The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SoDakNORML attempts to reason with legislature

Today I sent out the following message to about 2500 people who have requested to be on the SoDakNORML mailing list.

Most of you received a message a few days ago describing a new project for SoDakNORML. We intend to mail a letter about once a week to all So. Dak. legislators and candidates between now and the election November 6, and continue to send similar letters to the 105 people elected or re-elected to the So. Dak. legislature about once a week until the 2013 session starts in January.

A draft of the first letter is below. In response to comments we received about our first message a few days ago, we have tweaked it a little.

Subsequent letters will pick up on the points made in the first letter, as well as on other arguments. The object is to educate those who are elected to push us around, or maybe I should say elected to govern us. We believe that it will be difficult for the legislature to maintain the current policy on cannabis Prohibition after its members have read these letters.

We think that repetition and short, hard-hitting propositions and arguments will be more effective than a single letter explaining our position on Prohibition.

The number of current legislators and hopefuls is about 205. That translates into about $95 per mailing just for postage. Add labels and envelopes and printer supplies and we're up to about $125-$135 per mailing until the election. After the election, we'll be down to about $55-$60 per mailing.

The maximum out-of-pocket cost for the campaign, if we manage to send one letter a week (17 weeks), will be about $1600.

We received commitments for cash donations for about four weeks worth of mailings as a result of the message most of you received a few days ago, although we haven't received the donations yet.

In addition to the out-of-pocket expense, we asked for volunteers to fold letters, stuff envelopes with them, and place a return address label and an address label and a stamp on each envelope. We'll print the letters here at SoDakNORML's lavish office complex and mail them with printed labels, envelopes and stamps to the volunteers. The volunteers will fold, stuff, address and stamp the letters and mail them from their local So. Dak. post office (MUST be a So. Dak. post office). Having done this a lot, we estimate that the task will take 3-5 hours for each mailing.

After the message we sent a few days ago, we received three offers from recipients to fold and stuff for at least one mailing. It would sure be nice to hear from a few more of you on that. We also received one commitment to allow us to use a constituent's name as a co-signer of our letters. That person's name appears at the end of the draft letter below. Cosigners from South Dakotans will help convince legislators to listen, even more than the actual content of the letters.

Given the paltry cost of this campaign, the least expensive we have conducted, and very likely to be the most effective, your contribution of $5, $10, $20 or $50 will be a significant portion of the cost. Dig deep and give 'til it's almost painful. SoDakNORML sincerely believes that this campaign will have a real and beneficial effect on the way cannabis users who encounter unpleasant situations with the law because of their use are treated by the State of South Dakota after the next legislative session.

You can send checks or well-wrapped cash to
24594 Chokecherry Ridge Rd
Hermosa SD 57744

You can send donations via PayPal to PayPal ID . We know of no law requiring disclosure of contributions for this project, and we shall not disclose the names of contributors to anyone.

We'll continue to keep everyone on this list up-to-date on our progress. We'll post details of the campaign at our website, also. We'd like to send the first group of letters by next Monday, Sept. 10.

Best regards, everyone.
Bob Newland for SoDakNORML

A draft of the proposed first letter follows:

24594 Chokecherry Ridge Rd
Hermosa SD 57744

Sept. XXX, 2012

City, SD, 57xxx


We believe you want what is best for the majority of South Dakotans. We do, too.

That said, we see no benefit in punishing people with criminal laws and prosecution for using cannabis ("marijuana" is the legal term, a slang term chosen from the vernacular for its sinister sound). Further, we see a great deal of harm being done --to the majority of South Dakotans as well as to those directly affected by arrest and prosecution-- to no apparent purpose.

Current laws regarding cannabis achieve several effects, none of them beneficial.

1. The prices users pay for cannabis is inflated roughly 1700 per cent by the "risk" factor involved in producing, transporting and marketing the product. This benefits the most vicious people on Earth, while making the distribution of the product completely ungovernable.

2. Distribution of cannabis to minors is therefore inevitable. A legal market in cannabis among adults could allow regulations making it more difficult for children to obtain it. The current system guarantees the opposite.

3. The benefit of cannabis to a wide age of people with a wide range of adverse medical conditions is apparent. While cannabis is easily obtained by healthy, active people, it is much harder for a person in a wheelchair to make the contacts necessary to obtain what might be life-sustaining aid from cannabis. One intense irony of current policy is that it denies access to cannabis most efficiently to those whom are most in need of its benefits.

We believe, for these and other reasons, that it goes counter to any interpretation of sound public policy to maintain criminal punishments for anyone for ingestion of cannabis. We believe that adults have the inherent right to ingest cannabis (or anything else they want to ingest). We believe that those accused of possession of "marijuana" should have the right to present evidence of medical use in court and to have juries determine justice from the evidence. We believe that any steps in the direction of improving South Dakota law along these lines is a step in the right direction and we will vigorously support legislators who undertake those steps.

"We" are SoDakNORML, the South Dakota Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. We are comprised of thousands of South Dakotans arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, frightened, amused, angered, or marginalized as a result of cannabis Prohibition, a policy so absurd in its derivation and results that it defies characterization.

On behalf of any of the folks described above who want to endorse these sentiments, I am

Bob Newland
President, SoDakNORML

P.S. Please read the essay on the politics of cannabis at the following website: (the capital P is important).

Co-signed by:
Jesse Grimm, combat veteran, Hot Springs


Duffer said...

If I may offer a suggestion . . . .

Hold some of your powder in reserve, maybe the larger portion.

Should Initiative 64 pass in Colorado (to say nothing about the Oregon legalization initiative and the much-maligned (Prosecutor written) I502 in Washington State), all in just 9 weeks time . . . you will have much stronger footing on which to base your appeal/argument.

The folks in our legislature, as you know, act and vote much more conservatively than the average folks that send them there. The Colorado vote for outright legalization, in particular, may serve to catch their attention - well, some of them anyway.

Work from a position of greater strength . . . patience.

I've been watching these State efforts, as well as Court reactions to legislation and zealous U.S.(Obama) Attorneys, closely for some time. The smarter money now is moving toward outright legalization. Obama has apparently already made some type of move to sell-out the (medical) avenue.

Just sayin.

These State initiatives go the way the polls are indicating, I'll be there with support too.

Thank you for your efforts.

Bob Newland said...

We have more powder than they have water.

They have, in fact, NO data with which to counter our arguments.

larry kurtz said...

Duff: you da human. Related story.