Welcome to ‘The Practical Toker’s Activist Handbook’, a series of articles aimed at making more efficient activists for the cannabis cause. OF course, most of this will also apply to any other type of activism that you wish to do.

Chapter 1: Rules For Dealing With Politicians

When dealing with politicians, the more personal the involvement, the better the result. Any level of contact is appreciated, but a phone call is better than an e-mail. A visit is better that a phone call. However, constant contact is the key. Remember, these folks were elected to represent you. So feel free to them how you feel.

Second, when you do contact your politicians, be polite. Politicians are only human and you get what you put out. If you come off as hostile and agitated then they will respond in kind. ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’, as the old saying goes. Throw in a kind word or two if you can. Thank them sincerely for taking the time to listen to you’re thoughts. If you voted for them make sure to mention that also.

Be concise. Politicians are bombarded with information and especially on the state level, also have jobs. They don’t have time to read a five page diatribe on marijuana, no matter how well written and foot noted. Keep your calls, e-mails, etc. to the point. If you have multiple issues you wish to discuss, I suggest contacting them separately for each issue.

Next, appearance counts if you choose to meet with your lawmakers in person. I hate to admit it since personally I believe in individuality and non-conformity, but it is the way the world works. If you go to lobby for a cause and look like a slob, no one will take you seriously. I’ve found this out the hard way. So, take the time to shave, put on some nice clothes, get a haircut, etc. Think job interview mentality.

If the politician holds a committee chair and what you’re contacting is in that committee’s hands, use their title. Hell, that’s just a generally good rule. Always use the professional title of who you’re contacting. (Representative, Senator, etc.)

That’s all I got for now. Be polite, concise, and gracious. It’ll work wonders.

If you made it this far, I hope you read part 1: Rules For Dealing With Politicians. This is part two, which will be dealing with the easiest way to get active in any movement in modern time…

Yeah, what he said...

Chapter 2: Internet Activism

Activism comes in many forms. From those who attend meetings and rallies to those who just are vocal about their views; it’s all activism. And it takes many different forms of activism to elicit change.

Internet Activism

Internet activism can be something as simple as voting in an online poll. Or using a one click link to e-mail your reps. Internet activism is popular as it can be done sitting on your couch eating Cheetos and watching ‘Mannequin II’ (I ain’t one to judge, folks…) It’s definitely the easiest way to get your voice heard.

Communication plays a strong part in any movement. Vocalizing the message to the masses is probably the most important goal of a movement. Ya gotta get the people on your side. We used to find political debates reserved to bars and coffee shops, now they’re everywhere on the net. And you can always find a forum to voice your views on the world wide web. (Hell, start a blog or something, just help spread the word.

Recently, President Obama answered a question on YouTube about marijuana legalization. The fact that he answered that question was directly a result of internet activism. YouTube users were allowed to both post a question and vote on what questions for Obama to answer. From UPI.com :

More than 193,000 people submitted nearly 140,000 questions and cast almost 1.4 million votes by midnight Wednesday, the submission deadline, a United Press International review indicated. This is 10 times last year’s 14,000 questions, the first year YouTube hosted an Obama interview.

The top 10 questions all involved ending or changing the government’s war on drugs, legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and embracing industrial hemp as a “green” initiative to help farmers, the UPI review found.

Internet activism is both necessary and efficient. However, for written activism in any media to be effective, it must be well done. That means well thought out, eloquent arguments. That means no net speak. No abbreviations. Take the time to write up a clear and concise argument.

Of course, you can also use the internet for media activism, but that’s another blog. Just suffice to say they go hand in hand with the advent of self broadcasting. ‘You can’t have one without the other’ as the old song goes.

Of course, no matter how much of an internet activist you are, you still need to vote. Voting is your biggest weapon in your arsenal of change.

Chapter 3 will be coming soon!