The law was the problem, not their actions." I agree with Mr. Hurd that the context was the proposal to prevent those with previous cannabis convictions from working in the industry. It seems to me that those who have chosen to ignore the law in the past will continue to ignore it in the future. Mr. Hurd was incorrect, however, by stating that I portrayed his comment as condoning assault and murder. It was coincidental that the ensuing reference to the Aug. 8 article in The Union dealt with assault and murder.

Time and space do not allow a full response to Mr. Hurd, so I will address only a few of his comments.

Mr. Hurd dwells on the medical aspects of marijuana, and I concur that individual decisions are appropriate when it comes to dealing with the well-being of a loved one. Unfortunately, the cannabis community uses such examples as a smoke screen to defend the mass production of "medical" marijuana, despite the research that is identifying the many dangerous side effects.

The FDA has not yet approved marijuana for medical use. If and when it does, the products are more properly distributed through the pharmacies at Rite Aid, Walgreens, etc.

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Secondly, Mr. Hurd asserts that "There is a reason characters like Al Capone are no longer plaguing our communities: it is because the profit motives fueling the criminal behavior no longer exist in a legal, well-regulated market place." I submit that the Al Capones of the industry still exist. They are the CEOs of the corporations who make even greater profits now that their products are legal. Instead of the gang activity, murders, etc., mostly confined to competing members of the illegal industry, the leaders of the alcohol industry operate with impunity. The "legal, well-regulated" alcohol market place is responsible for about 100,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.

Finally, with regard to Mr. Hurd's dismissal of the Surgeon General's report that "Marijuana use is a major health problem in the United States" simply because it was dated Aug. 13, 1982, I noticed that, too. I chose to quote the Surgeon General's 1982 warning, not because of, as Mr. Hurd asserts, " … a willingness to mislead …," but because it was a concise statement of the marijuana problem. It is even more true today. Had Mr. Hurd looked further, he would have found the 2017 CDC report that states:

"Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, with 22.2 million users. But the types of marijuana available today are more potent than before …"

The report further states just a few of the health effects:

"Marijuana use directly affects … the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and attention.

"The compounds in marijuana … may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"Smoking marijuana can lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production.

"Marijuana users are significantly more likely than non-users to develop chronic mental disorders, including schizophrenia.

"About 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.

"Using marijuana while pregnant can cause health problems in newborns."

Again, these are just a few of the adverse effects. In previous columns I mentioned many more, as compiled by institutions such as the Mayo Clinic.

These findings are the result of medical research being conducted by the experts. It is revealing that the pot community seldom addresses these findings, and attempts to discredit those who do. Nor does the pot community acknowledge that, even after Jan. 1, the growers and distributors will continue to be in violation of federal law.

I again urge the board of supervisors, the city councils of Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee, and the leaders of all branches of law enforcement to put an end to this nonsense.

Don't "Siskiyou" Nevada County.

Norton Lehner lives in Grass Valley.

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