Thirty states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, while nine more (plus Washington D.C.) have legalized cannabis for recreational use, which means there are twenty states in which cannabis is still prohibited.
The push to end the prohibition of cannabis has always been framed as a human rights issue, primarily fueled by the general belief that people shouldn’t be left without access to medicine. While this past decade has been an extremely progressive one, with residents of California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington enjoying the freedoms and benefits of a thriving cannabis industry, too many Americans are being left out.
YOU can change that, and your opportunity is right around the corner: midterm elections.
Looking for effective things you can do to use your voice and advocate for cannabis legalization in your state? Here are just a few tried and true ideas that have helped get cannabis to where it is today.
Rock Your Vote
Midterm elections are happening on November 6th and cannabis-related issues will be showing up on ballots across the nation. In California, for example, there will be 82 different ballot measures that address cannabis in some regard, despite its legalization earlier this year.
In Michigan and North Dakota, voters will see the issue of recreational cannabis on their ballots, while in Utah and Missouri, medical cannabis will be coming to the table as a big voter issue. With these votes, we will hopefully see more green creep across the nation.
Not sure who to vote for? There are some great resources out there for finding the information you need to be an informed voter:
Green Market Report offers Bill Track 50, which is an up-to-date overview of pro-cannabis bills. This interactive map allows curious cannabis voters to click on each state to see trending cannabis-related bills, along with up-to-date accounts of actions on each bill and a list of sponsors.
The National Cannabis Industry Association provides voters with a Congressional Scorecard that shows the voting history of members of the House of Representatives on cannabis-related appropriations amendments and also identifies co-sponsors of the cannabis industry’s priority legislation in both the House and Senate.
This year, there are eight million more eligible voters than when President Trump was elected, and for the first time, millennial voters will outnumber baby boomers.
Start a grassroots effort in support of legalization
Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This was proven true in the case of Utah, whose residents are responsible for putting recreational cannabis on the ballot.
The Utah Patients Coalition, which has declared itself the voice of “sick and suffering Utahns” led the charge to gather enough signatures to have the issue of medical cannabis added to the ballots for midterm elections. This is a huge wake-up call for anyone who thinks that a small effort can’t lead to big results.
Reach out to like-minded people who also share your views on cannabis and start a fierce cannabis coalition!
Start a letter-writing campaign
Elected representatives have a duty to listen to their constituents, and your voice deserves to be heard.
Collect a group of like-minded individuals (or your newly-formed cannabis coalition) and together craft a message that will help you all reach out to your local or state representatives in a clear, consistent manner. Offer to visit their offices with educational materials about cannabis, and if you’re invited to do this, do your research! Nothing within any state can go forward without proven clinical research that supports why cannabis should be legalized for medical or recreational purposes.
Be persistent. Don’t just write one letter –follow up, follow up, follow up. Ensure that your voice and your cause don’t get lost amongst other issues.
Start a petition
Petitions are a tried and true way to bring issues to the forefront. Petition sites like Change.org, AVAAZ, and Care2 Petitions allow you to start your own petition, helping you to build awareness of issues that are important to you.
Use your voice within your circle
As with anything, word of mouth is the best way to spread information. While it may be difficult to speak openly about your views on cannabis within your personal or professional circles, making real change can’t happen if we keep our beliefs hidden away in the shadows.
Choose your style for “emerging green” and be prepared to answer a lot of questions and to become an ambassador for the cause. Hold dinner parties and educational sessions in your home and offer to share your knowledge and support should your guests decide to follow your lead.
The Power is in you
You have the power to create change and emerge as a strong advocate in your state for access to cannabis for medical and recreational purposes.
By engaging in some of the above tactics, accessing all your courage, and finding strength in numbers, you just may find yourself surprised by what a small group of people can actually accomplish.
Anne-Marie is a freelance cannabis writer and educator dedicated to cultivating and disseminating important knowledge about cannabis as legalization spreads across the globe. After earning her BA and Masters, she followed an exciting career in the research and education field, finding innovative ways to create collaborations between community needs and research and academic pursuits.
Based in Canada, she is a full time writer for the world’s best cannabis companies, advocates and organizations.