Letters to the Editor

Thinks Gray reduced to
mean-spirited name-calling

To the editor:
    Regarding the comments of Altoona police chief John L. Gray ("Marijuana not humorous" Dec. 25), I was disappointed that your newspaper would print such a mean-spirited, ad hominem attack.  If Gray had any evidence that someone was smoking pot, it would be his duty to arrest that person, not call him or her names in the newspaper.  Once again, Gray demonstrates that he will not investigate the facts, and that he has a complete disregard for the truth.  The people of Altoona would be well-served to find a law enforcement officer with a better sense of justice and fair play.
    Regarding Chief Gray's personal attack printed under the headline "Head shops don't help patients" (Dec. 11):
    Here are more facts that Chief Gray needs to know.  While it is true that the voters in California approved a broad medical marijuana initative in November of 1996, this only happened because for two years in a row California's Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed more conservative medical marijuana bills passed by the California State Legislature.  Medical marijuana activists were left with no choice but to take the issue directly to the voters, and they made the law as broad as it could possibly be made.
    The law approved by the voters in California allows patients and their immediate caregivers to grow and possess marijuana on the oral or written recommendation of a doctor.  Since federal law prohibits the growing or possession of marijuana, as well as the prescription of marijuana, the initiative only protects patients and doctors from prosecution in state courts.  The federal government can still theoretically prosecute anyone for possession of any amount of marijuana for any reason, although there is a question of states' rights currently being considered in federal court in Washington, D.C.  Pearson v. McCaffrey, Case No. 97-CV-00462 (WBB) ("").   Interestingly, a federal court in San Francisco has recently ruled that the federal government may not threaten doctors who simply recommend (not precribe) the use of marijuana to their patients.  Conant v. McCaffrey, Case No. C97-0139 FMS ("").
    Chief Gray is mistaken in his comments regarding the recent article in the Dec. 8 issue of TIME magazine "Too High in California" regarding the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.  Just this past week, a San Francisco, California appellate court found that the club did not fit the definition of an "immediate" caregiver and ordered the club to shut down.  Because the club was in full operation for several years prior to the passage of last year's medical marijuana iniative, Chief Gray's comments about the club being the result of the initiative are highly misleading.
    I'm certainly delighted to know that Chief Gray has not violated Iowa's medical marijuana law by arresting doctors for recommending marijuana to their patients, as this would place him in violate of both state and federal law.  However, he would do well to stop referring to Iowa's medical marijuana law as some scheme to sell crack cocaine to kids in candy stores.  Such tactics are worthy only of a runaway police state.
    As for clearing the air in my room, I submit that the air in my room is cleaner than the hot air Chief Gray is blowing from his bully pulpit as chief of Altoona's police department.

Carl E. Olsen
Des Moines

The Altoona Herald - Mitchellville Index
Thursday, January 1, 1998, Page 4A
Post Office Box 427
Altoona, Iowa 50009
Phone 515-967-4224
Fax 515-967-0553