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December 8, 2011

Beal has saved lives

To The Editor:
Re “Dana Beal a folk hero?” (letter, by Joseph Marra, Dec. 1):

I hesitated writing a response because we obviously have so little to discuss, but since your assault on Dana Beal contains so many inaccuracies I felt it important to address.

First, medical marijuana is a right in many states, including California where pot has been accepted as a legitimate medical treatment for years now.

Second, Dana Beal has actively represented patients — people who have been helped by marijuana and are still alive today because of marijuana. The testimonies of people who pot has helped are available in many books and reports. Dana Beal’s advocacy is known and respected all over the world. I’ve been with Dana to the White House, National Institutes of Health and hearings before the U.S. Congress where he has testified on behalf of medical marijuana.

Finally, as far as you allegations of “criminality,” Dana is more a Robin Hood than the hood you make him out to be. Throughout American history there have been those who put their money where their mouth is and those who talk a good game and do nothing. Dana Beal has always been of the revolutionary sort. The recent Occupy Wall Street actions have highlighted the old saying attributed to Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Dana Beal fits this to a “T.”

As a revolutionary, he may upset some who like their politics predictable and their changes few and far between. Dana Beal, on the other hand, wants to change the world. That’s why he gets a lot of media attention.

As to Ms. Rubin-Vega, I hail her achievements and wonder why you drag her into a debate about medical marijuana…except to possibly contrast the sympathy-generating potential of a single mother with that of a 65-year-old man who wants to save the world. It’s like comparing apples and oranges and is dishonest on your part. Children should not be used as weapons in the drug war anymore, and I cringe when certain folks use children to hide behind when their arguments can’t stand on their own.

Medical marijuana is backed in the Village by no less than Assemblyperson Richard Gottfried, state Senator Tom Duane and many other elected officials from our community.

It would be more constructive to focus on the N.Y.P.D.’s immoral use of marijuana as an element in their discredited and racist stop-and-frisk program. The N.Y.C.L.U. has a report on how marijuana — although a mere violation — is used to justify tens of thousands of Constitution-violating searches and arrests of mostly African-Americans each year. Maybe when the law shows more respect for people’s rights, people will have more respect for the law.
Paul DeRienzo
DeRienzo is co-host of the public access TV show “Let Them Talk” on MNN

What have I done? A lot!

To The Editor:
Re “Dana Beal a folk hero?” (letter, by Joseph Marra, Dec. 1):

Joe Marra has posed three questions about me — “What has he done all his life? What did he accomplish? What good did he do?” — that I think deserve a response:

“What has he done all his life?”

Before there was needle exchange, there was harm reduction: the movement to separate marijuana and hard drugs. We started that in the Sixties! There’s really no way of telling how many lives were saved because of the cultural establishment of a norm, but a lot of people wound up not needing to exchange needles to begin with.

“What did he accomplish?”

In December 1980, with Howard Lotsof, I initiated the development of ibogaine as the first broad-spectrum treatment for heroin and opiates, methamphetamine and crack/cocaine, alcohol and cigarette addiction that was an “interrupter,” not a maintenance drug like methadone. In other words, as any aficionado of “Law and Order SVU,” knows, and B.D. Wong can tell you, ibogaine eliminates heroin addiction with a single dose.

“What good did he do?”

Finally deciding to ignore detractors who claimed I was nothing but a criminal, in 1993 I established the series of medical marijuana buyers’ clubs that have supplied hundreds of chronically ill New Yorkers (mostly with AIDS) with safe, clean, inexpensive cannabis up until the present day. That effort is tolerated by the authorities and continues in my absence — although patients now pay more and can’t afford it. (I saved people on disability a lot of money.)

It is estimated that roughly 10,000 people have been treated with ibogaine worldwide. According to Dr. Ken Alper of New York University, 69 percent of these were for substance abuse, 56 percent of which were for opiates. Ibogaine is winning acceptance in dozens of countries. After I visited New Zealand and established that ibogaine works by expressing a growth factor, G.D.N.F., that regenerates dopamine receptors, New Zealand Medsafe scheduled ibogaine as a prescription drug.

In other words, we found the Beatnik Holy Grail, the substance Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs were looking for when they went to the rainforest in 1959. I think that makes the Yippie! Museum part of the history of the Village.
Dana Beal

Pot advocate is a saint

To The Editor
Re “Dana Beal a folk hero?” (letter, by Joseph Marra, Dec. 1):

Dana is or was a freakin’ saint to the hopeless, chronically addicted junkies, giving them a chance to opt out with ibogaine. Dana worked hard, harder than you Joe, you bum who hangs out in Greenwich Village N.Y.U. campus like a has-been stumblebum.

Marra, wanna retract your statement?
AJ Weberman

Right back at ya!

To The Editor:
Re “Dana Beal a folk hero?” (letter, by Joseph Marra, Dec. 1):
Nobody knows who you are and nobody cares. You are a jerk! We love Dana and there are many of us — so crawl back in your right-wing rat’s den.
John Penley

V.I.D.’er doesn’t get it

To The Editor:
Re “My Occupy wish list” (letter, by John Bredin, Dec. 1):

Pandering politico John Bredin of the Village Independent Democrats doesn’t seem to get it. From foreclosures and corporate greed, to unemployment and outsourcing, straight through to the crumbling infrastructure and a broken Congress, there are just too many things going haywire for “a concrete wish list.”

Mr. Bredin fails to understand that forming “an electoral component” and running a “slate of candidates” are two of the many things that have led us to the quagmire that we are in today.

However, if he really needs a list, here are a few things that Mr. Bredin might take into consideration:

1.  Wall St. did not act alone.
2. Both parties have backed themselves into the same corner as the 1 percent.
3. Both parties are just as responsible as Wall St. for the decay that is plaguing our nation.
4.  One party is made up of whining incompetents while the other party is made up of belligerent, whining incompetents.
5.  It is silly to continue to vote for the same Greedy Old Parties (G.O.P.).
6.  We have sacrificed our jobs and our homes and once again we are shipping our youth off to die on foreign shores. It is time to stop asking what you can do for your country, but what can our country do for us!
7.  A new wave of freedom, democracy and responsibility is flowing across America. And if the two-faced party system doesn’t learn to swim, it’s going to sink like a “concrete wish list”!


We are the 99 percent!
Jerry The Peddler

The system doesn’t serve us

To The Editor:
Re “Mic check! Occupy is now part of the popular culture” (news article, Dec. 1):

The issue the Occupy Wall Street movement takes with the idea of “legitimate means” is that whatever you classify those as, they are no longer an option to a majority of citizens. Corporate interests and political in-crowds have essentially formed a closed loop of politicians and the wealthy who can operate however they like without concern for outside influences.

O.W.S. is about a lot of things, including a lot of ridiculous crap that is being tacked on. But if there can be one general overarching idea, it’s that the political system in America right now doesn’t serve people as a consequence of what the majority decides. This isn’t nihilistic — if anything, it’s optimistic for thinking that a protest could advance political discourse significantly enough to change this problem (and I personally am not entirely convinced by that opinion).

Michele Bachmann is a mostly contradictory, self-serving politician who operates under that same sphere of influence that can continue to work without needing the approval of the masses. Whatever opposition she has to O.W.S. comes because she’s worried about what they might accomplish, if anything. If she thought they were pointless, she wouldn’t bother addressing them. That’s logically the job of a campaigning politician: to prioritize. The caveat here is that if she was simply attacking them baselessly despite their lacking any genuine sway, she’d be an idiot.
Adam Devlin

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to [email protected] or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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