YOUR TOP 5 TOOLS FOR CANNABIS ADVOCACY.
DO YOU WANT CANNABIS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
How do you achieve the cannabis laws you want in your own town? How do you make your local lawmakers listen to your voice and your vote?
Two years ago, we asked ourselves these same questions and formed the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC) to empower community members and help them create the industry they voted for.
In November 2016, the same night Americans around the country cast their ballots for the office of the President, Massachusetts voters also approved Question 4 for the legalization of recreational marijuana. While cannabis users rejoiced at the opportunity to legally consume, we knew this was only the beginning of a long road ahead. The cannabis industry will not deliver the equity and justice sought by generations of activists—unless it is forced to. That’s where we come in.
MRCC is a non-profit 501c(4) which seeks to ensure the safety of recreational marijuana consumers by connecting communities, local legislators, and Massachusetts businesses. MRCC builds and unites cannabis advocates. We work at the state and local levels advocating for sensible recreational marijuana policy and regulations. We’ve created this guide for busy people who want to shape their quickly evolving industry.
WHAT IS ADVOCACY?
Advocacy is “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy (Oxford Dictionary).”
All politics is local. The key is realizing power rests not with the governing, but with the governed, the people. As a voter and a citizen, you have the power to influence your legislators. Question 4 didn’t succeed because politicians realized it was the right policy. It passed because the people demanded it and knocked on doors, phone-banked, and donated to help support it.
WHY IS ADVOCACY IMPORTANT?
Although Massachusetts voted to legalize marijuana for Adult-Use, 351 municipalities (aka cities & towns) have the ability to implement BANS (which disallow adult-use cannabis establishments) and MORATORIUMS (a waiting period for communities to develop local bylaws, committees, and zoning).
The Cannabis Control Commission frequently asks for public testimony regarding the development of the program. For these reasons, constituent participation is necessary for the development of a robust industry reflected by community interests. Without advocacy, the cannabis industry would have never existed. Without advocates, progress is limited, especially on the local level.
1. YOUR RESOURCES
Your best resource in advocacy is the internet. Use Facebook or Google to find the names and positions of your local municipal elected officials and their staff. Learn what different bodies make what rules and regulations, such as the select board, city council, planning board, and zoning board of appeals.
Read current cannabis news.
2. THEN WHAT?
When you identify your stakeholders, you then must develop your message and strategy.
What do you want for your community?
What do you want to fight for?
Use the internet to research laws in your state or in others for ideas. Identify the strengths or weaknesses of your policy and how you will persuade others.
WHAT DO WE SUPPORT?
MRCC opposes any bans and moratoriums in municipalities. We support rural farmers and reasonable zoning and local cannabis initiatives. We support one day and three day licensing for cannabis events.
Your message may differ depending on your town and the local issues important to your fellow citizens. The key is showing people how your vision will improve their lives and community.
3. I HAVE MY MESSAGE, WHAT DO I DO NOW?
- Contact your stakeholders or their staff directly to gauge where they stand on cannabis policy.
- Schedule a face-to-face meeting or a phone call so you can make your case. Show your lawmakers why your vision is the right policy—but also right politically. They need to be taught why voters will thank them. More important than the first meeting is the follow-up. Don’t lose your momentum! MRCC hosts community meetings to encourage political participation, assists members with municipal education campaigns, and uses social media to engage local residents around cannabis. Civic action is as much about speaking to your fellow citizens as your legislators.
4. MRCC RESOURCES
MRCC is committed to ensuring safe access to cannabis and building an equitable industry. Follow us on social media to stay updated on everything happening in your state:
- Facebook - @MAconsumers
- Instagram - @MAconsumers
- Website - www.MassRecCouncil.com
5. GET INVOLVED
Visit our event page and come to the next event. Change starts with an individual, all you have to do is show up.
Come to the next MRCC @maconsumersmember mixer, OCT 22, 2018. We will be discussing cannabis cafes and social consumption, and delivery. These rules for these types of establishments will be finalized October 2018.
And remember, #YOLO, you only legalize once.