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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Put medical marijuana law in focus

Blade Ombudsman and columnist Jack Lessenberry seems to have misunderstood virtually every aspect of Michigan's medical marijuana law and the other 12 states' medical marijuana laws in his Dec. 5 column, "Medical marijuana mess confronts Michiganders."

First, only one aspect of the law is in effect now: Those using marijuana for medical purposes can now use evidence to that effect as a defense if they are arrested.

Protection of patients from arrest doesn't take effect till April, when the state begins issuing ID cards to patients legally authorized to possess marijuana. No mystery there.

Second, the initiative did indeed specify how patients obtain marijuana: Just as in the other 12 states, they can grow it themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. While it would be lovely if the state government could handle "growing and selling any legally approved marijuana," federal law makes that impossible at present. But marijuana, America's top cash crop according to government figures, is not exactly difficult to obtain for most Americans.

The problem faced by patients who need medical marijuana is the prospect of arrest and jail for simple possession of their medicine. That problem will be effectively addressed by Michigan's new law once it's fully implemented - just as it is effectively addressed in 12 other states today.

Bruce Mirken

Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.

Now more than ever, businesses that rely on service need to realize who actually pays the bills. Today's savvy customer not only shops for the best prices but considers where customer service exists and where it doesn't. Businesses refusing to take customer service seriously will not be here tomorrow.

Too many businesses fail to think about where the customers are, what they want, and how to fulfill their needs. The customer's wants and needs should always outweigh the business' needs. "Business as usual" will not work in today's economy. Consumers are not stupid, nor do they have to put up with rudeness and lack of basic customer service skills.

Businesses tend to do what is best for the business, even when it means sacrificing what is best for the customer. This will not work for businesses that desire to be here in the future.

Businesses that thrive will be those that tell customers what they can do, not what they can't do. Business associates need to greet the customer, but not hound the customer. They need to remember where the money for their paychecks comes from.

The busiest shopping time of the year is upon us. If any service business does not have staff who can do what it takes to keep the customer happy, then some of the staff may have to be replaced. With unemployment nearing 11 percent in the Toledo area, there are hundreds of potential employees standing by who may want to do what is right for the customer.

Mark Simon

Eastway Street

I nominate The Blade's Marilou Johanek for Turkey of the Year for her Nov. 28 column. She has nothing good to say about our great country while slandering many, such as Fox News, "Joe the Plumber," whom she calls "a phony plumber," Sarah Palin and her "lack of astuteness," and Joe Lieberman, whom she says has "striking weasel characteristics."

I expected it, but had to wait until I got to the last few paragraphs to read her usual trashing of George W. Bush, whom she calls "America's single worst weapon of mass destruction." How dare you? That title should be awarded to the Democratic-controlled Congress, which strutted around like the turkey it is, doing nothing in the last four years while our country went into the Dumpster.

I can't wait to read her column in four years, after the reign of the socialist, Barack Obama; that is, if The Blade will still be publishing Ms. Johanek's "left wing" articles.

Lou Vasaturo

Dulton Drive

Ohio's smoking ban is devastating liquor permit-holding establishments. The ballot language at the polls in 2006, in black and white, claimed exemptions for family-owned businesses and private clubs. Name just three.

Liquor permit holders lost the potential of $67.44 million in liquor sales alone in 2007. The same time frame shows home consumption increased by more than 1.3 million bottles; proof positive that smokers refuse to patronize places that do not cater to them while the anti-smokers never replaced the smokers, as was promised. Gongwer News Service in August reported Ohio's highest unemployment since 1992 with the hospitality and leisure industries at No. 1 in losses, beating trade, utilities, and transportation combined.

And the Ohio Department of Health created a policy in direct conflict with the law that "merely smoking in a prohibited area does not constitute a violation." According to the ODH, not one solitary smoker has been fined since enforcement began. County boards of health refuse to approach or fine a smoker. This law was bad from the beginning, from its bait-and-switch ballot language to the ruling that a smoker is not violating the law.

How many more of our doors must close before our legislature amends this law?

Patrick Carroll

President

Buckeye Liquor Permit

Holders Association

Cincinnati

The recommendation of former University of Toledo President Dan Johnson to earmark approximately $800,000 annually of public money for the Lucas County Improvement Corporation seems an odd response to an organization that many people, including Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, regard as performing poorly. Not surprisingly, the proposal is popular among most members of the LCIC board.

A $1 increase in the county's conveyance fee, currently at $3 for each $1,000 of property sold, would produce the estimated $800,000, according to proponents of the proposal.

Under the proposal, the county commissioners would have no role in allocating this $800,000 at budget time each year. The money would automatically go to LCIC regardless of its performance. Even if commissioners thought other agencies with exemplary records of performance could provide services more needed by the residents of the county, LCIC would get the money.

This proposal is not good governmental policy. We elect county commissioners to make important budget decisions. This way, the voters can hold the commissioners accountable when things go badly. But how can we hold the commissioners or anybody accountable, when a private, nonprofit organization automatically gets $800,000 of the public's money and spends it poorly?

If commissioners intend to increase the conveyance fee, they also should maintain control over it.

Ronald Randall

Queenswood Boulevard

It is still my contention that, with the lack of performance by the agency that is the recipient of the money from the county real estate conveyance fee, pouring money into a nonfunctioning agency is not justified in a time of declining population in the area.

The businesses that have been recruited to the area are only service employers, not employers who will support the service sector you are so proud of building.

For my money, show me manufacturing jobs to replace all that have been lost, then stop crying that you cannot balance the budget. Recruit manufacturing jobs or do not waste any more money on the personnel in the agency.

James Brancheau

Wildwood Road

Recent letters have suggested that the workers and retirees bail out the Big Three. That's exactly what we're talking about, isn't it? Where do these people think many of those tax dollars come from?

Scott Franklin

Chalmette Drive



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