ISSUE | PAIN RELIEF

Pa. lawmakers

have the answer

A recent review article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that in general, there are not enough high-quality studies to support recommending medical marijuana ("New studies cloud Pa. medical marijuana debate," June 29). The authors did, however, find high-quality evidence that it is definitively effective for treating chronic and neuropathic pain and multiple-sclerosis spasticity. Yet opponents of medical marijuana legislation in the state House have cited the lack of studies as their justification.

From my position as a physician, as well as someone who suffers from a debilitating neurologic-pain disease, recommending something that provides a seriously ill patient with proven relief, and which is safer than current treatments, is a no-brainer. How in good conscience can lawmakers not support legalization of a drug that the AMA itself concludes is effective in relieving suffering for some of their constituents?

|Jeffrey Fogel, M.D., Ambler

ISSUE | PA. BUDGET

Average winners

Harrisburg Repubicans have made much of Gov. Wolf's proposed tax increases but are silent about the reduction in property taxes that would offset increases in income and sales taxes. Every analysis I've seen suggests that average citizens would be far better off with Wolf's proposed budget.

|Carol Kuniholm, Exton, ckuniholm@verizon.net

ISSUE | POLICING

Risky disclosure

An incredible example of an exercise in really dangerous idiocy is the new policy announced by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey on releasing the names of officers involved in shootings ("Police adding to transparency," July 2). To what end, exactly, does the public have a right to know? And does "thepublic" mean only those in street protests who march peacefully, or does it also include those who promote violence against the police?

A recent police-involved shooting in Philadelphia, which caused street protests. was investigated by the district attorney, who deterrmined that there were no grounds to charge police with acting wrongfully. Of course, this does not mean that every police shooting should not be thoroughly investigated and that, if found in the wrong, the offending officer should not be prosecuted. It means that, as for every other citizen, those decisions should be made by a legal process.

|John J. Donohue Jr., Philadelphia, jjdonoh@aol.com

ISSUE | SAME-SEX UNIONS

Leaving the fight

Is there no safe place for people who have religious beliefs that are in the minority in 2015 ("The fight continues," July 3)? Officials who quit their jobs rather than participate in same-sex marriage rites are not creating any obstacle or barrier for same-sex couples who want to wed. They simply don't want to participate.

|Jody Van Ness, Coatesville

ISSUE | TRADE

A steady drain on U.S. economy

I am normally a big fan of Mark Zandi's writings on the domestic and international economies, but I am a bit incredulous about his unwavering support for the Pacific trade deal ("Pacific Rim pact is a good deal," June 28). Like many others, he extols the virtues of free trade. But how can he ignore that we have been running huge balance-of-trade deficits with foreign nations for 30 or more years?

For a generation, we have allowed nations such as China and Japan to sell their products here (and accumulate huge trade surpluses) while they practice protectionism and currency manipulation. China and other nations use prison labor or pay serf wages, and while we enjoy the low prices of imported goods, we have accumulated trade deficits in the trillions and suffered a loss of countless jobs.

Zandi and others need to acknowledge that free trade is great in theory, but in practice, it is slowly bankrupting the country.

|James Aleo, Philadelphia

ISSUE | END-OF-LIFE CARE

Legalizing the choice on last good-byes

How many times can you say good-bye? Anyone waiting for a loved one to die knows this question. My brother summed it up best about our ailing, 89-year-old father, saying, "Dad dies every day."

My father and his life needed to be celebrated; his death should have been gentle and civilized. He was no longer eating or drinking, and death was assured. At that point, we needed to say good-bye; he needed to peacefully go to sleep. Such would have commemorated his life, allowing him to die gracefully in tranquility, surrounded by loved ones who could then begin their own grieving process.

As baby boomers, we must fix this. We must change the laws.

|Marleen Laska, Oaks, marleen.laska@comcast.net

ISSUE | PA. GAMBLING

'Net gaming shouldn't bypass horse fund

The billions that Pennsylvania's agriculture and horse racing industries pour into the state economy in support of thousands of jobs are being threatened by a state Senate proposal to legalize Internet gaming. Instead of designatating revenue for the Race Horse Development Fund, as was done with casino revenue, the Senate would allow Internet gaming to bypass this fund. That would damage much of the progress made since 2004 in rescuing the horse racing industry. Internet gaming has its place, but it shouldn't hurt Pennsylvania farmers and working families.

|Tim Shea, president, Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Grantville

ISSUE | CLIMATE

Cost-benefit analysis favors pollution controls

Overturning the mercury and air toxics standards puts the coal industry and special interests before public health, especially that of children ("High court blocks pollution rules," June 30). A recent Supreme Court ruling claimed federal regulators failed to take the costs of installing and operating equipment into account. However, the benefits of reducing mercury clearly outweigh the costs of cleaning up power plants, estimated at $9.6 billion a year. The investment can save $37 billion to $90 billion annually by preventing up to 11,000 deaths, 4,700 nonfatal heart attacks, and 540,000 lost days of work.

|Toni Granato, administrative assistant, New Jersey Sierra Club, Trenton

Ruling turns back clock by decades

The arctic is melting, the West is burning, the Midwest and Southwest are drowning, and tornado sightings are being reported in Chester County of late. Yet five supposedly enlightened individuals on the highest court in the land deem efforts to curtail the damage largely irrelevant, basing their recent ruling on pollution controls predominantly on monetary grounds. Apparently, their conclusion gives short shrift to the mounting scientific evidence suggesting that profit not be given the top priority when regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from coal. But is this 2015 or 1985?

|Lawrence Zeisler, Coatesville

ISSUE | UTILITY REPAIRS

Comcast slow to make storm repairs

A recent storm in South Jersey left many of us without power or Internet service. Yet several days after power in my area was restored, Comcast service remained out ("The company Roberts built," June 21).

In the past, I was told it would take a week or two before anyone could get to me because they were shorthanded. I had to visit one of the offices to get someone to repair a downed cable line after seeing Comcast trucks drive right by without ever stopping. Comcast seems more in tune with lining its pockets than serving the public.

|Larry Lueder, Mantua, l_lueder@yahoo.com