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By Molly Muhs
Anyone who lived through “Reefer Madness” will probably tell you that they never expected to be buying marijuana over the counter or picking up their pre-order via drive-thru during their lifetime. If it wasn’t for organizations like NORML, Americans for Safe Access, and many others, we would not be where we are today. However, these large organizations aren’t the only ones pushing for cannabis reform. Patients, caregivers, growers, and even some health professionals have been working to reduce the stigma surrounding cannabis, fight racial inequality, extinguish the illicit market, and put an end to failed prohibition altogether.
While we can appreciate the steps taken thus far, we must also acknowledge that more needs to be done in order for everyone to have access to safe and legal cannabis. Below are some easy ways to get involved in cannabis advocacy.
Talk with your doctor
Talk with your doctor about your experience with marijuana, especially if it’s helping you!
According to a 2019 survey given to primary care providers, the majority of providers believed that cannabis is a legitimate medical therapy, but felt they were not prepared to answer patient’s questions regarding medical marijuana1. Maybe surprisingly to some, over 75% of providers were interested in learning more about medical cannabis. What does this mean? Most medical professionals are not adamantly against cannabis but rather do not know enough reliable information to feel comfortable recommending their patients try cannabis for relief. As cannabis conversations with medical doctors become more common, the stigma surrounding its use diminishes and we can truly start to utilize its medicinal properties.
Provide direct feedback to your state’s marijuana regulatory agency
This is hugely important, as states that are currently operating under a licensed market are setting the groundwork for what a successful legal marijuana market should look like if legalization ever hits the federal level. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for a comprehensive and publicly available medical marijuana program for residents. I personally believe that federal cannabis legalization is bound to happen sometime soon and when it does, laws and regulations will be written based on the state’s with the most successful programs already in place.
You may be hesitant to believe that your feedback will actually make a difference, but it will! Look at Michigan when in March of 2019, Governor Whitmer created the Marijuana Regulatory Agency via executive order to replace the Medical Marijuana Licensing Board – in part due to patient feedback. Patients were upset at the lack of flower and increase in price accompanying the board’s hesitance to approve licenses, so they spoke up and enacted change. Positive feedback is also impactful so let the MRA know what is working in the current system, as well as what’s not.
Vote! Vote! Vote!
Become an informed voter! Sites like Ballotpedia provide interactive tools to generate a sample ballot specific to your polling
location that allows you to research each individual candidate and initiative listed. Some candidates may specify their stance on cannabis issues directly on their campaign site, while others may require a little more research. The “Take Action” section on NORML’s website lists federal priorities related to cannabis legalization and criminal expungement, as well as state-by-state legislation efforts.
References and Links
1 Philpot, L. M., Ebbert, J. O., & Hurt, R. T. (2019). A survey of the attitudes, beliefs and knowledge about medical cannabis among primary care providers. BMC family practice, 20(1), 17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12875-019-0906-y