Nine Steps To Change Any Law (And Cannabis, Too!)
America feels sick, and to cure it, we need to be good citizens and take care of our country. It includes participation in the law-making processes on all levels. It may seem daunting but getting involved in creating and supporting legislation at a local level may seriously change the situation.
Here are nine tips how to make a difference and work to introduce or change a local (cannabis) law.
1. Identify The Issue
Concerned with cannabis laws? Want to be a city council member? Decided to hold police accountable? Whatever your cause, identify it and don’t be shy to be passionate about it.
If it is cannabis, start with pushing a new law about decriminalization. Decriminalization is a major step, but you should be careful — do not allow your law to supersede the state law. In this case, it will be overturned.
2. Research It
When something really annoys you, it is worth doing a little digging on the legislative history of this particular topic. What happened to this issue before? Has the law changed many times? Did it use to be better? Who decided on it?
You may find that the issue comes from an entirely different cause and requires an entirely different approach to the problem. It makes easier to adequately address it, as it happened with Georgia’s cannabis oil registry. In 2014 Georgia allowed the use and possession of cannabis oil for a medical reason, but the law was vague. It took two years to draft and introduce a new bill to outline clear rules and make the program work.
3. Find Allies
It sounds like a nightmare for introverts, but this is where you need to get out and talk to people. If it daunts you, encourage your friends to get politically active, too. Go to local city meetings, attend meetings for public input, take notes, write letters to your representative, ask for their support on the issue. Contact groups of concerned citizens who may support your efforts.
4. File an Initiative
This is not always possible but if you have an opportunity, make a draft of the most important points related to the issue. Drafting legislation is hard, so consider inviting an attorney or city council member to help develop it. Contact a local community group that supports the issue to find out if they are willing to help you draft the bill or file an initiative.
5. Get Out And Persuade
It may involve testifying at council meetings, contacting local groups, and gathering signatures on the street. The main thing is to get the word out and gain enough support within the community and local government to help pass your initiative.
A broad range of citizens from varying demographics often support cannabis decriminalization and showing that you are backed up by a diverse group of people will signal to officials that this issue is important to a significant portion of the community.
6. Get Ready To Defend Your Point
There will always be opposition and a point to your counterpoint. Prepare to answer any questions that may arise. Do your research and keep statistics close, so you have the knowledge to back up your point.
Practice speaking in favor of your initiative and anticipate critique. It will help you firm your reasons for supporting the proposal and improve your public speaking skills.
7. Get Loud
Get the word out about your suggestion in any way you can. Schedule a meeting with a local newspaper to ask if they would want to publish an op-ed. Contact bloggers, media outlets like local radio and TV-stations, and let them know about your efforts.
The story of Charlotte Figi, the little girl who treated her seizures with a high-CBD strain, has inspired laws across the US after it was aired on CNN in 2013. Even Southern and Midwestern states signed it into law — and we all know what they think about cannabis out there.
8. Be Patient
Policy changes at a local level happen faster than at a federal level. However, it still takes months for your initiative to get approved, and getting noticed by voters or local politicians may also take some significant effort.
Be patient and persistent. Do not lose hope if you fail for the first time. Adjust your strategy and keep moving. For example, Arkansas cannabis advocates have fought for five years to introduce both medical and adult-use measures. After seven rejections Little Rock attorney David Couch secured a spot on the ballot with Issue 6 to legalize medical marijuana, and it was passed by voters and enacted into law in 2017!
9. Don’t Give Up
No matter how many times you feel like giving up, don’t. If you passionately believe in your cause, it is worth your time and effort to make this policy change. Be willing to compromise, re-group, and get ready to fight relentlessly.
This post is based on this article.
(Sweedsy in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)