- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

Ashcroft and medical marijuana

Seriously ill patients across America are celebrating the resignation of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (“Ashcroft, Evans quit Bush Cabinet,” Page 1, yesterday). Under his supervision, the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted a cruel and pointless war against patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other terrible illnesses who found relief from medical marijuana when conventional medicines failed.

It made no difference to Mr. Ashcroft that these patients were obeying the laws of their states, or that their use of medical marijuana was with the recommendation and guidance of their physicians. During one particularly gruesome raid in September 2002, five DEA agents pointed automatic rifles at the head of a disabled woman, Suzanne Pfeil, then handcuffed her while they proceeded to ransack the medical-marijuana co-op where she was a patient.

The departure of Mr. Ashcroft gives President Bush an opportunity to reconsider this war on medical-marijuana patients — a war that has been rejected again and again by voters, most recently in Montana.

BRUCE MIRKEN

Director of communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington

Moral values and social justice

As long as Clarence Page (“Voter trend shift,” Commentary, Tuesday) and the left define moral values as social justice, they will have trouble understanding the 27.4 million voters who stated moral values as their primary reason for going to the polls on Nov. 2.

Moral-values voters consider same-sex “marriage,” abortion and pornography to be immoral. Liberals such as Sen. John Kerry and Mr. Page consider federal funding of education, medical care and public housing as moral values. Liberals willfully misunderstand that record numbers of churchgoers voted with their feet based on moral issues as defined in the Bible.

Mr. Page believes moral values voters need to have their values redefined by the Democratic Party. If you carry his theory to its illogical conclusion, the Democrats are a shoo-in 2008 if they can just convince moral- values voters to forsake their values and adopt Democratic Party social views. It is going to be a long four years for Mr. Page.

ELIZABETH SMITH

Purcellville, Va.

Sex education in schools

I applaud the Nov. 5 decision by the Texas Board of Education to approve the use of true abstinence sex-education textbooks in the state’s public schools (“Texas school panel forces changes to books on health,” Page 1, Saturday). The issue of abstinence sex education has sparked much controversy, not only in Texas but on a national level as well.

A common criticism in the media is that no studies exist to show that abstinence curricula stop teenagers from having sex. Untrue. A recently released study shows a true abstinence sex-education program called Choosing the Best reduced the initiation of sexual intercourse among ninth-graders in two Georgia counties by 26 percent in just one year. This is a huge feat when you consider that the national proportion of sexually active high-school students has declined by only 16 percent over the past decade.

Choosing the Best has been used by about 100,000 students in Texas since 1997. With the board’s recent decision, I am eager to see more students learning from genuine abstinence sex education and becoming excited about the positive impact it will have in their lives.

BRUCE COOK

Founder and president

Choosing the Best

Atlanta

School board President Sharon W. Cox is way off base if she thinks Montgomery County taxpayers and parents want their eighth-graders learning about homosexuality and their 10th-graders learning how to put condoms on cucumbers during precious class time (“Board OKs sex-ed program,” Metropolitan, Wednesday).

If that is her idea of “mainstream thinking,” then most parents I know are way out of the mainstream. I live near Kensington, by the way, which is notorious for being way out of the mainstream. We have several homosexuals in our neighborhood, with whom I am friendly and neighborly. Some of my neighbors also smoke cigarettes. I tell my three children that not all adults are role models and that homosexual behavior and smoking are unhealthy, and they shouldn’t do either. I am not a homophobe or a bigot. I want my children to live a normal and healthy lifestyle, free of smoking and homosexuality.

What is bigoted and intolerant is telling religious people that their faith and values will not be tolerated in our public schools.

The proposed curriculum also states as “fact” that “sex play with friends of the same gender is not uncommon during early adolescence.” If Ms. Cox actually believes that, I would love to hear some stories from her childhood. Maybe I was raised out of the mainstream, but I never, ever saw such behavior. If I did, I think I would remember it.

STEVE DIRLIK

Montgomery County Republican

Central Committee, District 18

Silver Spring

The story on health education in Montgomery County Public Schools did a disservice to parents by omitting several key facts. First, written parental permission is still required before students may participate in any class on human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases. Second, parents can preview instructional materials on these topics so they can make an informed decision about whether to approve their child’s attendance in such classes. Third, alternative units are available if parents decide not to have their children participate in human-sexuality instruction.

The school system provides various options for students who opt out of human sexuality instruction, including a unit called “abstinence only.” Parents select the alternative unit that they want their children to study. These points were emphasized during the board’s discussion and are important for parents to know.

The changes the board approved Tuesday are designed to give students and families information in a responsible manner. It is disappointing that the reporter failed to note the board’s discussion about the central role of parental involvement in the health-education curriculum.

Montgomery County Public Schools stands behind its belief that parents are a child’s best teacher and that they have the final say in the education of their children about issues of human sexuality.

RUSSELL HENKE

Coordinator of health education

Montgomery County Public Schools

Rockville

Social Security and privatization

Sen. Harry Reid was quoted in Tuesday’s edition (“Nevada’s Reid tells Bush to tread lightly,” Nation), before any legislation had even been proposed or debated, as being firmly against any fundamental changes in Social Security. He went so far as to warn, “Privatizing Social Security will destroy Social Security as we know it.”

Senator Reid, with all due respect, we need to do just that — destroy Social Security as we know it. The current program, which takes from today’s workers to pay for tomorrow’s beneficiaries, is not sustainable over the long haul.

Dismissing out of hand any changes to Social Security as a way to strengthen the program and allow younger workers to build a nest egg is irresponsible grandstanding. I hope Mr. Reid will reconsider his stance and work with President Bush, who made Social Security reform a central plank in his re-election platform, which was resoundingly endorsed by the American people.

TOM JOHNSON

Gaithersburg

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