How to Talk to Your Representatives About Marijuana in Texas
Posted on: January 23, 2015
In Texas, the only way to pass laws is through the state legislature. If you want to legalize marijuana, you have to contact your elected officials and ask them to support marijuana law reform. Here are a few ways you can do that effectively.
Who Represents Me?
Along with our U.S. Congressman and Senators, every Texan has a state Representative and a state Senator based on what district they live in. Find out who represents you by entering your address here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx
The website of the Texas Legislature lists the contact information for your lawmakers, for both their local and their Capitol offices. When the legislature is in session, which occurs every two years, you should contact your elected officials at the Capitol. The rest of the time, they should be available to see you at their home office.
How Do I Contact My Representative?
There are several beneficial ways to contact your lawmakers. You can send a form email, when can be found on the website for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy here: http://texasmarijuanapolicy.org/take-action
You can also personalize an email, or send a handwritten letter. Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy also has some factual talking points to help make your argument.
You can also pick up the phone and call your lawmaker’s office. Since the 2015 session begins on January 13, you should call them at the Capitol. Tell the staffer who answers the phone that you support HB 507, a bill that was recently introduced by Representative Joe Moody from El Paso. This bill would change the penalty for marijuana possession by adults. Individuals would no longer be jailed for possession of an ounce or less. They would not be arrested or receive a criminal record, and would instead face a fine of up to $100.
The staffer will make a record of everyone who calls to support of that bill, and your opinion in favor of HB 507 will be counted along with everyone else who calls in. However, if you want to make the biggest impact on your lawmakers, you should visit them in person. An in person visit to a representative sounds intimidating at first. Many people fear outing themselves as a marijuana consumer, and are worried about the kind of attention that might bring. Some people are afraid that they will be put on the spot, and forced to go on the defensive and answer tricky questions about legalization. But, that is simply not the case. No activist I’ve ever known who has visited their elected officials has ever faced any negative legal backlash from it. And if you think that you don’t know enough to answer questions about marijuana, don’t worry! We have plenty of educational material, and people who will help you learn it and get comfortable with it, so when you talk to your representative, you are confident, knowledgeable, and effective in delivering the message of legalization.
Additionally you could ask for the representatives to support a “whole plant medical marijuana bill” that is currently circulating the halls of the Capitol and seeking a sponsor. If we are able to find a Republican to sponsor this bill, it would be a huge victory for Texas patients.
How Should I Prepare to Meet My Elected Officials?
You will have several chances to meet with them during the 2015 session, and you will not have to do it alone! DFW NORML has joined forces with Texas NORML and other grassroots legalization groups to put our resources together and make sure as many people as possible are able to visit their lawmakers and talk about marijuana law reform.
On February 18, the Citizen Lobby Day hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is open to everyone. You must RSVP for their event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/388055224694995/
What Else Do I Need to Know?
The most important thing you should remember when contacting your elected officials is to be respectful. You should never get angry or emotional. Always speak politely, and do not badger or accuse. If your lawmaker has questions or concerns about legalization that you cannot answer, write down their question and make sure you find out the answer to it as soon as possible.
When you visit you lawmakers in person, you should dress as if you are going to a job interview. You should be clean and your hair should look neat. If you do not have clothes that you could wear to a job interview, we can help you locate clothes that you can borrow. Make it personal. If you are a patient who could benefit from medical marijuana, explain that to your representative, and present studies that show its healing benefits. Present yourself as a concerned parent, a business owner, a student, or whoever you are. That will help you make a connection.
Our goal is to change the laws here in Texas. The number one thing you can do to help achieve that goal is to talk to your elected officials. Still don’t know what to say? Here’s a short video by DFW NORML Executive Director Shaun McAlister that shows you exactly how to do it.
TALKING TO YOUR REPS
TALKING ABOUT HB507