Cops say legalize pot - ask me why
With those words emblazoned on my white T-shirt I
made about 1,500 contacts in the year 2000. In line at the store,
sitting in a restaurant, walking through a mall and a dozen other
locations, I influence thousands of people. In addition to the
personal contacts, I estimate that about 50,000 persons have
read the shirt. I wear the shirt about 60 hours per month. Anyone
can do this.
The shirt you want to wear similar to mine may cost you as much
as $25 at your local T-shirt store. Yours can say:
MOMS SAY or DADS SAY or TEACHERS SAY or JUDGES SAY.
I use three colors to help me stand out. COPS SAY is in blue;
LEGALIZE POT is in green (naturally) and ask me why is black.
I have the same words on the back with one difference; I put
the ask me why at the top so people see it and know it is okay
to bother me when I am sitting.
When someone asks me why, I normally only have a maximum of 30
seconds to start converting them from Drug Warrior to Drug Reformer.
I state two basic reasons while answering their question. First,
we want to eliminate drug dealers and their influence on our
kids. This answer immediately puts you on the same side as the
listener; of course everyone wants to eliminate drug dealers.
Now the listener knows you are not a wacko fanatic.
Second, police officers want to put drunk drivers in jail. Our
detectives want to arrest child molesters and rapists, not chase
a drug that has never killed anyone. At that point I let the
listener make comments or ask questions. If that 30 seconds develops
into a 1-2 minute conversation, I then show them a business card
indicating membership in Drug Policy Forum of Texas.
At the end of the encounter, most people keep my card. Whether
I present a card or not, my final statement is, "Please
write a letter to the Governor, c/o Postmaster, Austin, Texas.
It will take ordinary people like you and me to change drug policy."
In addition to changing minds and recruiting new members, it
always feels good to do something publicly almost every day.
Many of those who ask why, thank me for my efforts.
(Howard J. Wooldridge is drug war activist
and retired police officer living in Texas. If you want to communicate
with Howard J. Wooldridge, his telephone number is (817) 431-7070,
and his email address is email@example.com.)