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  How to Lobby in Washington, or Elsewhere


       A real good guide to political Lobbying,


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How to Lobby

My knowledge of cultivation may be lacking, but I’d like to share my expertise in the realm of politics. Between degrees, I spent a substantial portion of time working in the Senate, as well as in academic research. I’ll try to keep this first post short because I’ve been trained to write either sound bytes or treatises. If anyone has further questions, I will happily field them on this thread.

Your initial impression of lobbyists and legislators is that they are all shills. I can’t blame you for this impression, but I will tell you that 95% of them are trustworthy, hardworking people who are only trying to follow their conscience. They certainly defy logic sometimes, but remember that politics is a game of mutually-assured escalation. That is to say that if crime is the big issue, each of them want to be the first on the hill to think up a way to satisfy their constituents. The Republican from Idaho wants 300 tax cut? Hell, I want 500, so remember my picture in the paper when you vote! Public behavior is short-term and frivolous. It isn’t the legislators who are dumb, it is the constituents.

Don’t get mad at me for saying it, be happy- this is where lobbying gets a great deal of leverage. If only half the population votes, then you have double shares in governance. Because the average joe is a shmuck, it is easy for us, potheads that we are, to stand out as representatives of our community.

Overall, the tactics of successful lobbying have never changed. The first way to influence your legislator? Hand-write a letter with less than 100 words. If your letter is handwritten, it almost guarantees that the caseworker will put it on the mail pile the representative reads. This means that you reach the legislator, and not one of his or her caseworkers, secretaries, or mail workers.

You keep it short for an even better reason. Legislators typically get a daily or weekly folder of news clippings, which are made by annoying high-school interns who saved chore money to buy a briefcase. Think of your congressman on the shitter between two hours-long meetings. Does he read the immaculately arranged, Xeroxed, collated inch-thick stack of repetitive articles coming from small-town newspapers, all managing to rearrange the same handful of facts and bungle the story at the same time? No. What else goes into the folder from home? You guessed it- the handwritten letters. A one-page letter can be read walking down the hallway, on the john, during short car rides, before bed, in waiting rooms…

Nothing against NORML, but your congressperson already has a copy of the medical literature. They are well aware of every fact and figure you could produce. People vote because of emotional responses to vague impressions about legislators. Legislators react because of calculated responses to vague impressions about the people. There is a presmed rule of 200 that legislators use. For every well-written, polite letter that they receive from their home state, the legislator may assume that there are 200 more people who will vote the same way. So when you write a courteous letter, hippies get good karma. When you write a rude one, cancer patients go down a notch.

Don’t kiss any ass, and don’t roast their nads either. Do, however, thank the legislator for working so hard for the citizens of their state. Chances are that they’ve done something for you, whether you know it or not. "Dear Senator: while I may often disagree with some of your stances, I thank you for working hard at doing what you think is right for the state. " Next, express your genuine concern about the marijuana issue. "Once, I did not have an opinion/ I used to think that the drug war was a righteous cause…" Then list reasons for your opinion. If you have any personal stories or anecdotes, share them. Don’t worry about admitting that you smoke pot. No representative will have a potential supporter locked up. "I thought that way until I spent a year on my back with a spinal injury…" "That was until a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer…" "My older brother had a 4.0 and a full scholarship until he went to prison for a bag of weed no more dangerous than a few beers." Make a personal plea, but not too sharply- "I hope that you have the wisdom to know when a law has gone too far." "I don’t wish this on anyone, and I know you’d feel the same way if this struck your family."

I’m probably going on too long, but think about this old adage: It is easier to pull a string than push it. Be respectful, sober, and genuine.