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Samuel J. Aquila, archbishop of the archdiocese of Denver, conducts Christmas Eve Mass in Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Friday, Dec. 24, 2021, in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Samuel J. Aquila, archbishop of the archdiocese of Denver, conducts Christmas Eve Mass in Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Friday, Dec. 24, 2021, in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Archbishop did his homework

Re: “Denver Archdiocese issues a deeply flawed pastoral letter on cannabis,” Dec. 3 commentary

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver, wrote a deeply researched, impeccably sourced pastoral letter expressing concerns about the well-documented risks and harms of marijuana commercialization.

Although the Archdiocese of Denver includes about 600,000 Catholics, The Denver Post did not cover this thoughtful letter in its news pages. The Post decided instead to publish a one-sided rebuttal from Ricardo Baca, who runs a company that promotes the marijuana industry. Unsurprisingly, Baca downplays the risks of marijuana and side-steps well-documented harms that the archbishop notes.

The archbishop’s letter accurately notes today’s marijuana products have become highly potent, with unprecedented levels of THC, the mind-alternating chemical. This, in turn, has led to well-documented increases in addiction and marijuana-induced psychosis and schizophrenia. The archbishop also references data showing that marijuana commercialization has driven dramatic increases in marijuana-related hospitalizations, and impaired driving and traffic fatalities. In each case, his claims are backed up by citations to highly credible research.

For a marijuana industry publicist, the archbishop’s pastoral letter was no doubt a buzzkill. Reasonable people can debate the costs and benefits of marijuana legalization. But why on earth would The Post provide a marijuana industry advocate a one-sided forum to take potshots at the archbishop’s thoughtful essay? This feeds the narrative that some media outlets don’t provide a balanced perspective on pressing issues.

Rachel O’Bryan, Denver

Editor’s note: O’Bryan is co-founder & strategic projects director of One Chance to Grow Up, a non-profit that works to protect children “from today’s marijuana through transparency, education, empowerment and policy.”

“Enough with the temper tantrum”

Re: “Colorado’s trolls are unhinged and also empowered,” Dec. 3 commentary

It seems like the United States has become a place where we extol the hissy fit.

Let’s start with freedom of speech. Does any mildly informed person believe that the Founding Fathers intended free speech to include trolling, death threats, smear campaigns, and out-and-out lies? Certainly, free speech has always meant that individuals and groups have the right to debate and promote ideas publically without repercussions from their local or national government or neighbors. In America, you can’t be imprisoned for disagreeing with the president or your school board and saying so. You have the right to criticize capitalism, socialism, affirmative action, white supremacy or whatever war we are now fighting. You have the right to attack ideas with information and other ideas. It is also your civic responsibility to understand that in a democracy, you don’t always get your way, but you have the right to keep pressing, albeit peacefully.

Secondly, when did we, as a populace, become so self-absorbed and immature that we think it is important for the whole world to know how angry we are? Certainly, peaceful protests, sit-ins, and silent vigils have an important place in our democracy. But how does a pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian protest in a city council meeting make sense? How does our city council, school board, or university administration have the power to affect the politics of a country thousands of miles away? Why shout at them?

I say, enough with the temper tantrum. The adults in the room, whatever their politics, have important work to do, and throwing hissy fits won’t get it done.

Lynn Buschhoff, Denver

Teach kids about the danger of drug use

Re: “Dozens of U.S. adolescents are dying from drug overdoses every month,” Dec. 3 commentary

I agree with Ty Schepis in his article on the severity of teen drug use and how it differs from that of adult substance use. His use of facts and statistics emphasizes the specific group that seems to have the most usage and issues with overdose. As a teenager living in a wealthy suburban area, I have witnessed the detrimental effects of the lack of substance education. From kids in my grade overdosing in the school bathrooms to knowing people who have witnessed extreme drug usage, Schepis was right on the money.

