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Letters 04-15-2013

- April 15th, 2013  

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In defense of the doctor

Thank you Northern Express and writer, Patrick Sullivan, for covering the story about Dr. Ed Harwell (who was charged with a felony for prescribing medical marijuana - ed.). I find this situation deeply disturbing. Having been in the health care industry since 1990, and an avid researcher, I’d like to share my ideas.

In United States law pertaining to health care providers, it is an M.D. that determines “medical necessity.” The presence of medical records only serves to substantiate a doctor’s findings. Likewise, the absence of medical records does not indicate that something is not medically necessary.

Consider emergency room visits. If patients had to bring medical records along before being treated, many would end up dead. Therefore, when a doctor sees a patient, that doctor makes the determination of medical necessity (to prescribe narcotics, anti-depressants, digestive meds, morphine, methadone, a referral to a specialist, emergency surgery...). The doctor needs no medical records to do so.

For example, I recently changed primary care providers. I had an in-depth discussion with the new M.D. and indicated all my medical challenges and areas of pain. He was able from that interaction to write me scripts for the medicines I needed. He was not in possession of a single medical record for me.

This process sounds exactly like what Dr.

Harwell does when he certifies a patient in the medical usage of cannabis. Obviously, Dr. Harwell has determined that there is a “medical necessity” to warrant such certification.

“Cody Boyd,” (the undercover officer’s name) provided false testimony to the doctor. Will that county’s prosecutor try Boyd for “medical fraud?” Boyd confesses to lying about having neck pain and anxiety but tells the doctor about his real, chronic knee pain.

From research, I discovered that “chronic pain” is a legitimate condition listed on the “Physician Certification” (a Michigan Medical Marihuana form that a doctor completes when determining the medical necessity of cannabis).

Therefore, the chronic knee pain that Boyd referred to is a legitimate condition for the medicinal use of cannabis. Dr Harwell did the right thing.

Dr. Harwell listened to verbal testimony, performed a manual exam of the knee and checked the knee’s reflexes with a plexur (those funny little hammers you play with when waiting for doctors). He checked Boyd’s blood pressure, found it was high and instructed Boyd to recheck the pressure at a pharmacy later and to call the doctor if it was still high. Talk about a doctor that cares! When was the last time your doctor encouraged you to call him/her personally? Sounds like a genuine doctorpatient relationship. Dr. Harwell treated that patient flawlessly.

Physicians write thousands of prescriptions for narcotics, and other painrelieving drugs each day in the U.S. When a doctor determines that there is a medical necessity for cannabis use, then this should be no different. Cannabis is a legitimate medicine and can ease peoples’ suffering. It often alleviates pain better than medicines currently prescribed, and with insignificant and non-life-threatening side effects (drowsiness).

Consider the spooky side effects that drug manufacturers list at the end of their T.V. ads. Let’s continue speaking with others about this case and get the word out that Michiganians will not accept the police harassment of citizens who are trying to do good, such as Dr. Ed Harwell.

Stephen C. Benton • Petoskey

Saber-rattling in Korea

I have been watching this North Korean thing and being a Vietnam combat vet, I'm appalled as to what is going on in this world. North Korea is looking for recognition by the USA and the world, yet without diplomacy coming for the West how can North Korea achieve this? Rattle the saber and let the news media go crazy with it, again waving the flag and calling to arms so more of our kids and friends will die.

If you will remember when Obama won the first time, his world change was to talk with our enemies. I have yet to see much of that happening... have you?

If we do go to war with North Korea, will it drag China and Russia into a global WW III? Is that what this country wants? If we do win and China and Russia stay out, how much will it cost this country to rebuild North Korea? We cannot take care of our own people today.

It is so not worth going overboard so this young leader can make a name for himself.

Jim Williams • Harper Woods

Offended and shocked

I am writing to you about the cover of your March 25-31 edition for “The Best of Northern Michigan.” The picture on the cover depicts a cartoon-like drawing of two women dressed is cheerleaders in skimpy push-up bras, boots and shorts that do not cover their buttocks. They are holding pompoms and smiling as they stand at each side of a sign.

