Letters for January 26 

Readers sound off on organic labeling, OONA, and Steep Hill labs.

Page 2 of 7

To make this very clear, everything mentioned above is absolutely standard procedure in the realm of quality control, whether it applies to pharmaceuticals, food, or even car manufacturing. In my opinion, if Steep Hill continues to perform its operations in the current obscure way, they load the suspicion on to themselves. And of course, the same applies to any of the other labs that are currently operating in places such as California, Colorado and Montana. I sincerely congratulate such laboratories with their success, and it is amazing to see how they are capable of capturing so much positive attention. But now the time has come for them to embrace the standards of the scientific community they wish to partake in, for the sake of the medical cannabis community as a whole. Would patients buy any other medicine that comes out of a factory where nobody knows what is actually going on? I guess not. So why should this be accepted for medical cannabis? When you pay '$120 per sample' for a service such as potency testing, you should be allowed to ask some questions about the quality of that service.

There is an important reason why we should all care about the way cannabis testing labs are doing their business. If cannabis is a medicine, then treat it as a medicine. That is the message that is currently resonating through the medical cannabis discussion. Potency testing and quality control is currently the flagship of the medical cannabis community, and it seems to bring the entire discussion to a new level of acceptance, both with politicians and the general public. If this ship goes down because a few people are allowed to run away with its benefits, it may bring the whole medical cannabis fleet down with it. Imagine, if it would ever become clear that the analytical results of several years of testing have been unreliable, this would bring the credibility of the entire medical cannabis field down to the ground again. Especially, if it becomes clear that the mistakes made could have been avoided entirely ... by allowing some basic professional standards to be implemented. Therefore, it is time to make absolutely sure that the foundation under this new trend is absolutely sound. And everyone who cares about the future of MC has a responsibility in this; the patient, the provider, the physician, and the politician.

Yes, it is necessary and appreciated that Steep Hill, and other laboratories nationwide, want to clean up the 'bathtub Gin of Ganja.' But under the current conditions, they may just be making Moonshine instead. Perhaps they should clean up their own bathroom first.

Dr. Arno HazekampCannabis Researcher, Leiden UniversityThe Netherlands

"Will You Attack Lincoln, Too?" Letters, 1/12

Rates vs. Cuts

David Altschul, J.D., is correct that 1 percent of taxpayers pay 40 percent of income taxes. This is hardly surprising. These taxpayers have 25 percent of all the income. However, they actually pay less than 25 percent (let alone 40 percent) of total income and payroll taxes.

Studies also show that tax cuts that are not offset by spending cuts do indeed boost economic growth, as one might expect. But this does not mean that lower tax rates will necessarily increase economic growth, which is really the question since it isn't possible to continually cut taxes without cutting spending.

Robert Denham, M.A., J.D., Berkeley

"Bonds Aren't Free Money," Letters, 1/12

The Best Value

Steve Finacom claims the fundamental issue in "the dispute over Berkeley's Measure FF branch library bonds is that the Board of Library Trustees is attempting to use bond money for an unauthorized purpose — completely demolishing two of Berkeley's four branch libraries, and constructing new buildings instead."

From my standpoint, as a recently-retired librarian who worked for the Berkeley Public Library for 24 years, the issue is whether Berkeley citizens get the best value for their money. They voted to improve the four branches and to make them earthquake safe — and there is no fiscally responsible way to improve services and ensure safety in the South and West branches except by starting over.

Whether the language of Measure FF authorized demolition is a legal issue to be settled in court, but I believe the Library's public process — to evaluate architectural alternatives for providing expanded library services in a safe environment — showed that constructing new buildings was the better, more cost-effective choice.

In 2009, I participated in the three public workshops for South Branch, my neighborhood library, in which Field & Paoli architects compared the alternative of retrofitting and expanding the existing structure to the alternative of constructing a new building. Finacom, attending only the initial workshop, denounced the idea of even considering a new construction alternative. Those of us who attended all three workshops ultimately concluded that constructing a new building was the better idea.


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