As the House of Representatives prepared to take historic votes on drug policy, DRCNet didn't just observe and report on it. DRCNet's action alert network sprang into action and got letters and phone calls flowing into Congress. Our work along with that of many other organizations working on these issues had a clear and positive impact on the votes.
On Monday DRCNet launched letter-writing campaigns on medical marijuana (http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/) and Plan Colombia (http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/stopthehelicopters/), issuing an action alert to this list asking our readers to visit the web sites to send e-mails and faxes to their US Representatives and the President, and to also call their Reps' offices on the phone.
Early Wednesday afternoon, we used our separate action alert list (people who've participated in web-based DRCNet action alerts since January 2001) to contact supporters in two congressional districts in Washington state whose Reps' votes were in doubt, according to information received from MPP, and we sent a similar action alert to Washington state subscribers to this list.
And later Wednesday afternoon, after learning the Colombia vote was likely to take place that night, we sent an alert to our full action alert list, urging more e-mails and phone calls. We took the opportunity to try out new features of the system we're using to try to increase participation. Each subscriber received a personalized message which identified that person's own US Rep. and the phone number of the Rep's office. And, for the first time, the action alert included a copy of the sample letter in the e-mail itself, which members could edit and send to their Reps and the President by replying to the alert itself.
Our final numbers were over 1,000 members sending e-mails or faxes to Congress on Plan Colombia and over 1,250 on medical marijuana. We have no way of knowing how many people made phone calls, but those who took the time to write back and let us know they made calls numbered about 130. This is a good contribution made by DRCNet members, including many receiving this newsletter, particularly given the last-minute nature of this particular call to action and the fact that many other groups were sending out alerts on the same issues at the same time, some of whose memberships overlap with our own.
More is needed, however, to go beyond progress to reach actual victory. Monday we will use the personalization features of our system to send out a "thank or spank" alert letting people know how their individual Reps voted on each of the two amendments, providing e-mail letters for them to send and phone numbers for them to call. And sometime next week or the following, we will distribute an action alert opposing the Senate version of the Latin American drug war funding package, the Andean Counterdrug Initiative. Will 2,000 of you respond to that one, with more time available in which to do so? How about 5,000? Or 10,000? It all depends on you.
Last but not least: DRCNet needs your financial support to continue to offer legislative services such as action alerts and our vote-tallying spreadsheet made available online to all interested parties (linked to in each of the last two articles), to do more of this crucial, action-oriented grassroots organizing, and to continue to pay for our sophisticated online action alert system with the powerful features described above that increase participation. Please visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to support DRCNet's action alert program today! Donate $35 or more and you can receive a free copy of "Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America" by the Cato Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter. Donate $60 or more and get two copies, one for yourself and one for a friend or for the foreign policy staffer in your Congressman's office.
Thank you for being a part of drug policy change.