I am both offended and shocked that you would think this is a suitable cover. I have enjoyed reading your newspaper for many years and I do so because I enjoy the features, music and film reviews, and “Hot Dates” sections. I try not to read newspapers and magazines with sexist advertising, sexual lewdness, or comments that insult my intelligence. If your intent was to compete for attention with this type of news magazine, then you have already lost the game.

If your intent, in publishing this cover, was to offer an eye-catching method of attracting readers and consumers, then why would you insult your target audience of men and women who find this type of sexism insulting? Market studies show that women most often select the restaurants, entertainment, clothing, and music for the family. Women are therefore the most important demographic, I assume, for the advertisers in your newspaper. So, what exactly is your marketing plan? To attract women with cartoons of trivialized, sexually suggestive cheerleaders? Perhaps this approach appeals to pre-pubescent and adolescent males, but 1 would think most of your readers find these pictures demeaning and insulting.

I hope that in the future you will reconsider this type of copy, and treat your topic with more dignity, and your readers with more respect.

Carolyn Burke • Bellaire

Beware lawn chemicals

Most people look forward to spring and summer. I kind of dread it because that means the lawn companies will be coming out to spray thousands of lawns (our downtowns too) with toxic, unnecessary chemicals, exposing our children and animals.

I imagine most people reading this don’t care, don’t think about it and believe that a silly warning sign is good enough. I don’t think so!

We should all be concerned, think like detectives and question what is in this lawn brew. I happen to be in my 30s and back when I was little in the 1970s I don’t recall chemical companies spraying. I was fortunate to have grandparents and parents who lived without chemicals, using white vinegar and baking soda to clean and do laundry. It was inexpensive and safe for my brother, sis and me. And they would never allow chemical lawn companies on their properties.

It’s funny how we shut our windows when these companies spray but it’s fine to pollute big, little and the tiniest creatures homes outdoors. They don’t have a window to shut.

This is how I see it: the simpler the safer. The best products are at healthfood stores like Oryana or Edson's. Try local products like Ginger Clean (all-purpose organic cleaner) and Moon Works laundry detergent. Great products without the toxic residue. And talk to your neighbors against chemical lawn companies.

Julie Patterson • via email

Recycle fracking fluids

The most disagreeable aspect of hydraulic fracturing has to be the incredible pollution and waste of billions of gallons of fresh groundwater which is then pumped back into the ground to haunt, and possibly poison future generations.

Consider the injection of these fracking fluids back into the Earth.

The water used in this process is polluted before it ever enters the well casing. Why not use the same quantity of water over and over again?

Pennsylvania already recycles 14% of its fracking fluids. Even as politically regressive a state as Texas is doing some recycling.

As “Pure Michigan” water is really our most important asset in this state, why not require all fracking fluids to be recycled. The obvious logic of this solution is inescapable. There is absolutely no reason to risk the safety of the groundwater in Michigan.

Bob Wallick • Cross Village

Skimming funds

What is next at Brown Bridge Quiet Area?

Hydraulic fracturing? Last night, Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes put his toe in the polluted water to remove monies from the Brown Bridge Quiet Area Trust Fund.

The current value of the trust fund is $13.1 million. The trust fund is only a referendum away from having funds skimmed off for city projects.

The Brown Bridge Quiet Area already has proposed millions of dollars in needed restoration. There are questions of about water quality, too. What goes on in this county already? They engage substandard practices in their projects, cause disasters, avoid liability and then seek to skim funds from a trust fund.

What happened to the $2.2 million grant received from The Riverkeepers to remove sediment from Brown Bridge? The interest earned will be less if monies are skimmed as well. The interest is already received by the city’s general fund.

This is a violation of the public trust, yet alone the trust fund.

Elisa Barrett • TC

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