Sounding off: On marijuana, Norfolk Southern, Bushy Run, covid origins, Doug Mastriano, student debt

‘What-ifs’ regarding legal marijuana and workers

I have a few questions and thoughts for all those people who want to make marijuana legal.

Has anyone mentioned anything about those who employ someone on marijuana? What happens to the employer if this employee injures himself or someone else? Do you want someone in your home who is impaired doing electrical or plumbing work? If he does something negligent and your house burns down or someone is killed, who will you sue? The business, stating that it is the business’s fault for allowing this employee to work?

There are enough accidents now without adding another factor. At least with other drugs and alcohol, you can test on the spot to see if there is anything in a person’s system, but with marijuana you can’t, because it stays in your system for weeks, sometimes months.

Marijuana is still a drug, legal or not, and not everyone is going to use it responsibly. So before you make it legal for everyone, you must have a method to test for it — not only for the safety of the employee and employer, but all those around them. You must have rules and regulations for all to follow so that both employers and employees understand their roles and neither one abuses it.

I am not against marijuana becoming legal, but there must be a way for an employer to know if an employee is impaired before he is sent out to do their job. We must develop an accurate, quick, efficient and cost-effective way to test for marijuana. Then make it legal.

Debbie Buffer



Marijuana and the Oxycontin lesson

The medical community at large is at risk of forgetting a painful lesson. In 1996, Purdue Pharma brought Oxycontin to the marketplace. Sales were bolstered by misleading claims of safety and lack of addiction potential. Those claims were facilitated by U.S. congressmen whose inability to protect the American people led to the opioid pandemic.

Today, the focus is legalized marijuana. Ryan Deto’s piece “Proposed bill would give Pa. doctors more leeway in prescribing medical marijuana” (March 4, TribLIVE) highlights new bipartisan legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate which looks to eliminate all qualifying conditions for prescribed marijuana use.

The article features a local family medicine physician who supports the bill in claiming “it would become a de facto adult recreational use legislation.” From one family medicine physician to another, I must say, that would be catastrophic.

Currently, 21 states have legalized recreational marijuana. Subsequent collective medical data have demonstrated connections to major depression, anxiety, paranoia and psychosis (triggering a rise in domestic violence). In the first three years of legalization alone in the state of California, cannabis-related ER visits rose 53%. I personally have witness in practice multiple occurrences of metabolic derangement from THC-­induced cyclic vomiting syndrome. And more recent studies continue to yield concerns regarding emphysema and other lung disease when compared to tobacco use alone.

The CDC estimates that three out of 10 users will develop marijuana dependency like addiction. Like the opioids of 20 years ago, the public is being misled on the addictive qualities and dangers of marijuana. Let us not repeat a painful lesson.

Dr. Thomas J. Kessler



Norfolk Southern will do right thing

I realize the people of East Palestine, Ohio, and Beaver County are upset with Norfolk Southern at this time, but there are several things you have to keep in mind in evaluating the recent train accident.

Railroads are 16 times safer than trucks in hauling hazardous materials, and accidents of this magnitude are relatively rare. The costs of items made from hazardous materials would be prohibitive if they were not hauled by railroads.

The rail tank cars that carry hazardous materials are designed specifically to withstand most accidents. Already, the National Transportation Safety Board has determined that there is a design flaw in the tank cars that caused the pressure relief valves to malfunction and warranted the controlled burn-off of the vinyl chloride in lieu of a violent explosion.

The NTSB will make a very fair assessment of the cause and make recommendations to lawmakers and Federal Railroad Administration for regulation that avoids future occurrences. Railroads will be mandated to comply with their recommendations and regulation changes. Recommendations to tank car manufacturers will come out of the accident investigation, as well.

East Palestine and Beaver County, I think Norfolk Southern will continue to be a good neighbor to your communities. Norfolk Southern and its predecessors have employed many current and past residents and has been a responsible neighbor and taxpayer since the 1800s in your communities. The management of the company There are very upstanding people in the company management, and they have a reputation of solid integrity.

Jim Young


The writer is retired from Norfolk Southern.


We all must support Bushy Run

Bushy Run Battlefield has received a lot of support recently. That support has come from volunteers, the board of directors and board president Bonnie Ramus. That support has come came from Sen. Kim Ward and Rep. George Dunbar and their hardworking staffs.

That support has not come from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which exists “to discover, protect and share Pennsylvania’s past, inspiring others to value and use our history in meaningful ways.” That’s its mission statement, straight from its website. Yet, the commission is attempting to prevent the history of Bushy Run from being shared, and it sure isn’t protecting it.

Therefore, it is up to us, the community. Go up there and get a membership. Start volunteering, even if it’s for one day, for one hour. Donate — anything from money to a hot dog bun. It’s all appreciated! Do you have a special skill? Go share it with them.

Most importantly, let’s make the 260th anniversary battle reenactment, on Aug. 5 and 6, the biggest one ever. They need us, all of us!

Dave and Patty Fligger

Penn Township, Westmoreland County


Will government release covid origin information? Doubtful.

From a Feb. 27 U.S. News & World Report article: “There is not a consensus right now in the U.S. government about exactly how covid started,” (National Security Council spokesman John Kirby) said during a White House press briefing. “There is just not an intelligence community consensus.

“When asked if the new intelligence will be shared with the public, Kirby said that ‘if we have something that we believe can be reported to Congress and to the American people that we’re confident in, we will absolutely do that.’”

My short response: I’ll take “No they won’t, no they won’t, for $800, Alex.”

Don Carrera

Penn Township, Westmoreland County


Mastriano running again?

I am delighted to learn that failed gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is contemplating another bid for high office, possibly an effort to become Pennsylvania’s next United States senator.

I would look forward to Mastriano adopting the same “winning formula,” the tactics he used as he was humiliated in his high-profile race against our honorable governor, Josh Shapiro, last year: Do not speak to the media or anyone who might ask challenging questions; maintain and highlight your association and friendship with QAnon, the folks who believe that there is a Democratic cabal which sexually preys upon children and drinks their blood; boast about how you could try to overturn the results of legitimate elections if you do not like the outcome; threaten a massive cut in funding for critical needs as you did for public education in Pennsylvania; promote the elimination of any separation between church and state; and tell us with pride how you would force women and girls to give birth to children even if they have been the victims of rape or incest.

While you pray about whether you should enter another race, many of us Pennsylvanians are praying that you do, and that you again win the nomination of the state’s extremists. Go, Doug, go!

Oren Spiegler



Taxpayers not responsible for student debt

President Biden’s attempt to buy votes in the 2022 midterms and beyond by abusing his authority under the Heroes Act of 2003, and offering up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness, is hopefully going to be struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The Heroes Act was put in place to protect military personnel, including reservists and National Guard troops, called up in the war on terror, not to bail out overextended college students and graduates post-pandemic.

The nation’s higher education system has become predatory on misinformed students, encouraging them to pursue degrees without regard to marketability and compensation potential after graduation. Any student attending college should be intelligent enough to research their chosen major and know what their employment and salary prospects will be after graduation and plan accordingly. Taxpayers are not responsible for their student debt.

The government can assist students by lowering the interest rates on student loans and by offering loan forgiveness for military or public service where needed. Private businesses also could offer student loan assistance to employees who accept and remain in difficult-to-fill positions. What Biden proposed does nothing to help students learn to manage financial affairs; it only makes them more dependent on government, furthering Biden’s and the Democrats’ socialist agenda.

Ed Davis


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