Hi, I'm Robert with City Collective. We are a group of citizens who work together collectively to provide ourselves with an effective remedy for our health problems in accordance with State HandS code 11362.5 and the 10th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.

I am writing in response to the May 31 Coastal Voices piece authored by Roger Gitlin ("Just say no to marijuana.") As a Tea Party member like myself, I thought Mr. Gitlin would support free markets, constitutionally limited government and fiscal responsibility. On that notion I'd like to comment on a few of Mr. Gitlin's claims.

Drug laws do make marijuana an "entry level narcotic" or "gateway drug." Cannabis has led to harder drugs only because our policy makes cannabis users go only to drug dealers. See all the items around the cash register of your local grocery store? That's impulse shopping.

Our national drug policy is responsible for leading millions of plant

users to powder. Regarding "All you need is a note from your doctor,

phony or not," a "phony note" is not accepted from legally operating,

honorable organizations. The opportunity to forge this document is

acknowledged by medical cannabis collectives and verification of the

physician's right to practice medicine in California is obtained, as

well as confirmation from the doctor's office.

Also a valid California identification is required and an agreement

not to distribute medicine to others is signed. Our group will not

enroll members under the age of 21. We have better protocol than that of

a pharmacy. At most pharmacies all you need to do is know who might

have a prescription to pick up. You can even just write "not my meds" on

the pin pad after you tell them whose prescription you're picking up.

Mr. Gitlin, you said, "The use of marijuana is clearly against

federal law" and although many of you would agree that cannabis is

"clearly against federal law," the truth is the U.S. Constitution

protects state rights in the 10th Amendment, and the Constitution has

yet to receive the 28th amendment banning a plant as it did for alcohol

in the 18th Amendment.

The court may not be able to duck the issue much longer. If the

people of each state choose to decriminalize marijuana in some

circumstances, the Constitution plainly reserves to them the power to do

so, my Tea Party brother. When the United States banned cannabis,

though most people had used cannabis as rope, canvas or as an unfamiliar

ingredient in the remedies commonly found in local general stores, most

had never heard of it. Now about 75 percent of adult Americans admit to

trying it, and still nobody is dead.

So, as for tolerating those who make use of cannabis, speaking

"volumes as to what we have evolved in this country," I'd remind you

that we also evolved out of segregation and into women's voting rights.

Maybe cannabis prohibition is the modern conclusion of evolution in our

country, we all win.

"Comparing alcohol and cigarettes" to cannabis "is a lame argument,"

you said, Mr. Gitlin, and it is. Alcohol causes up to 500 kids to die

from an overdose every year in our country, not to mention thousands of

innocent drivers and their families. So there is really no comparison.

Tobacco is laced with toxic additives and preservatives.

"The answer is education," and you are right Mr. Gitlin. After

decades of DARE programs and advertisements exaggerating the risks of

cannabis, the "Drug War" has failed and it seems its attempts have only

intrigued our youth. The propaganda I was taught in school even tried to

scare me and my schoolmates with a guide to prison sentencing. I now

feel that was a form of terrorism (to use fear to support your agenda

and/or views or suppress in others). And yes, the Department of Justice

regularly wins five- to 10-year sentences or more for a few plants, even

for old, dying, law-complying residents in our own state.

It seems the biggest argument against people using cannabis as

medicine is fear children will obtain it or become interested in it. I

find with my children, they are drawn to what you try to keep from them

and they remember and test everything you tell them when you're not

looking. So be honest with your kids and keep an eye on them. Become

involved with their lives.

Explain that marijuana is a drug, like alcohol and cigarettes or

aspirin and antibiotics, with powerful effects. As such, it is for

adults and seriously ill people only and should be treated with respect.

Point out that the smoke irritates the bronchial tubes.

Explain that the effects of all drugs can interfere with the physical

and hormonal changes young people experience as they enter adolescence.

If they are already having some problems, marijuana is not going to

help them and may make their problems worse. It is wrong for kids to use

marijuana, because it can interfere with their ability to concentrate

and develop properly. And if they enjoy it too much, pot can become an

expensive and time-consuming habit.

Emphasize that smoking marijuana can lead to problems at school, at

home, or with the police - problems they need to avoid for their own

sake. In addition young people are prone to become dependent on cannabis

- explain dependency and addiction.

Your first priority should be to maintain their trust. Demonizing

marijuana is not likely to convince your child to abstain from using it,

but it may damage your credibility in their eyes. Exaggerating its

effects only glamorizes pot in the eyes of a rebellious youth.

We at City Collective support policies that treat drug use as a

health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and we believe that families

should have privacy and autonomy when dealing with drug issues.

Mr. Gitlin, I have also heard rumors of arrests. I and my fellow

members are shaken and I call on my community to write to your leaders

in favor of law, sensibility, freedom, tolerance, and unity, because

divided we fall.

Robert DeRego is a Crescent City resident.