medical symbolWhat: 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. Utah has five dailies, submission links or fillable web forms are pasted below as are specified word limits. Do not feel limited by this list; much smaller local and even neighborhood newsletter submissions are also influential.

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

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 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 had devastating side effects, you may want to explain that.

  • The Utah House of Representatives and Gov. Gary Herbert should show compassion for suffering patients by approving medical cannabis legislation this year.
  • 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.
  • Several states, including Arizona, Montana, and Minnesota, have shown that they can create well-regulated medical cannabis programs without creating problems.
  • Minnesota currently has the strictest medical marijuana law in the country. SB73 proposes a program that is very similar; under the bill, smoking and marijuana flowers are banned.
  • Studies show that many patients suffering from AIDS, Alzheimer’s, ALS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, MS, PTSD related to military service, or chronic pain can find relief from cannabis. These are the conditions covered by SB73.
  • Forty-seven percent of Americans live in one of the 23 states that allow the doctor-advised, medical use of cannabis. Utah patients and doctors deserve the same medical freedom.
  • Seventy-two percent of Utahns support allowing medical cannabis, as do several health, medical, and religious organizations, including 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 Maggie Ellinger-Locke at Maggie@mpp.org.

Example:

The House of Representatives Needs to Pass SB73

Last week our Senate passed two bills seeking to establish a medical marijuana program. Now these bills are before the House of Representatives, which should vote in favor of the more comprehensive bill, SB73.

Four years ago I fell 12 feet and hit a steel beam, breaking my neck and back. I am lucky I can still walk. After many therapies, hundreds of prescribed opioids, and thousands of prayers, I remain in constant severe pain. My doctors prescribed opioids, but these caused me to lose weight, throw up blood, left me unable to work or function, and caused terrible withdrawals and insomnia.

Then a friend suggested that I try medical marijuana. I’d never tried an illegal drug before, but I needed relief—illegal or not. Suddenly I was able to work and began putting my life back together. Medical marijuana has improved my quality of life far more than anything I’d tried before.

I hope that the House will show compassion for the 100,000 Utahns seeking relief for medical conditions; not seeking to use drugs recreationally. Please urge your representative to vote yes on SB73.

Sincerely,

Brian Stoll
West Jordan, Utah