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 an LTE, the more persuasive the voice will carry across the page, and the more likely it is to be selected for publication.

Where: Submit letters to a nearby local or a statewide newspaper. Some of these papers’ websites have a submission form link under “submission forms” at the bottom of the home page; others can be found via “contact us.” Some possibilities for where to submit letters include:

When: Although some local newspapers may publish LTEs about medical cannabis at any time, an LTE may be more likely to be printed if it references a recent story written on the topic.

Possible talking points: 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 is a patient who could benefit from medical cannabis, we recommend focusing on your personal story and need for this law. If other medicines haven’t worked or have resulted in devastating side effects, you may want to explain that.

  • The South Carolina Legislature and governor should show compassion for suffering patients by approving medical cannabis legislation this legislative session.
  • Patients and their doctors should be trusted to decide if medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment, just as they are allowed to do for far more dangerous drugs, such as opiates.
  • Twenty-nine states, including Florida, Arkansas, and most recently West Virginia, have enacted compassionate medical cannabis programs.
  • Studies show that many patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, and severe pain find relief from cannabis.
  • Sixty-two percent of Americans live in one of the 29 states that allow the doctor-advised, medical use of cannabis. South Carolina patients and doctors deserve the same medical freedom.
  • Several health, medical, and religious organizations support allowing medical cannabis, such as the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Methodist Church.

Need help? If you have a personal connection to the issue and you need help crafting an LTE, let us know by emailing state@mpp.org.


Example:

 

April 28, 2017

Cannabis is medicine

The 2017 legislative session is almost over, and I would like to highlight a bill that will help our most vulnerable South Carolina citizens, The Compassionate Care Act (S 212/ H 3521). This bill would allow legal and safe access to medical cannabis for patients who have their doctors’ recommendations and are suffering from one of the listed debilitating conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis.

While 78% of South Carolina residents support patient access to medical cannabis, a small but vocal minority opposes passage of a compassionate state-regulated program. These opponents claim that cannabis is not medicine, but the National Academy of Sciences disagrees, and the New England Journal of Medicine found 76% of doctors would recommend it to a patient.

My daughter Kira was born with a severe developmental delay, autism, and an extremely rare genetic disorder. I recently traveled to the State House to tell her story to lawmakers. After trying countless prescription medications — some of which had terrible side effects or actually worsened her symptoms — we tried hemp oil, a low-THC option, which finally provided Kira some relief.

However, she still has daily outbursts of violent behavior that impede her learning at school. Kira has not tried the cannabis oil that includes THC because it is not legal in South Carolina. We would like the right to decide, with Kira’s doctor, if medical cannabis is a viable treatment option for her. We are hopeful it will decrease her violent outbursts, increase her appetite, and alleviate her pain.

South Carolina is now our home, and we do not want to be forced to leave the state for a safe and effective treatment option that is already available to 62% of Americans. My daughter deserves that same access and so do all the other children and adults who are suffering from debilitating illness in this state. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have stood up for patients; it is time for South Carolina to do the same.

South Carolina patients should not be kept waiting.

Sincerely,

 

Judy Ganhem, Murrells Inlet