It is extremely important for parents to focus on educating their children on the harmful effects of drug use, especially at such a young age. Schools also could put more effort into better classes that focus on student health and reversing the epidemic of drug use in teens. Mental health issues are also extremely prominent in my generation, so with access to drugs becoming easier as well, those who want drugs can get their hands on them without thinking twice. Although not all substance use can be stopped, teaching kids to use them in safe environments and making them aware of the consequences could greatly decrease the number of adolescent overdoses.

Cayden Lanziner, Highlands Ranch

More traffic stops mean more danger for officers

A recent letter correctly noted how common drivers running red lights, speeding, and driving recklessly have become. The author had a simple solution, i.e., law enforcement officers (LEOs) must make more traffic stops. What was not mentioned was that those stops are one of the greatest risks of death for officers, deputies, troopers and marshals.

Just days ago, a Cortez police officer made a traffic stop, and for doing his job enforcing traffic laws, he was shot and killed. Other officers, despite the circumstances, did their sworn duty and pursued the killer. While being shot at, they killed him.

Law enforcement agencies such as Denver are significantly understaffed at a time when serious and violent crimes are on the rise. Recruitment is difficult when there are still cries of “cops are murderers” and “defund the police.” A significant increase in traffic enforcement will not happen any time soon. The real solution is self-enforcement, but that isn’t going to happen.

Vic Reichman, Denver

People of Pueblo need depot cleanup

Re: “Clean up the Pueblo Chemical Depot,” Dec. 3 editorial

As a pilot at a local Denver airport, I’ve heard warnings from other pilots when flying cross-country flights to Pueblo, “You can’t fly over the chemical weapons dump, it’s restricted.” I wondered what was there when I found this article. I agree with the author’s statements that a place holding extinct chemical weapons next to a major Colorado city is dangerous to the population. The threat is the contamination the plant poses to the water, land, and people who have to live and deal with the consequences.

The proposed cleanup may cost the Army $600 million, but to the families and people of Pueblo the cleanup would be essential. The plant also takes up thousands of acres of real estate that could be used for other purposes like housing, recreation, and others. This possibly profitable land is unusable because of leaks of chemicals and even one time a lightning strike that ignited unexploded ordnances. The Army has reduced the groundwater contamination of the area by a small margin yet there are still concentrations of explosive materials that exceed the EPA’s standards for drinking water. Residents south of the plant refuse to drink the well water out of fear of contamination and a local river that’s crucial to the infrastructure runs through the area. The area overall needs this project to go through for the benefit of everyone involved.

Carson Luttman, Castle Pines

Pity for ranchers but not wolves?

Re: “Wolves are coming,” Dec. 3 news story

My excitement over the Sunday headline, “Wolves are coming,” quickly turned to disappointment as I read the article. Instead of celebrating Colorado for the return of a much-maligned species and iconic top predator that is essential to a complete and healthy ecosystem, it is another pity party for ranchers.

Ranching is like any other business with expenses, losses, write-offs, payrolls, insurance, etc. Their livelihood is not at risk as they would have one believe. This is an exaggeration because ranchers will be generously reimbursed for losses, and they can receive government subsidies. Operating a business costs money and non-lethal predator deterrents should have been a rancher’s business expense from the beginning.
The idea that we might lose the “open space” ranch to development is ironic since ranching itself is development. The natural landscape is cleared, the soil diminished, native plants overgrazed, and wildlife driven away.

How could one not view ranchers as “bloodthirsty” considering the barbaric ways wolves were brought to the brink of extinction by ranchers in the past, as well as from comments made by some current ranchers regarding wolves? Ranchers even fought to enact the 10-j Rule of “experimental,” an exception to the Endangered Species List, so they could continue to kill. Haven’t ranchers learned from the past?

Lenny Klinglesmith said it best that ranching and wildlife can coexist, that is if ranchers are willing to take responsibility for their business expenses, practice tolerance, and the best of non-lethal scientific practices.

Katherine Webster, Littleton

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