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June 2006
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Hichey amendment loses. Time to write letters.

The vote was 163 in favor, 259 opposed.
In my opinion, those who voted against it did so, for the most part, for one of two reasons:

  1. Fear of appearing soft on… anything.
  2. Fear of getting reduced campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure after listening to that debate. I felt proud to be on the side of Hinchey and the others debating in favor of the amendment (as, apparently, were those in the gallery). The opponents were dried up husks of stale, debunked, and irrelevant prattle.
So what do you do next?
Well, the first step is to find out how your Representative voted. That roll call will be available here (at the time of this post, the vote isn’t available yet, but keep trying). I already know how mine voted (unless he didn’t show up), because he has a record of being both corrupt and a jerk.
So I’m starting on my letter to the editor in the local paper. I’m going to talk about how he voted to continue blowing our local taxpayers’ money on having the feds harass sick people in other states who are following their doctor’s advice and state law. I’m going to mention that Citizens Against Government Waste called it a waste of federal resources and said that it “proves that the government is incapable of exercising any kind of fiscal restraint.” I’m going to mention that the Presbyterian Church recently joined the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Union for Reform Judaism, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the Unitarian Universalist Association in supporting medical marijuana. I’m going to mention that most recent polls have shown that over 70% of Americans support the right of seriously ill people to use medical marijuana. And I’m going to conclude that if my Representative wants to go on his own to some other state and interfere with a doctor and patient following state law, that he’s welcome to do it on his own, but he shouldn’t be spending our tax dollars on it.
Go ahead. Start work on your own letter. If your Representative voted the right way, thank him or her for it.
If your Representative voted the wrong way, then let your displeasure be known in your local paper. If yours is a state without medical marijuana, then ask why he/she’s wasting your tax dollars to interfere in another state. If yours is a state with medical marijuana, then ask why he/she’s wasting your tax dollars to sabotage the wishes of his/her own state! (And ask if they remember what state they’re from, or do they think they’re from Washington DC?)
I’m giving you an outline that you can use — and there’s no problem with using the exact same points I am, but write your own letter (newspapers hate getting form letters). Remember to follow the letter-writing guidelines of your paper. You generally must include a daytime phone number so the paper can verify that you sent the letter. Most papers won’t accept a letter over 250 words (some even less). Microsoft Word and other programs have a word count feature that will help you. It’s a good idea to trim your letter some after you write it anyway — makes it tighter. Make your points strong and clear, but without fury. Don’t go off on tangents. Stick to the point.
MAP has writers’ resources, and if it doesn’t work for you to write a letter to the editor on the Hinchey amendment, check out their current focus alert.
But write a letter. What have you got to lose? Just turn off the TV for 15 minutes and do it. You can email it to the paper. Start by copying my paragraph above and add your own words to it. You’ll be done in no time, and you’ll feel better about it.
And you’ll be surprised by the people who will come up to you and say “I read your letter in the paper. It made a lot of sense.”

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