Every Patient Has Voice: Cannabis Advocacy 101
It’s incredible to stop and think about how far we’ve come in legalizing and normalizing cannabis. Today, we have 29 states with medical cannabis programs and nine states with recreational markets. In the past few years, cannabis reform has become a mainstream issue across the country. The tides are finally changing. However, our work isn’t close to being done.
Why is Cannabis Advocacy Important?
We would not be here today if it weren’t for the people who fought for decades before us. For years, grassroots activists, impassioned patients and policy organizations have been slowly, but surely pushing the agenda forward. They wrote letters and lobbied their representatives and garnered public support through community events and petitions. Their fierce dedication and hard work is why we are able to safely and freely use cannabis as a medicine today.
Every cannabis consumer should care about advocacy. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to better the world around us. Cannabis reform does not stop once a market is recreational. It is imperative that we work together to undo the far-reaching damage caused by the war on drugs.
Share Your Story
Without a doubt, one of the most impactful ways you can make a change is by sharing your story. Most former skeptics will tell you that they’ve come around because of a loved one healing with cannabis during a difficult time. Share your experience with your family and friends. If you’re comfortable with publicizing your consumption, get active on social media. Every time you interact with someone is an opportunity to change their mind.
Whether you’re speaking to a city official or your grandmother, be conscious of how you can most effectively reach that person. Your grandparent might respond better to hearing of other elderly patient’s success stories with cannabis over how lucrative the tax benefits may be.
Educate Yourself and Others
Knowledge is power. The more you learn about the plant, the more you will be able to educate others. Ask questions at your local dispensary. Cannabis research is ever-evolving, so do your research and stay informed. There are dozens of educational websites that are free and accessible. Follow industry thought leaders and progressive politicians to stay up-to-date on current issues.
Public support for recreational cannabis is rising. Now more than ever, people are wiling to listen. Share scientific facts and credible case studies with them. You’ll empower them to make their own decisions about cannabis.
Cultivate Your Garden
Though national reform is making strides, it’s just as important to reach your immediate community. A domino effect can be powerful. Write letters and meet with your local representatives. If you can’t schedule a one-on-one, try to attend public events, like town hall meetings and roundtable discussions.
Don’t be afraid to start small. Maybe you can’t attend lobbying days in D.C. or don’t feel comfortable broadcasting your love of cannabis on social media. But, you can still make an impact. Organizations like NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance are excellent resources for understanding current legislation and contacting your state representatives about cannabis reform.