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Activism 101: Why Is Letter Writing Important?

One of the most common excuses I hear from our anti-cannabis legislators when talking to them is that there is no support for cannabis legalization in their district. Even if I bring up the non-binding referendum or I speak of recent polls that were released, they will not budge from their answer. When I ask them why they feel there is no support their answer is almost always “I haven’t heard anything from my constituents that suggests the support you speak of.” It is usually at that point I’ve hit a brick wall. I can’t very well debate that with them because I know the same thing they do. Many of their constituents do want cannabis to be legal but they will not speak up and talk about it. Your continued silence gives their argument a certain sense of legitimacy.

Letters are a way to let your elected officials know what you want to see happen in your communities and in your state. Without hearing from you, they are going to assume that you want them to use their best judgement. In their opinion the non-binding referendum on the subject is a moot point because that referendum applied to only a handful of districts. They do not care about the opinions of those outside of their district because their opinion will not impact their chances at re-election. That is why it is so important to maintain contact with the Representative and Senator from your district.

I imagine writing a letter or sending one of our letters that we issue during a letter writing campaign can seem pretty intimidating to those who have never done so. You do have to give your name and address to verify your constituency. In a world that has become accustomed to hiding behind the anonymity of a computer screen; void of personal accountability, personally identifying yourself for the sake of your beliefs is a fairly worrisome venture. I have been writing letters to elected officials for well over a decade and I can tell you that the worst that has ever happened is the typical Dear John letter that usually follows a few days to a few weeks later. So if you’re worried about attaching your address to the letters you send don’t be. They won’t accept them without knowing whether or not you reside in their district.

How often should you write a letter? As many times as it takes. I have written my state Representative and Senator in the ballpark of thirty times in the last year. The squeaky wheel gets the grease right? One letter is good but sending one every opportunity you get keeps the subject in the forefront and if enough people are doing the same thing, they no longer have the excuse that there is no support. It also is a very easy way for those who can’t make the trip to the Capitol or to town hall meetings to make their voices heard.

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