What: Letters to the editor (LTEs) are short, succinct pieces — typically 150-300 words — crafted by community members that appear in the opinion pages of newspapers and other publications. While the editorial staff selects which LTEs appear in their publications, it is helpful to think of your audience as much larger, addressing all members of the community including elected officials. LTEs give the writer a platform to share his or her thoughts on an issue of importance. The more personal your LTE, the more persuasive your voice will carry across the page, and the more likely it is to be selected for publication.
Where: Submit your letters to a nearby local or a statewide newspaper. Pasted below you will find some recommended newspapers as well as links to fillable web forms, email addresses, and specified word limits. Do not feel limited by this list; much smaller local and even neighborhood newsletters submissions are also influential.
- Delaware State News — 200 word limit; submit online at http://delawarestatenews.net/letters-to-the-editor/
- The News Journal — 250 word limit; submit online at http://static.delawareonline.com/submitletter/
- Cape Gazette— 650 word limit; email letters to [email protected], letters must be signed and include a phone number
- The Dover Post — no word limit; submit online at http://www.doverpost.com/submit&subtype=news
- The Newark Post — 250 word limit; submit online at https://newarkpostonline-dot-com.bloxcms.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/
When: Although some local newspapers may publish LTEs about ending cannabis prohibition at any time, your LTE may be more likely to be printed if it references a recent story.
Possible talking points: You may want to consider including one or more of the following points in your letter, ideally after reworking it to be in your own voice. Do not try to include too many different points in a single letter.
If you or a loved one has a personal story about how cannabis prohibition has negatively impacted your life, we recommend focusing on your personal story and need for this policy change. If you want to see Delaware make this change because it could significantly grow the economy, say that.
- When the legislature begins its 2017 session, it should pass a bill that would end marijuana prohibition and embrace a responsible system of taxation and regulation.
- Marijuana laws are enforced unevenly. African Americans are more than three times as likely to be prosecuted for marijuana crimes as compared to whites. Yet, studies show that both blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates.
- Delaware would generate tens of millions of dollars in excise tax revenue each year if it taxed and regulated marijuana. We have a $75 million budget shortfall in Delaware. Taxing cannabis could go a long way toward filling that hole, funding our schools and improving infrastructure.
- Marijuana is safer than alcohol. According to the CDC, six people die every day from alcohol poisoning. By contrast, marijuana has never caused a singled overdose death in documented history. Isn’t it time we stop penalizing people for using the safer substance?
- Without regulation, marijuana sellers are free to operate anywhere and have no incentive to not sell to minors. To better protect minors, we should seek to regulate the market that provides marijuana and ensure that our state’s most vulnerable are protected.
- Marijuana sold on the illicit market can be laced or contaminated. Both communities and consumers will be safer if marijuana is taken out of the dangerous criminal market and regulated like alcohol.
- Arresting and prosecuting marijuana consumers distracts law enforcement from targeting violent criminals. Let’s free up officers to pursue crimes with actual victims instead.
Need help? If you have a personal connection to the issue and you and need help crafting a LTE, let us know by emailing Maggie Ellinger-Locke at [email protected].
Let’s replace our failed marijuana prohibition policy with responsible regulation
To the editorial board:
It is time that we end cannabis prohibition and embrace a system of responsible regulation. Marijuana hasn’t always been against the law in our country. Prohibition was implemented as part of a racist program aimed at targeting African Americans, Mexican immigrants, and jazz musicians by the very first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger. Famously Anslinger once said, “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negros.”
Not only were our marijuana laws born of racism, they continue to be enforced unequally. A 2013 report by the ACLU found that in Delaware, African Americans are over 25% more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as compared to whites. And while our legislature did enact a decriminalization measure that went into effect in December 2015, there is no reason to think the unequal enforcement has ended.
That is one of the many reasons I urge my fellow Delawareans to contact their lawmakers and ask them to enact a bill that will remove marijuana from the criminal market and regulate its production and distribution.
A regulated system would strictly enforce legal age requirements for purchasing marijuana and require testing to ensure the safety of marijuana products. Further, regulating marijuana like alcohol could generate millions in revenue for the state and free up law enforcement time to deal with real crime. Let’s once and for all end the racist and failed policy first imposed on Delawareans nearly 100 years ago.