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The following information was reproduced/adapted from the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?, (Chelsea Green, 2009) by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert. 
 

Getting active in your community

If you are not a college student, you may be feeling left out at this point.  Not to worry – there are also plenty of opportunities to take action in your city or town. Like the campus-specific section, this list of ideas for local activism is in no way exhaustive.  We have also intentionally omitted options, like launching a municipal ballot initiative, that typically entail a level of funding or professional support that is unavailable to most community activists. This is not to say that such activities should be seen as out of the question, but for now, we are just going to provide you with a few effective and efficient ways to help spread the message

Organize a Safer Community Campaign

As we mentioned in the campus activity section, having an organizational structure upon which to ground your efforts will greatly increase your potential for success. Consider reaching out to any local reform groups that might already exist in the area and gauge their interest on working with you on a “marijuana is safer than alcohol”-style campaign. You could start with NORML, which has chapters located all around the country and is always interested in helping passionate individuals establish new chapters.  Otherwise, you can contact SAFER to discuss the prospects of launching a local SAFER campaign in your area.

Distribute Information and Build Organizational Support

You are now an expert when it comes to the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol, but far too many of your neighbors are not. Therefore it is up to you to educate them.  You can make them aware of the “marijuana is safer than alcohol” message by distributing literature and other educational materials in your community. We recommend attending concerts, festivals, street fairs, and other events that are likely to have a high volume of people. You can also go to potentially supportive local businesses, such as coffee shops and music stores, and ask them if they would be willing to let you leave materials next to their cash registers, in their free publication sections, or on community bulletin boards.

When attending festivals and other popular events, don’t forget to bring a clipboard and sign-up sheets so that people interested in getting involved or receiving more information can give you their contact information. We also encourage you to consider investing in a SAFER T-shirt to identify yourself and catch people’s attention.  Better yet, you could invest in several and use them to raise funds, spread the word, and convey the “marijuana is safer than alcohol” message. 

Engage, Educate and Lobby Elected Officials

Your elected representatives need to hear from constituents who support reforming marijuana laws. Chances are that many of them have never been exposed to the message that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol.  So it is up to you to educate them. 

Contacting your elected officials is easy, and can be done via e-mail, phone calls, or – ideally – by a personal visit to their local offices.  We encourage you to place an emphasis on contacting those officials nearest to you, focusing heavily on your city or town council members and mayor.  Once you have been in contact with your locally elected officials, you may also wish to contact your state legislators and governor, as well as your members of Congress.

You can either request a meeting or stop by your local officials’ offices.  Once you have an opportunity to meet the representative face-to-face, you should inform them of your position and leave them with fact sheets or other information. Be sure to get his or her official position on the issue so that you can determine your next steps. For example, you will want to remain in touch with supportive officials, keep them posted on relevant issues (such as a major alcohol- or marijuana-related incidents), and seek opportunities to work with them to introduce legislation, raise the debate, and build public and legislative support.

Make the News

You may find this hard to believe, but you have the ability to organize events that will get the “marijuana is safer than alcohol” message out to thousands of citizens.  With good timing, an effective hook for the media, and some fun or powerful visuals, television cameras or newspaper photographers will follow.  We have seen this occur many times in the past, in cities, towns, and campuses across the country.  Even if the media doesn’t show up, you can capture your event on video and circulate it online,.  Here are just a few event ideas:

§ A press conference in response to news of an alcohol-related incident or increase in crime downtown;

§ A call for a moratorium on marijuana citations during traditionally alcohol-fueled events and holidays (ex. St. Patrick’s Day); or

§ Observing National Alcohol Awareness Month (April) with a visual representation of the relative harms of alcohol and marijuana (ex. 300-plus empty liquor bottles to represent the number of U.S. alcohol overdose deaths each year, next to an empty area to represent those from marijuana).

Whatever you end up doing, just be sure to notify the local newspapers, television networks and radio stations by sending out a news release or calling them with a heads up. 

 

P.O. Box 40332 – Denver, CO 80204 – Phone: 303-861-0915 – mail@saferchoice.org