Growing The Vote: How Every Election Can Be Victory for Marijuana
5 tips on how you can turn every Election Day into a victory for marijuana reform.
By Bridget Saunders
There is this secret place. It’s exciting to visit, a place where we all get to wield an almost magical power. I get tingles every time, like meeting a lover. When the curtain closes behind me in the voting booth, I am in charge of this country.
Cannabis consumers, the moment is ours. Although we go separately in every town, hamlet and city, on November 4th we all act together.
Politicians are courting our vote and the nation is relying on us to take action. We are a hot commodity too. Because we come from all ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and economic classes, the Cannabis Voting Block is now one of the most powerful forces in American politics since the end of Suffrage.
Every day the women and men running for office look at sheets of numbers or polls. We are dominating them. Approval of medical marijuana runs above 80 percent in most states. Let that sink in for a minute. Those very same politicians will pop champagne bottles and kiss the interns when their personal approval ratings top 35 percent. No other issue or single candidate polls higher – not even by a long shot.
When it comes to full legalization the nation is split evenly, at least in telephone polls. Fifty-fifty may seem like there is still a long way to go, yet other important social triumphs have energetically run across the finish line on far less.
We may be leading the charge because of our personal dogs in the fight, but make no mistake, we are not in this fight alone. Many of our fellow Americans, who may not ever roll a joint, are also fed up with prohibition. It is our job to join forces with these like-minded individuals to secure success.
Very soon a few states and cities will have the opportunity to change the law directly on the ballot. Oregon and Alaska, it’s time for you to join Colorado and Washington with full legalization.
Washington DC voters could turn the nation’s capitol a whole lot greener with a ballot initiative for full legalization. Think of how interesting that would be!
Florida voters could bring medical access to their friends, family and neighbors who need non-pharmaceutical relief.
Still, many states do not have such a straightforward process. Only about half of the country can vote on laws while the rest must rely on politicians in their statehouses. In these states, the time is now at hand to retire the prohibitionists of the past. You can give the pink slip to all those old-school, behind-the-times jerks who make your blood boil every time they spout ancient misinformation about marijuana. All it takes is the pull of a lever or the push of a button. Poof! They’re gone.
Some of the folks on the stump are getting wise to the advantage. In a hotly contested race for Governor in Pennsylvania, local businessman Tom Wolf came out early in support of decriminalization and medical access. His opponent, incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett, is set in his opposition to reform and he will lose. Taking all other factors into account, Corbett will likely go back to private life solely because he is against marijuana legalization.
How do we smash the final bricks in this wall? Here are five tips to grow the vote:
5 – Ask questions
In the final weeks of the campaign season, politicians are out in communities, in the media and holding debates. Attend their public functions and ask them questions about marijuana reform. When they are kissing babies at the local diner, shake their hands and quickly pose a question. Most important: Get it on camera. Record video of the interaction and share it on social media. Let everyone know. Another approach is to call in to radio programs and attend town hall forums. Wear t-shirts and buttons promoting marijuana and snap photos with candidates. Don’t be timid, push for real answers. Engage them with the issue, and it will pay a hefty return of tangible change.
4 – Talk it up before, during and after you toke it up
This is not the time to be a silent majority. Now is the time to be the voice of The People. When you are out in public, talk about supportive candidates or ballot issues with your friends and family. In line at the movie theater or coffee shop, don’t be shy about having a constant conversation about cannabis politics. You will be heartened and empowered when you find out how many complete strangers are, in fact, fellow reformers. Use your personal Facebook page, Twitter feed or Instagram accounts to shamelessly promote the cause by sharing links or even creating memes. On November 5th, we can all go back to our cat videos.
3- Raise funds
Let’s face it, money runs politics. While it may seem to be the game of billionaires, the truth is that localized donation events are still the bread and butter of politicians. Holding a living room meet-up to pull together $500 for a candidate will get their attention and fast. Get creative too. Stage bike rides, comedy shows or even an art auction. If it is a ballot initiative, then raise some cash and give some to the campaign, maybe spend the rest on flyers, signs or other awareness tools. If you have spent even $1 this year on marijuana you should spend another $1 legalizing it. Our economic power, as consumers, can easily out-match the Koch brothers.
2- Hold the line
Because marijuana is such an important new issue, many politicos are looking for a compromise platform or middle-ground position. Some politicians support reform but also support mandatory substance treatment for cannabis consumers. This is a big no-no. CBD-only laws, no-smoke medical cannabis laws or heavily restricted legislation are bad examples to follow. We have seen too many good laws get poorly regulated. But following the steps above can help. Elected officials, once in office, will remember the passionate voices they hear on the campaign trail.
Your finger is truly the most powerful weapon in politics. Get educated and get to the polling stations. Visit www.norml.org or www.safeaccessnow.org to find out information about candidates and issues then visit your local election commission website to find your personal voting booth. The shrinking opposition would like nothing more than for you to sit on the sidelines. Ending prohibition and crafting reasonable policies will not happen in a single election. But the thrill of participating in Election Day is always crisp.
Victory is a delicious dish, meant to be shared. Never skip your seat at the table.