One of the most effective ways to raise public awareness of these issues is to increase the amount of media coverage and the best part is that each of us can contribute very directly to this effort. By writing a Letter to the Editor or an Editorial for your local media you not only get our message to the public in your community (and online) but you also get the journalists at that outlet thinking about patient perspectives.
Hopefully the next time they are writing an article about cannabis they’ll remember your letter and think “Maybe I should include a quote from a medical cannabis patient in this article.” Those effects can snowball and help us get medical cannabis patients in the conversation.
It might seem daunting to write your first letter to your local paper but we’re here to offer some advice and guidance to help you and once you’ve got one published there will be no stopping you.
Find your local paper’s contact information and requirements
Letters to the editor are usually a few hundred words long but you will want to make sure your local paper doesn’t have any more specific requirements. You can check our list of links to the largest papers Op-ed and Letters to the Editor submissions for reference. Once you know their requirements and contact information you can start writing. If you don’t see your local paper listed, you can simply search for “how to submit a letter to the editor NAME OF PUBLICATION” or “how to submit an Opinion piece to NAME OF PUBLICATION”. If there are no instructions on their website for submission, you can reach out to the Editor or the Opinion Editor and ask them how to submit.
Why local papers?
Members of Congress, as well as the DNC and RNC that set party agendas, focus on what is happening in their state more than what is reported in national press. Also, if we are successful in getting coverage in many states, it will increase the likelihood of larger stories in national press.
What should my Letter to the editor say?
Opinion pieces vs Letters to the editor
Opinion pieces are longer usually between 500-800 words and there are fewer of them published. Letters to the editor are shorter and usually run in response to something that the paper has published. Check the paper for specific guidelines, see links below.
Make it relevant
If you are able to connect your letter to a recently published article you have a much better chance of being published. Look for articles about adult-use/recreational laws, issues with the medical cannabis program, or comparisons to cannabis laws in other states. If you can’t find a direct connection you can add some context of your own like: “Many people are debating allowing access to cannabis to all adults but it is easy to lose sight of the medical cannabis patients who won’t be served by those laws.”
Make it personal
Make sure you include some information about the issues that medical cannabis patients still experience, your fears about adult-use laws, and what led you personally to advocate for medical cannabis. Without including your whole life story, of course.
Add a critique
Review our reports and materials for policy solutions
Add a solution
This is the easy part; just tell folks that there is a list of policies that your state can adopt and Americans for Safe Access have already developed them.
Give it a snappy title
If you’ve managed to connect your letter to an existing story you can simply use Re: [The name of the article], if not then you’ll need to get a tiny bit more creative. You want something that is fairly short, very direct, and a little confrontational.
- [State]’s new cannabis law will leave medical patients behind
- We need smarter cannabis laws to better serve patients
- [State] should be doing more for medical cannabis patients
And submit your letter
That’s really all there is to it. If your letter is published please let us know at [email protected] and if it isn’t published please keep trying. Your paper will run more cannabis stories and you can keep tweaking your letter. Keep an eye out for how you can connect their coverage to the issues patients are facing and keep pushing a patient perspective.
Keep in touch!
Send ASA an email to let them know it has been published. Include a link! Send email to: [email protected].
Spread the word!
Post your LTE to social media after it is published and tag ASA
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