Doing something

Congratulations to Russell Barth and Robert Sharpe for being the MAP 2009 Letter to the Editor Writers of the Year.

Russell Barth had 183 letters published. Robert Sharpe had 176 letters published.

Russell Barth writes to Canadian newspapers from his home in Nepean, Ontario. Canada has less than an eighth the number of daily newspapers as does the United States. MAP has archived a total of 678 of his published letters which you may read at

Robert Sharpe writes to newspapers all over the world from his home in Maryland. MAP has archived a total of 2,248 of his published letters which you may read at

I write a letter now and then when something pisses me off so much, it’s not enough to talk about it here. MAP has archived a total of 8 of my published letters which you may read at

How many have you written?

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15 Responses to Doing something

  1. allan420 says:

    I have a humble total of 148 letters published in MAP’s archive:

    If you include my Opeds, a grand total of 153:

    I think I’m number 12 or 13 on MAP’s LTE list, quite a chunk behind Howard Wooldridge.

    I absolutely encourage everyone here to write those letters! Engage your local editors. Shoot for the biggies once in a while, just because. I’ve seen print in the LA Times, WaPo, WaTimes, NY Post, WSJ… I’ve bumped heads with Bill Bennett, Sandra Bennett, our gal Calvina(!) and her Turlock sycophant, Eric Voth…

    It’s a hoot! And people listen… we’ve moved hearts and changed minds…

  2. DavesNotHere says:

    Russell Barth and Robert Sharpe, thank you for your incredible time, effort, and results in helping make this world a better place. What an awesome example, those numbers are beyond impressive.

    Thank you allan420, and everyone else that makes their voice known and heard.

    I have done some letters, not nearly enough, but I will do better when I can. I haven’t kept count. I would have to include my cigarette, cigar, snus, smokeless, tobacco letters also to find a respectable number worth counting right now, but I’ve had my name in several papers calling for an end to the drug war. Its not for everyone at all points in there life, but if you can please do.

    And speaking of tobacco being related to the drug war, Steve Chapman has a good read in his Chicago Tribune column, “Tobacco truth goes up in smoke” that I will link to when I can. ( )

    Pete’s been a leading American at pointing out how the Drug Czar is required to lie. You never know how much of an impact one truth or experience or fact you may realize or come across can have on the world. Sure, thousands of people may see the same truth that is counter to prevailing norms such as issues in the drug war, but your voice could be the one that gets that truth more widespread and known. You are making history, in essence.

    Pete may not have been the only or first one to point out that the government, by law, is forced to lie to us about “some” drugs, but he’s been a leader at getting that truth out with his voice. That bit of history should be included in history of the drug way in America at the turn of the 21st Century in my opinion.

    Well, in addition to our government employees being required to lie to us about “some” drugs, tobacco companies that offer nicotine products that are not smoked are also required to lie. Swedish snus is a no-brainer less harmful product than cigarettes, but not according to the federal government, and they ban companies from saying so.

    They completely ban nicotine sucker/lollipop things for adults, which is absolutely ridiculous when you think about it. Get your nicotine fix from a sucker, or smoke a cancer stick, (which I do and which is a mostly appropriate name for cigarettes)? Its a no-brainer cigarettes are worse than controlled, transparent nicotine suckers.

    Tobacco is a huge part of the drug war to me. We need truth. We need transparency. We need shared experiences. We need scientific experimentation and advancement. We need quality control and safety.

    We don’t need ideological dogma, including as it relates to tobacco. Next time some government propaganda bought nanny tells you how evil tobacco companies are how many people die from cigarettes realize that YOUR GOVERNMENT’S ban on free speech, science, and innovation in the tobacco is just as responsible. Sweden has the lowest smoking rate in the world. They use Swedish Snus, because they let science and truth guide them on that issue and let the companies show the science that snus were “less harmful than” cigarettes, something that can’t be done in the US.

    And here’s some of Chapman’s words that’ll reach more than I will for now.

    “That’s because most of the danger from tobacco actually comes from setting it afire and inhaling the smoke. Omitting that step makes a huge difference. A 2002 report by Britain’s Royal College of Physicians found that “the consumption of noncombustible tobacco is of the order of 10 to 1,000 times less hazardous than smoking, depending on the product.” The American Council on Science and Health puts the overall health risk at about 2 percent of that from sucking on a cancer stick.

