Letter to the Editor:
        When the Iowa House of Representatives voted to increase the penalty for possession of marijuana on the grounds that they believed that its use led to the use of strong addictive drugs such as methamphetamines, our state representatives made a serious mistake.  But it is one that can be corrected.
        What the Iowa House obviously fails to understand is how marijuana smokers are led into the use of these strong addictive drugs, or it would not have done what it did.
        What happens many times when people go to purchase the marijuana to ease their suffering, they are told, in effect, "Well, we're out of marijuana but if you're in pain we've got this other stuff."  What results many times is that the marijuana smokers are ''baited and switched" to something stronger and more expensive.
        The voters of six states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and that's exactly what Iowa and the rest of our nation needs to do, also.  Marijuana relieves pain, eases eating disorders and causes people to be laid back and passive.  Methamphetamines, however, cause aggressive, violent behavior and serious health problems.
        A Gallup Poll has reported that seventy-three percent of Americans support amending federal law to allow for the legal use of marijuana as a medicine.
        With the way things are today, marijuana is being smuggled into this country and billions of dollars are being smuggled out.  Legalization would end that enormous financial drain on our economy, provide something which is actually profitable for farmers to grow at a time when such a crop is desperately needed, provide tax dollars without raising income or property taxes and greatly reduce the cost of pain relief for medical marijuana smokers in terms of both money and the enormous amount of time spent searching.
        The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Public Health Association and the United States Institute of Medicine have all endorsed the medicinal use of marijuana.
        In addition to the people who legally smoke marijuana in six states, there are eight others in the United States who have been legally cleared to smoke marijuana under a federal program.  However, no more applications to this program are being accepted, and this is a prime example of our constitution failing to protect us.
        The legalization of marijuana will benefit non-smokers as well.  Because when marijuana is accessible in pharmacies at a reasonable price, the use of violence-causing methamphetamines will be drastically reduced, providing us with much more peaceful communities in which to live.
        Today we live in a world of conflict so we cannot afford to have a nation divided; therefore it is time to make the peace within our borders over the marijuana issue like we did with the civil war, the civil rights movement and alcohol prohibition.
        Mark Kennis
701 N. 4th St., Grimes, Iowa 50111 Phone 515-986-4017


March 28, 1999

To The Editor from Mark Kennis:
        Once it was pointed out to me by Carl Olsen that some of my "Letters to the Editor" were probably too long for publication because they take up too much space, I realized my mistake.
        The following is the revised version of a letter I faxed to you on March 26, 1999 which I have tried to make as brief and to the point as possible.
        If it is still too long to be printed as a letter to the editor would you please print it as an op. ed. piece?
        Thank you,
        Mark Kennis
        701 N. 4th St.
        Grimes, IA 50111