I read the letter "Reefer Madness, Indeed" by Jonah Raskin ("Open Mic," Nov. 9), and I couldn't agree more.Several years ago I read an article that talked about a study done by Harvard and-or the Los Angeles Medical Center. They interviewed 5,000 people who had smoked pot at least once a day for 20 years, and none of them had cancer or issues with any other aliments due to smoking pot.
On the other hand, each year over 500,000 people die from cancer or related diseases from smoking cigarettes. Why is tobacco legal, and pot is not? Couldn't have anything to do with the big tobacco industry making money, could it?
We live in hypocrisy, not a democracy.
The Real Threat of the Occupiers
The last three weeks of my life have been completely consumed with the Occupy Santa Rosa movement. It has been inspiring, frustrating, overwhelming, but most of all, exciting. But I keep hearing critiques lobbed at the movement, and I have to wonder to myself: How could someone oppose us when we are merely standing up for ourselves? Is it because we're all hippie stoners who don't have jobs? Surely not. I'm a full-time worker and I don't like weed or drum circles. Is it because we're envious of rich people? Nope. Just experiencing one episode of Real Housewives is enough to make me content with my modest lifestyle. Is it because our encampment is not an effective way of making our voice heard? I dare anyone to find a protest tactic in recent memory that has garnered this much national attention. Could it be because we do not have a message? Maybe you'd like to ask our local banks and credit unions that just saw the busiest day ever because we mobilized our community to withdraw their money from Wall Street banks. No, it cannot be for any of these reasons that we are being criticized.
The Occupy movement is being opposed because we are a living, breathing demonstration that a new world is possible. We are sending a clear message to the economic and political rulers of this country: Your services are no longer needed.
Our current system has all but eliminated programs that would help those with mental illness or drug addictions, but at Occupy Santa Rosa people are creatively intervening with these folks and supporting them. People are unable to afford food, but at Occupy Santa Rosa we feed them for free, three times a day. People are angry at their situation and see the political system ignoring them, but at Occupy Santa Rosa they have a chance to vent their frustrations in a productive way. People feel isolated by this system, and at Occupy Santa Rosa they have a chance to connect with hundreds of other people who have also have struggled through this economy and are looking for ways to fight back.
The majority of citizens do not vote. At our general assembly (which happens every day), everyone partakes in making decisions and everyone's opinion matters. We are providing things that this system is either unable or unwilling to provide for the majority of its people. That is why it is a threat and why it has captured the imagination of the world.
Do we argue? Yes! Argument is the crux of democracy. Are we completely representative of every single community in Santa Rosa? Not yet. But it takes time to figure this stuff out, and if anyone expects us to have all the answers one month into our movement, then I think they have unrealistic expectations.
We have been cut off from each other. This is not our fault. We are a product of our environment, and it will take a while to un-do all the damage caused by an irrational system. We are now trying to find each other. Because of how we have been taught to treat each other, we do not blame anyone for lobbing critiques from the sidelines, as if this were just another debate between "right and left." This is a struggle between the working people of this country and the wealthiest 1 percent who control our lives. If you are part of the 99 percent, and if you do not like something about our movement, and you agree with our core message, the only advice I can give you is to come down and participate. This is our chance to build something different, and to finally make our dreams for a free society come true.