www.medicalrights.org - Floridians for Medical Rights

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You have the right not to remain silent
We are the government. You and I.
Make your voice heard in the state of Florida.
We can no longer stand by and watch people with serious and painful illnesses continue to be arrested and prosecuted. In Florida, the facts speak for themselves. What you can do, what you must do, is make your voice heard. Write letters to your representatives, write letters to the editor of the local newspaper, and collect signatures. We must advance on all avenues in order to succeed on one.
 
Writing to Your Elected Officials:
One of the best ways to educate your Representative about medical marijuana is by writing letters. Here are some things to keep in mind when writing letters:
Be brief. Try to keep the letter to just one page.
Neatly handwritten or typed letters on personal or business stationery are the most effective.
State your purpose for writing the letter in the first paragraph. If the letter is to your federal congressperson.
Use your own words as much as possible. Don't worry about sounding like an expert. You are a concerned citizen and your opinion matters. Elected officials want to hear from the voters in their districts.
Briefly explain how the issue has affected you, your family, your community or the country.
Be respectful. A reasonable, respectful letter will be taken seriously and is an excellent way to build a relationship with your Representative or Senator. A threatening or whining letter will be thrown away.
Ask your Representative or Senator to state his/her position in the reply. If the reply you receive is unsatisfactory, write back politely requesting a more specific answer. Be persistent.
Send a copy of your letter and response to FMR. We track legislators' positions on this issue. An extremely effective way to generate letters is to "table." One day a week or a month go sit at a college or in front of a sympathetic business or at a public place and ask people walking by to take five minutes to write to their Senator or Representative about the harm medical marijuana prohibition has on the patients. You'd be surprised at how many people will take the time!
 
Calling your Elected Officials:
A telephone call is another good way to make your views known to your Senators and Representative. Here are some things to think about before you make your call: To find out who your representative is. Look in the front of your phone book or check online at: www.leg.state.fl.usa. You should not expect to speak directly to the Senator or Representative. Ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant. By speaking to a staff member, you can get your message to the official. Keep the message simple. Ask to be sent a letter detailing his/her position. Don't be shy about calling regularly. Lawmakers need to hear your views if we expect them to support medical marijuana.
 
Writing letters to the Editor:
Writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper educates the public about the inhumanity and high cost of prosecuting medical marijuana patients. Elected officials also read the letter-to-the-editor section as it alerts them to issues that the public thinks are important. Publication policies vary, but the following applies to most newspapers:
Keep your letter brief. Many newspapers will not consider letters longer than 200-300 words (1 to 1 typed, double-spaced pages). Type your letter if you can, because editors often won't read letters that aren't typed. Before you send the letter, ask someone else to proofread it for correct spelling, grammar, clarity and to assure brevity.
Stick to the point.
If you are writing in response to a news story or editorial, you do not need to give many background details. If you are explaining what our issue is, keep it simple. State your views in an organized way. Be sure to use facts, not opinions - that way you can feel confident your letter will be informative and useful to readers.
Give your full name, address and telephone number. Anonymous letters are generally not published. Editors will call to confirm that you wrote the letter.
Be thoughtful in your response. Even when you disagree with what you are responding to, keep your anger in check and remember the importance of writing a powerful and intelligent letter. NEVER send a letter written in anger immediately after writing it.
Don't get discouraged if your letter is not printed. Editors receive countless letters. Try again with another angle to the problem or look for another story to respond to later.
 
Meeting with your Elected Officials (Federal or State):
A meeting with your elected official is THE most effective way of influencing his/her thinking. Here are some suggestions for meeting with your elected officials:
Make an appointment. Call your Congressperson, Representative or Senator's office and explain that you are a constituent of the official and would like to talk to him about medical marijuana. Be polite but persistent in your request for a meeting. If the member is not available, schedule an appointment with his/her Legislative Assistant.
Plan your visit carefully and be prepared. Be clear about what you want to achieve by writing down three points that you want to get across. Stick to the bigger issues of the inhumanity of incarcerating sick people for using an effective, safe medicine. Refer to specific Florida patients who have suffered due to the prohibition of medical marijuana.
The 4 P's: Polite, Professional, Prompt and Patient: Dress neatly in business attire and arrive five minutes before your meeting is scheduled. Be prepared to wait; Congresspersons are commonly late, and your meeting may be interrupted or even canceled, depending on their schedule. If this happens, ask to continue or reschedule your meeting with a member's Legislative Assistant.
If possible, take two or three constituents, preferably patients, of the official with you. Designate one spokesperson for the group. The others should introduce themselves and briefly explain how medical marijuana availability affects them. Thank the legislator at the end of the meeting.
Be prepared to answer questions. If you don't know the answer, admit that you don't and promise to find out and report back. You will destroy your credibility if you lie or make up answers. Make a note of the question and contact us to get an answer. (954-763-1799) Ask for a commitment. Ask the legislator to support the removal of criminal sanctions for people to use marijuana as medicine. If he declines to commit to this position, ask why. Listen carefully to learn his/her motivations for not supporting your position. Offer to provide him/her with more information about medical marijuana.
Be realistic. Do not expect a positive response from the legislator. Remember, your role is to educate him/her and it may take many visits and letters for him/her to be able to see the problem from your perspective.
Follow up. Write a thank-you for the meeting. Be sure to outline the points that you discussed. Enclose materials about the issue and include answers to questions that were addressed. Refer to your meeting in any future correspondence with the official
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