- Floridians for Medical Rights
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have the right not to remain silent
are the government. You and I.
your voice heard in the state of Florida.
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
to Your Elected Officials:
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!
your Elected Officials:
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:
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
Writing letters to the Editor:
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 ½ 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
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
with your Elected Officials (Federal or State):
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
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.
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.