Letters: Yes, it’s time to legalize marijuana in Minnesota

Tim Walz is right to want marijuana legalized.

Marijuana is a gateway drug when sold by dealers who have other drugs to sell. Legalize it and they won’t be selling cocaine and meth in the back rooms of the pot shops.

Yes, talk to Colorado; they have had a decrease in alcohol sales since marijuana was legalized. Other reasons to legalize it include taxes that can go toward schools and infrastructure, putting drug dealers out of business, and people who have access to marijuana can get rid of multiple prescription drugs.

Yes, it is time to legalize marijuana in Minnesota.

K.C. O’Keefe, Coon Rapids

 

HOW MANY DEATHS?

On a recent Sunday morning, while I was reading the Pioneer Press and eating my breakfast cereal, I almost choked. Apparently our newly elected governor is all in on legal recreational marijuana.

Colorado and other states that have recently legalized recreational pot have noticed an increase in traffic accidents year to year. In addition, there has been an increase in deaths that when tested, had used marijuana prior to the crash. There is some disagreement whether the data is definitive. That being the case, a lengthy study to prove the hypothesis would certainly be in order before any legislation is considered.

Minnesota spends millions of dollars a year on improving road safety. If you have driven freeways recently, you will see cable barriers constructed in the medians to keep vehicles from crossing to a head-on crash. Seat belts and infants car seats are mandated to prevent ejections. Motorcyclists are strongly urged to use helmets. Public service announcements saturate the airwaves to warn of distracted driving. Wouldn’t driving under the influence of marijuana increase, thus making it more difficult for the driver to focus on the task at hand?

The only question that remains in my mind is, how many deaths would be too many to make recreational marijuana unreasonable? Would a hundred a year be too many if attributed to marijuana use and a fatality? Would 50, 20 or 10? I submit that if there is but one fatality, and that person is your mother or father, your sister or brother, or your child, you would certainly agree it was not worth the increase in tax revenue. How could you not hold those pro-pot politicians responsible?

Jerry Wynn, St. Paul

 

NOSTALGIA FOR SOME

Historic preservation in Saint Paul deserves scrutiny, and the city should take a hard look at whom it benefits.

Recently, a group called Save Historic Saint Andrew’s (SHSA) has been working to force historic designation on a building where my children attend school, a move you covered in your 11/5 article, “St. Paul panel wants preservation of Como church building that charter school wants to raze.” In your coverage you quote one SHSA member saying, “Churches have been our most famous landmarks. In a time of increasing urban change, churches give us a sense of pride and permanence.” This language reminded me immediately of verbiage we heard during the mayoral election that we must preserve what’s “special” about Saint Paul, in reference to ball fields where one candidate played as a child.

When I moved to Mac-Groveland I initially had a positive impression of historic preservation; I saw it as a mechanism for maintaining the beauty of a neighborhood. However, I increasingly see a resistance to change and growth that prioritizes the nostalgia of affluent white people over the needs of other city residents, in ways that not only make me sense dog whistles of what is “ours” but also seem to inhibit this city’s ability to sustain itself financially and ecologically. We can’t build denser housing or better school buildings because doing so destroys what is “special” and what is “ours.”

SHSA aims to force historic designation on a school that is trying to more responsibly use land and serve the needs of children. The Historic Preservation Committee’s current criteria for recommending historic designation reflect insular priorities that do not, by design, take into account any human cost. I think community history is important, and I think beauty matters, but I have also seen the ways that historic preservation undeniably is used to uphold the preferences of some at the expense of others.

Carrie Nelson, St. Paul

 

MORE DOLLARS OUT THAN IN

Edward Lotterman’s column in the Sunday Pioneer Press on Nov 25, 2018 “Let’s end the fallacy of trade deficits” was informative and yet puzzling. Apparently, he thinks that trade deficits are insignificant, and Trump’s trade policy is entirely foolish. He gives reasons to support his opinion, and they are probably true, but not the whole story either.

Macroeconomics is complicated, and economists constantly disagree. Sometimes a simpler analysis might be helpful. From a head-of-household perspective, if more money is going out than in, the situation is not sustainable. For decades, our country has had a net trade deficit of about one half of a “trillion” dollars per year. Can this be sustainable, without creating serious problems?

The deficit is not measured in rice or beans, it is measured in dollars, and every year more dollars are going out than coming in. We make up for this by printing more money or selling U.S. Treasury bonds. Countries that have large trading surpluses are buying U.S. Treasury bonds, and China already owns about $1.18 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds and Japan owns $1.06 trillion. Past administrations did not appear to be concerned about this overall situation, but maybe we should be.

The trade deficit is partly due to a “tariff deficit,” although no one calls it that. Most countries charge much higher tariffs than we do, so sales of U.S. products abroad are suppressed.  Fair trade could be achieved if all countries had the same tariff rate … not necessarily zero, but equal. Trump’s tariff war could help the situation, but there will probably be “short term pain before long term gain.” Time will tell.

Dennis A. Helander, White Bear Lake


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