A popular question being posed to NC NORML these days is “who should I vote for this year?” Good question. So what’s the answer?
The past few marijuana related bills that were introduced in the state didn’t do so well. There are too many anti-marijuana crusaders in the General Assembly. State congress has a few proponents of the plant and a couple who are even pushing for full legalization. But which ones need our votes and which ones need to be fired this next election cycle?
NC NORML is putting together a Voter Guide to help members make informed decisions. Some candidates have made statements on the record about how they stand on marijuana. Others haven’t been asked. Actually most haven’t at the time of this publication, so NORML needs 5 minutes of your time to fill in the missing information for the North Carolina Marijuana Voter Guide.
Check out the North Carolina voter guide here.
Type in your zip code and 4 digit extension to see how your government officials at the state and national level stand on marijuana legalization and decriminalization. If there is no grade next to your state officials, North Carolina need your help!
Here’s what you can do. It’s simple and could mean the difference in several more years of draconian marijuana laws in North Carolina or patients finally having access to the plant that helps them deal with multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, post traumatic stress disorder, or many other ailments. Read on….
Step 1 – Find Your Representative’s Contact Information
Look up your representative on the national NORML webpage here.
Scroll down to the section that says “Your State Representatives”
A phone number and mailing address is listed for each member.
Step 2 – Decide if you want to call their office or send a letter
Either one will work well, but don’t send an email. Emails rarely get responded to and don’t make an impact on the representative anyway. Decide if you are more comfortable talking on the phone or sending a letter in the mail. If you decide to call, just ask a few questions. This is data collection time, not an opportunity to bend someone’s ear.
Step 3 (Phone Option) – Call Your Representative
Have a pen and paper handy, pick up the phone and dial the office number.
Politely ask to speak with Representative so-and-so. If asked, explain that you would like to know more about his/her stance on marijuana and hemp laws. You may be asked to call back at a certain time. If so, that’s a good sign. You’re closer to getting your interview…
When you are patched through to the representative, thank them for their time and say you’d like to ask 3 questions. Simply ask how (s)he feels about:
1) Allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to qualifying patients
2) Decriminalizing marijuana so possession of small, personal amounts is an infraction (like a parking ticket) instead of a misdemeanor on your record
3) Legalizing industrial hemp (marijuana’s cousin plant that is used to make textiles, but can’t get you high) like Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia recently have done.
If you get a positive response from these questions, you can ask about full legalization like what’s been done in Colorado and Washington. Based on the representative’s answers to the first two questions, you’ll know if this one is worth asking.
Step 3 (letter writing option) – Write Your Representative
Writing a letter is also very effective. It should be in your own words so it doesn’t look like we’re overwhelming them with a form letter. Don’t worry too much about punctuation and grammar. Just ask these four basic questions in the letter and conclude that you would really appreciate their time and a response on this issue.
The letter could read something like this…
Dear Rep. xxxxxxx
Thank you for your time reading this letter and your service to our community. I would like to know how you stand on marijuana and industrial hemp. Specifically, do you believe doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana to qualifying patients? Do you think that marijuana possession should be reduced in severity from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction, similar to a parking ticket? Would you consider voting to allow industrial hemp (a non-psychoative plant without THC) to be cultivated in North Carolina for textile purposes? Would you consider voting on legislation that would legalize the plant, similar to Colorado and Washington?
Your letter might conclude with some facts about how marijuana is non-toxic and no one has ever died from chronic use or acute overdose (compared to alcohol which kills 40,000 people every year according to the Center for Disease Control). Another nice factoid is that marijuana is less addictive than tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. You might also point out that the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) recognizes that marijuana has cancer cell killing properties. But at this time, just asking the questions above is enough.
Step 4 – Tell NC NORML
When you get your answers, let us know. We will add your information to the SmokeTheVote.us database for everyone else to see. If you received a letter, it would be excellent if you could scan it and email it to us. This type of official record is great to keep on file. If you made a phone call or wrote a letter, email NC NORML a summary of the answers to the questions you asked.
Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The goal is to contact every representative by July of 2014. NORML needs everyone to chip in with this if North Carolina wants a Voter Guide.
Don’t think someone else is going to do this in your district. Chances are very high that if you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done. NC NORML has asked for people’s help with similar efforts in the past. For the most part people don’t want to actually participate in changing the laws. So if you care enough to pick up the phone or write a letter for 5 minutes (and pay for a stamp), you are doing more than 99% of the other marijuana enthusiasts out there.