This year, give those closest to you the gift of education and inspiration.
The 2012 election is less than a year away, so it's time to step up the effort to build support for the initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Colorado. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will soon be launching a huge campaign to educate voters about marijuana and the benefits of ending its prohibition, but this next few weeks is as good a time as any to get the process started.
Without a doubt, the most effective way to build support for marijuana reform is to talk about it with those you know best. The holiday season is traditionally a time for socializing with family and friends, making it an ideal opportunity to begin the conversation. Use these next couple of weeks to begin speaking about the issue with those closest to you, ensuring they are properly informed, and explaining why you support ending marijuana prohibition.
More specifically, talk about marijuana itself and help other people understand it is not as bad as they have been led to believe. This doesn't mean you need to begin a debate at the dinner table or even campaign for the specific initiative; rather, just keep an eye and ear out for opportunities to discuss the issue. For example:
• If the issue comes up while others are enjoying a beer or some other alcoholic beverage, simply note that marijuana is actually far less harmful than alcohol. It is less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to be associated with violent behavior. This point can also be made if someone brings up a story that involves alcohol (eg. a time someone got sick or did something dangerous).
• Highlight stories about marijuana that were recently in the news. The local and national media are constantly reporting on marijuana-related legislative activities, research, and polls, as well as relatable issues such as drug cartel and gang violence, the economy, etc.
• Talk about how you or someone you know has benefited from medical marijuana, and how it is a far safer option than many prescription drugs, such as painkillers. If a family member mentions a health problem for which marijuana is considered an effective treatment, ask them if they've ever thought about trying medical marijuana. If you know of someone who has used it to treat a similar condition, be sure to mention it. Also be sure to respect patients' privacy and do not identify anyone without their consent.
• If you're comfortable doing so, come out and say that you use(d) marijuana. Explain how your experiences have not reflected the propaganda and stereotypes, and that you know first-hand it is safer than alcohol.
Be sure to listen and try to avoid getting into an argument. The goal is not to make the person feel "wrong" or "stupid", for this will not help and could even galvanize their current opinion. Just make them aware of your feelings on the subject so that they will take them into consideration as they hear about the subject more and more leading up to the election. It's these types of personal conversations that will build and strengthen support for the initiative and weaken our opposition. And if Coloradans have them frequently over the course of the next 11 months, many more voters will feel comfortable with the question when they see it on the ballot.
Finally, if any friends or relatives seemed to come around after the conversation, be sure to share those experiences with others. It's these types of success stories that will inspire others to take similar action and give them an idea of how best to go about it.
For more ideas for starting the conversation, as well as talking points and responses to frequently heard arguments, visit www.RegulateMarijuana.org/s/having-marijuana-conversation