    The Royal College of Physicians says that “the large majority of U.S. smokeless users do not in fact progress to smoking.” And if some American snuff users go on to become smokers, said the group, it may be because they are laboring under the delusion — lovingly preserved by federal policy — that cigarettes are no more harmful than smokeless tobacco. Right now, American smokers are stumbling around in a dense cloud of ignorance, misinformation and propaganda. Letting smokeless tobacco companies dispense truth would do a lot to clear the air.”

    Alright I feel better, thank you Pete for a comment section where I can vent enough in lieu of letters, press conferences, or even pressing the flesh with elected at a state capitol.

    This post reminds me of just how much one person’s voice can make a difference. How many people in the world pointed out the Drug Czar is required to lie, like Pete has? How many people are pointing out the things Steve Chapman just did about tobacco? Your voice can and will make a difference.

  3. allan420 says:

    In fact… it was the LTEs I read when I was first introduced to MAP and DrugSense back in 1997 or ’98, working for Bill Conde. I think the first LTE I read was from some guy named Redford Givens. And then there were others… names like Cliff Schaffer, Jerry Epstein, Dale Gieringer, even Lyn Nofziger weighed in on the issue ( )… and I thought, “damn, these folks are putting it all out there.” I thought their words bold, their ideas refreshing. And they sucked me in. MAP and there letter writing project was my drug policy meat and potatoes. I’ve helped countless people get published. I’ve worked w/ LEAP’s speakers helping them get published. All thanks to MAP.

    Y’all support MAP. Give ’em your time and your bucks if you have some. The DrugNews archive is an unprecedented success in activism. When the ONDCP tried a similar project several years ago they archived about 800 articles in 2 years. MAP’s DrugNews now contains well over 200,000 articles.

    Working with Rich Lake, Jo-D, Steve Heath, Olaf, Beth… these folks and many many more were my drug policy mentors. A tip o’ the Erickson hat to MAP and it’s obviously demented batch of editors, newshawks and letter writers. And a second hat tip to Pete and every one of you other rabble rousing, freedom loving, wwweb pirates with whom I’ve shared far, far too many hours kicking Prohibition butts across the globe and around the wwweb. You guys and gals rock.

  4. allan420 says:

    and… I stand in awe at the work of Robert Sharpe, Russell Barth, Kirk Muse… thousands of letters… holy shit. How’s them 1,00 points of light Mr. Bush?

    Another thing about letters (sorry, daughter is out, I’m up and chatty)… one of MAP’s points about a letter on the opinion page is its equivalent value of similarly placed advertisement in the same column size as an LTE. These letters are the equivalent of $1000 in advertising. Thusly… the total advertising dollar value of all our letters is: $29,094,876. Not bad for a batch of largely amotivational pot heads.

    Check out ALL the letter writers:

  5. Congratulations Russell Barth & Robert Sharpe for your hard work. Russell – I’ve seen your letters several times while reviewing the latest news in Canadian drug policy. As Allen points out, your efforts represent a huge amount of advertising $$$ (and yet your letters are certainly more credible than any ad).

  6. claygooding says:

    Thanks to all the letter writers. I haven’t written any letters except to my legislators and the prez,and one or two to the NYT editor. With my 10th grade education,I doubt that my skills and vocabulary up to their standards
    and since I don’t read the NYT,except when an article is mentioned from them,I don’t even know if either letter was published,no notification from them,so probably not.
    Anyone heard of a reporter named Stephenson Billings?
    He says I am a borderline criminal because of what I say about the US allowing the 2009 opium crop being sold and even suggesting that our government has any conspiracy to keep marijuana illegal. I consider it a feather in my cap.

    “America doesn’t have a marijuana problem,we can find marijuana in any town in America.”

  7. claygooding says:

    On the tobacco lies,I quit smoking cigarettes after 45 years of smoking with snus and snuff,and have not smoked a cigarette in 2 years. My copd will never go away,but it is not getting any worse. So I quit cigarettes,but not nicotine. I now use snuff when not in public and snus when I am in a restaurant or public setting,where a spittoon is unsightly.
    My VA health provider is quite satisfied with my accomplishment of quitting the smoking and agreed with me when I told her it took 40 years for the smoking to ruin my lungs,in another 40 years,when my bottom lip falls off,the women I date then won’t even notice.

