|This is an emailed message sent from Ton Angell of the Marijuana Majority. He gives you topics to consider and perhaps to discuss this holiday with your family, friends and neighbors. Please, give this a read and keep that advice warm and handy for the next big holiday your family celebrates this year.
Today, families and friends across America will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Like it or not, politics is going to be a topic of conversation around many dinner tables. And with huge wins for marijuana at the ballot box earlier this month, cannabis law reform will be one of the most-discussed issues this year.
Whether you want to proactively take the opportunity to raise the issue, or if you just want to be prepared to effectively guide a conversation that your Uncle Bob launches into, Marijuana Majority has you covered with some simple talking points you can use to advance the legalization debate…
For marijuana consumers:
Come out of the closet. One of the most powerful things you can do as a marijuana consumer is tell people in your life, “I use marijuana, and I don’t deserve to be criminalized or discriminated against.” Research has shown that, while mass advertising campaigns tend to crystallize existing attitudes, personal conversations with people we trust have the power to actually change views — which is what leads to changes in laws.
For people who don’t consume cannabis:
Underscore the importance of personal freedom and respect for others. As a non-user, your testimonial can be all the more powerful. Because you don’t directly benefit from legalization, your argument for supporting others’ personal freedom is likely to be perceived as less biased and more credible.
For users and non-users alike:
Arm yourself with facts beforehand. You know the myths prohibitionists believe about marijuana: that people who use it are lazy slackers who don’t succeed in life. Be ready to disprove common assumptions with evidence and personal stories to back yourself up:
- Many productive, successful adults use marijuana. If you don’t consume cannabis yourself, you can point to President Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman or Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who have all used marijuana at some point and gone on to achieve great success.
- Marijuana prohibition has been a failure by almost every measure. Our government wastes tens of billions of dollars each year criminalizing otherwise productive, law-abiding citizens for possessing a plant. And for all their efforts, marijuana’s popularity shows no signs of waning. The latest federal survey found that more than 22.2 million Americans have used marijuana in the past month — that’s about one in every twelve people.
- Disadvantaged groups bear a disproportionate burden for marijuana prohibition. Although African Americans and whites use marijuana at virtually identical rates, blacks are nearly four times as likely to be arrested on marijuana-related charges. And once arrested, affluent individuals who can afford high-quality legal representation often avoid harsh sentences doled out to those relying on public defenders.
- Criminalization of marijuana erodes trust between police and communities. Marijuana consumers who might otherwise see the police as allies they can call in an emergency instead become conditioned to see law enforcement as a potential threat, making it harder for cops to effectively police serious and dangerous crimes.
- Legalizing marijuana undermines organized crime and doesn’t cause more young people to use it. Numerous studies have found evidence that legal marijuana cuts into drug cartels’ profits, and that states that end prohibition don’t see increased youth use.
- Even many non-users support the right to use marijuana. Visit our website for a massive collection of quotes from politicians, medical professionals, celebrities and even law enforcement leaders who endorse more modern attitudes and policies on marijuana.
- Have a conversation — don’t give a speech. Your chances of success are greatest if you really listen to the people you’re talking to. While you want to be prepared with facts, you also want to allow the discussion to steer itself naturally towards issues of greatest concern and relevance to the person you’re speaking with.
- Remember to stay calm and polite. It’s easy to become upset or angry if someone dismisses your views. But you’re more likely to be successful in winning hearts and minds if you keep your cool. Use empathetic phrases to preface your answers, like, “I understand where you’re coming from, but…” and, “I can see why you would think that, but…” Remember: your goal is to win this person over to the cause, not defeat them in a verbal sparring match.
With marijuana now legal for adults in eight states, and effective medical cannabis programs in 28 states, more and more people are learning and hearing the truth for the first time about the benefits of ending prohibition. This is an issue squarely at the forefront of mainstream American politics, and these big changes to laws are happening largely because of individual conversations happening in communities all across the country.
In the end, the details of your conversation matter less than the fact that you have it. Simply by setting an example as a proud and respectful consumer or supporter, you’ll be helping to bring marijuana into the mainstream in a positive way.
I’m thankful for your active role in building our movement,