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Local Action strategies

by Clifford A. Schaffer

1. Contact your local media. Tell them about these web pages and the information on them.

2. Read the newspapers and respond.

Make it a point to read the largest newspapers in your area and be alert for drug-policy related news stories. Write short, punchy letters to the editor to make your views heard.

3. Contact the talk shows in your area.

Most TV and radio talk shows need a steady stream of controversial subjects to make the shows interesting. Sooner or later, they will all do a show on drug policy. Go through your TV listings and locate all talk and news shows. Call the stations and ask for the producers of the show. In most cases, it will surprise you how easy it is to get through. Tell them about the resolution and the people supporting it. Let them know that there are prominent people now willing to come forward and debate this idea publicly. Producers are probably extremely busy, so keep it short, punchy, and sweet. Have some juicy "sound bites" planned to stimulate interest. Follow up with a letter and printed material such as the things I have enclosed. Keep in touch with them every ninety days or so, just to make sure that they don't forget you.

If you get a spot on a good TV show and then don't know what to do -- call me. We'll work something out.

4. Develop a constituency.

Contact groups and members of groups to put on a presentation and persuade them to support the resolution. There are all kinds of groups which may support this resolution, each for their own individual reasons. They include African-Americans, ministers, doctors, medical patients, law enforcement officials, AIDS groups, and many others. Pick groups that you think you can persuade and then develop the issues which are most important to them.

5. Pick one influential person at a time and persuade them.

When you have persuaded them that it is time for a change, and that we should at least look at other drug policy options, get them to commit to going with you to persuade at least two more influential people. Use this technique to "move up the ladder" to more and more influential people.

Use the "intervention group" approach. Assemble a small group of people whom your target will view as influential and persuasive. Arrange a meeting where all can attend and have all those people ask the person to reconsider their point of view. Don't ask them to support legalization or decriminalization, because it is unlikely that you could persuade them in one meeting anyway. Just get them to admit that there is enough of a question about the issue that it is time to re-examine the evidence and commit to the investigation of the possibility of change.

6. Enlist your friends to create a steady "rain" of resolutions on the White House.

Get everyone to commit to sending a resolution a week. Keep it up until we get the commission. Let Clinton know that this resolution is not going to go away.

7. Develop phone networks to get people to respond when we need them to respond.

The National Rifle Association is powerful because, at any given time, it can bombard the President and Congress with millions of letters and phone calls. We need the same type of response.

8. Put on debates and seminars at colleges.

Colleges and universities often have philosophy, public administration, law enforcement, or political science professors who might like to put on a public forum or debate on drug policy. Call the local colleges and ask for the heads of these departments, or anyone else you think might be interested. Suggest the idea to them.

I have enclosed a sample speech from one of the debates I was in. You can edit it as appropriate to your needs. I have never had anyone make an intelligent comeback to that speech.

The enclosed charts can be blown up to 18 inch by 24 inch size by places such as Kinko's Copies for about $2.50 to $5.00 each, depending upon whether you get them on ordinary paper or on card stock. For large audiences, consider taking 35mm slide pictures of the graphs. If you are out in the middle of the woods and can't do either of those things, write to me and, if you pay for it, I will have it done for you.

The biggest problem you may have with this tactic is that the local gendarmes and prosecutors are becoming increasingly reluctant to come out in public and defend the drug war. They have been getting their butts kicked far too much lately and even the most fervent drug warriors are now having a hard time with their beliefs.

9. Contact local civic organizations.

In most towns, there are various local civic organizations that might want to have presentations on the drug war for any of a variety of reasons. Some of them will do it just for the entertainment value. Go through the phone book and locate the Rotarians, the Elks, etc. and ask them if they would be interested.

10. Write to and call your local Congressman.

Most members of Congress are chowder-heads, but there are some out there who are intelligent enough to read the facts and stand up for the truth. We won't know who they are until people like you can find them.

11. Produce Local Access Cable Shows.

You can become a producer for local access cable channels with as little as five hours of mostly free classes. Call your local cable company for information. Once you become a producer you can use their facilities to tape shows, or you can broadcast tapes which were prepared by others. We have already done this a few times and have a number of shows which can be made available to anyone who is hooked in to their local access cable channels.

12. Don't get discouraged.

It may take time to build your persuasive skills and even the best of us don't persuade everybody the first time around. Keep it up, despite the setbacks, and you will eventually prevail.


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