  8. Hope says:

    A lot more than have been published. That’s for sure.

    I think I’ve had about five published and about three are archived at MAP. Maybe the shortest letter ever written and published… in New Zealand. One sentence. They printed it.

    During those years that I did write regularly, I had a goal of so many letters sent a week.

    Even if you don’t get printed, someone reads them. Unless, of course, they are so obtuse that they just delete them.

    I’ve slacked off… but others haven’t, thankfully. Thank you!

    I got a live call into a national television show, once.

    The letters to newspapers, I believe, have done so much good.

    There are some of you that have been regular dynamos.

    Thank you.

    You write fine, Clay. The Media Awareness Project has advice and pointers.

    The letter writing campaign has been extremely valuable over the years. It’s helped move the conscience of the entire world.

    Thank you again.

  9. @everybody — keep up the great work!

    @claygooding — all of us write letters that don’t get published. believe it or not, the style of your letter is not as important as its tone and content.

    i think the “best” letter you can write is the kind that does come from the heart. and a letter you write directly carries a lot more weight than a form letter. whether you do it on-line or on paper; and whether you write your own or sign on in a campaign, the thing that matters is that you do it. and it seems that more and more people are adding their voices to the chorus.

    so c’mon everybody — try to write a letter every now and then.


    for those watching the scoreboard, i guess i’m a bit of a bench warmer:

    7 of my published letters are in the MAP archive. i don’t know how many letters about the drug war i’ve actually had published, but they date back to the mid-80s. and the number i’ve written exceeds by far the number that made it to the opinion pages. some of the other letters i’ve had published are available on my site, including one of my favorites.

  10. Just me says:

    I would like to thank everyone that posts here, many of you say what I cant find the words to say. Im no journalist, writer as such. I post my thoughts for one reason,as some of you stated, to try and change peoples mind, to help them see what is right in front of them.

    So with that said, if my posts get alittle off, please, I dont mind if you help me see where I off. Maybe one day Ill write a letter to map.

  11. Hope says:

    When I went and looked, I was happy to see a few more letters that got published than I remembered. That’s cool.

    I sent hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, of letters that well seldom noticed. I had a daily goal of about ten letters to different papers in response to news I read at the Media Awareness Project.

    Something useful that happened back then was that I was into World Net Daily. I didn’t think it was all that weird then, and there was Joel Miller. I loved that guy. I need to check in on what’s happened to him.

    I avoid them and Drudge and have for a long time. But I enjoyed them back then. They got very unenjoyable.

    Of those letters, one was printed without notification and a phone call. I did get a couple or three phone calls to verify… but they didn’t show. Someone higher up nixed them, I’m sure.

    Why did I quit? My grandmother broke her leg. I could think of nothing else for about three months and I stayed with her a lot. I didn’t pick it up, so much, from where I had to lay it down.

    Don’t be willy nilly about letters you send off. Work on them. Reread them and study what you are saying… unless you just can’t… send it anyway.


    Control your anger when you are hoping to have a letter printed. It’s absolutely necessary.

    Watch with the curses, too.

  12. Hope says:

    Just me. Go to

    Bookmark it. There was a time when you could read every article in a matter of minutes. There are many articles per day now. The list you see is a list of every newspaper article printed in English anywhere in the world. Every day.

    Read and respond.

    Do it right. It’s the only way it will be read and considered seriously. They will want a name, address, and phone number. They will call you. Unless they don’t.

    As I recall, the Jamaican Gleaner printed my letter… email and all… without calling or verifying in any way. I did get some mail on that one.

    I also met a Jamaican lady with a restaurant and she sent me menus and photographs for her restaurant for years. We had some nice talks.

  13. Chris says:

    I had one letter to the editor published online (no idea if it was printed, though it was somewhat local). Good start in my opinion. Wasn’t on MAP though, great site.

  14. Dan Linn says:

    Not to mention the glory of possibly being selected the letter of the week in the Drug Sense Weekly

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