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2 posts from January 2013

01/15/2013

Marijuana Legalization is Dangerous to Pennsylvania's Youth

Doyle-HeffleyBy Doyle Heffley, State Representative of the 122nd Legislative District
 
Pennsylvania's drug-induced deaths rank higher than the national average. In fact, a few years ago, more than 1,800 residents of Pennsylvania died as a direct consequence of drug use, compared to the number of Pennsylvanians who died from motor vehicle accidents (1,604) and firearms (1,325) in that same year.
 
In Carbon County alone, there's been a sharp increase in drug overdose-related deaths since 1996.  In 2007, four adults died of drug overdoses in our county. That figure spiked significantly in 2010, when 18 county residents, including one person under the age of 21, died of drug overdoses.
 
With marijuana being the second most abused drug in Pennsylvania, I can't help but wonder why some state lawmakers are pushing legislation to legalize recreational use of this gateway drug.
 
State Rep. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), in his recent opinion-editorial, "Legalize Marijuana: We're Locking Up Pennsylvanians for No Reason at Great Cost," said the only crime committed by those who smoke marijuana is "smoking a plant which makes them feel giddy," and that the perception of marijuana being a gateway drug is false.
 
Well, here are the facts.
 
A 2012 Yale University study, which appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, showed that alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were associated with an increased likelihood of prescription drug abuse in men ages 18 to 25. In women of that age, marijuana use was also linked with a higher likelihood of prescription drug abuse.
 
More specifically, the Yale researchers focused on a sample of more than 55,000 18- to 25-year-olds. Of those, about 12 percent reported that they were abusing prescription opioids. Of the group abusing these drugs, more than 34 percent had used marijuana. Among both men and women, those who had used marijuana were 2.5 times more likely than those their age who abstained to later dabble in prescription drugs.
 
Perhaps it's a mere coincidence that the most abused drug in Pennsylvania is heroine? After all, the increase in prescription drug abuse is fueling a rise in heroin addiction, according to a recent NBC News report. A growing number of young people who start abusing expensive prescription drugs are switching to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to buy.
 
According to Pennsylvania's most recent "Youth Survey Report" results, nearly 20 percent of students in grades six, eight, 10, 12 across the Commonwealth admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lifetimes. More than 5 percent of those students also admitted to abusing painkillers.
 
Marijuana legalization brings questions to the minds of parents and causes confusion for our children. Frighteningly, it can also cause the misperception that marijuana is not a harmful drug.
 
Studies have shown that teen marijuana use can aggravate depression and affect the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is not fully developed in teens. The list of negative affects is long, but that message can be challenged in the minds of our youth with marijuana legalization.
 
It is important that parents in Carbon County and the entire state keep talking to their kids about the harmful effects of marijuana and educate themselves on marijuana facts.
 
I am hosting a free Carbon County Drug and Alcohol Awareness Expo on Thursday, April 18, from 6-8 p.m. at the Lehighton Area High School, for parents and educators to gather more information on substance abuse.
 
Keep the message straight with the youth across the Commonwealth: Despite talks of legalization, marijuana is still a dangerous drug.

01/14/2013

North Whitehall Airport Matter

In early January, the body overseeing zoning for North Whitehall Township denied the author permission to establish a heliport. View article on wfmz.com.

 

By Michael Selig, MD, FACC, CFI-H - The issue in this case, is that the zoning ordinance lists private airports as a reasonable and permitted commercial use by special exception in the AR zoning district.  An airport is inclusive of heliports or helicopter use by definition of the Ordinance and the State Bureau of Aviation.  The ordinance that allows airports was determined and written into law with extensive deliberation by legislation. The ordinance already considered the potential impact on the community by limiting the number of flights is just 15/week.  There are 2 private heliports in North Whitehall.

If people object so strongly to airports, then they needed to undergo the proper procedure to remove it from the ordinances, so individuals such as myself do not waste their time and money to pursue what is a listed and permitted use.  If people are so opposed to having airports/heliports in their area, they needed to review the ordinances ahead of buying their property and find a dwelling elsewhere.  This goes to Usufruct, the right under the constitution to enjoy ones property according to listed uses.

The land mass, surrounded by farmland and elevation of this property provides a large natural buffer.  It was selected for just that reason. The helicopter is only a single engine, 2 bladed helicopter, about half the size of the medivac helicopters (twin engine, 4 bladed) the Townspeople kept relating to and nearly half the noise level; to that of a lawn mower.

This hearing became a venting session and character assassination vs dealing with the matters of law.  North Whitehall residents have limited knowledge pertaining to these legal matters and to helicopters, so it became an emotional issue for them.  Many local people were rallied up by a low income mobile home park owner, who lives in another Township and financially benefits from her property.  She was worried about her mobile park income, when her mobile home park has greater negative effects on property values.  Private airports and heliports increase property values. Look at how many of them are in Somerset, NJ where some of the most beautiful estates in the country are located.

The principle purpose for purchasing this property was for the Airport.  Before the purchase of the property I spoke with the zoning officer, we reviewed the ordinances who stated he did not see a reason for not allowing it and wrote a letter stating this.

I have served this community for the last 25 years as a solo, private practice cardiologist, did cardiac catheterization for 15 years and genuinely have concern about our community.  Obamacare has closed down most all private practice in our area and has negatively impacted my private practice.  Seeing this trend, I have been transitioning into the helicopter business I started with a friend in year 2000.

Not only do the residents of North Whitehall live in microcosms of indifference towards organ donation, shortages, and disease processes that necessitate the need for transplantation; it is apparent that they are prepared to preserve their "quality of life" without regard to others.  These same people spent several sessions proclaiming their concern only for themselves yet were unconcerned about the 12 years of prior EPA violations on the 309 property, a litany of violations that contaminated their streams and wildlife.  Not one of those people protested or requested remediation of that destruction, not the nurse, the mobile home park owner, or the agricultural land barrens.  Lost in the shuffle was the primary reason for the airport, to provide low cost transport of donor organs and advocacy services so I can continue to promote and preserve life.  This requires at times, rapid access to the aircraft and rapid departure.  Living on the property and avoiding the tower control of ABE allows that.

The matter is not yet closed, I believe my rights were violated; therefore I will pursue a request for reconsideration or appropriate appeals.  I suspect the Common Pleas will not grant me relief, but perhaps at the Commonwealth or Supreme Courts where the matter can be looked at purely as a matter of right and a matter of breach of law, to see if the written law has been properly applied.