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Drug war
Peter Eichenberger astutely speculates about the potential tax revenue stream that North Carolina might enjoy were we to move the marijuana distribution system into a legal and regulated marketplace ["The Drug War's Just Blowing Smoke," Nov. 27]. His estimate of over $1 billion per year may well be right. However, this is a dated reason for legalizing pot.

See, over the past 20 years North Carolina has been enjoying a steadily increasing revenue stream thanks to marijuana. They receive it from the federal government as their portion of the almost 20 billion dollar a year drug war budget. The sad part however is the money does not go into the general revenue fund. Instead it's used solely to help finance the budgets of police, prosecutors, jailers, court systems, jailers (again), probation officers, and drug testing specialists to name a few.

Marijuana Prohibition may not produce the overall revenue of a legal marijuana trade, but those who are currently enjoying the steady flow will likely do anything to hang onto their slice of the government sponsored War Against Americans, formerly known as the War Against Marijuana.

The question to ask now is how long we as a society will tolerate our friends and families being jammed into the criminal justice system simply for possessing marijuana, as over 600,000 Americans were in each of the past three years. Those interested in affecting positive change are welcome to contact us via the link below.
–Stephen Heath, Public Relations Director, Drug Policy Forum of Florida, Clearwater, Fla.

Doing fine in Durham
As a Durhamite I am of the impression that bad news does sell and good news is hard to find in Durham and the Triangle because others still have a lot of good things to say about Durham (and the Triangle).

At the end of Bob Burtman's Dec. 4 article "The Briar Patch Factor" you requested e-mail to be sent on "untold Durham scandals." Hopefully that was a joke in as much as your Indy is a regional paper and ads sold all over. How about "untold Triangle cities scandals" instead? That could be a top seller in the region for sure. But better yet how about telling us the good things that are happening in the region?

Mayor Bell has made great efforts at getting the cities in the Triangle to work together for growth and this competition we see is OK but let's think big for the future of the region. Durham does not and has not tried to build PUDS like Cary nor compete with Raleigh for that matter. For the record, Durham has been growing steadily since the last reported census and in the one before that statistics show that Durham grew faster per capita than the regional average (due to South Durham's growth) and became the state's fourth largest city in front of Winston-Salem. Of course, does Winston really care? Why should they? Bigger is not always better.

Speaking of that why aren't we competing with the Triad as a neighbor since inherent is the fact that Durham, Raleigh, Cary and Chapel Hill are "close" neighbors and as such "need" each other. Also we have good competent people in Durham we don't need to necessarily always seek leaders from other regions (in regard to some's opinion that they are concerned about our ability to attract top talent due to recent scandals). We have "top talent" right here in Durham and right here in the Triangle.

Durham is facing its woes but not panicking over them. We will continue to grow and progress despite the problems we have here. Remember the old adage "without a struggle there is no progress." Let's keep it real! Yankees still love us and they still come here to live. Just stop by Trinity, Woodcroft, Treyburn or Broad Street! Here's a good scandal: Some of our Durham neighborhoods were last voted the best in the Triangle. We Durhamites are not being taken for granted. We are too intelligent for that.

We face our problems and deal with them sensibly! This too shall pass.
–Samuel Snipes, Durham

Talk Back
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