If you’re a cannabis user living in one of the 42 states where cannabis is still illegal without a prescription, you’re probably planning to march down to your capitol building and lobby your representatives to end cannabis prohibition on April 20. To effectively lobby your representatives requires more than just the commitment to get off the couch one day a year to sit down with your representatives, or more likely, representatives of your representatives, and requesting they support legislation to legalize cannabis in your state.

I was lucky enough to win a scholarship from Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) to lobby my representatives in Washington D.C. in June of 2013 to legalize cannabis federally. It was a most rewarding experience, and I picked up a few things at a lobbying training seminar led by then executive director of SSDP, Aaron Houston. So here’s the cannabis user’s guide to lobbying on 4/20.

1. Don’t be Stoned

You have to understand that your representative isn’t going to appreciate you wasting his or her time or the time of his or her staff with your drug-induced ramblings. Even if you are a capable orator under the influence, just the appearance or odor of being stoned can undo all your good work and that of your sober comrades.

Getting arrested for smoking a joint at your capitol doesn’t look good, either, so if you must smoke, stay at home on 4/20, where you can still submit a comment to the Food and Drug Administration to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs. The FDA is requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of five drug substances: the cannabis plant and resin, extracts and tinctures of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, stereoisomers of tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol. Comments are due by April 23.

2. Dress to Impress

If you wish to be treated as an equal by your representatives or their representatives, dressing as they do is a good place to start. You can’t expect your representatives to thoughtfully consider your recommendations if you’re wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes and look like you just rolled out of bed.

The dress code for members of state congress is business professional, which is exactly what you should be wearing while working in their arena. That’s either a suit or a collared shirt, slacks, a tie and dress shoes for men, and a business suit or an appropriate blouse and skirt or dress for women. “Appropriate,” in this case, refers to an appropriate amount of naked skin displayed, which should never be used as a means to your end. You want your representative to respect you, not covet you.

3. Sell Yourself

You’re not just selling your stance; you’re selling yourself. There’s hardly an instance you’re not selling yourself, but in this case, it’s especially important to approach the lobbying of your representatives as you would a job interview. Your interviewers should want to have you back when you leave.

Your representatives can’t dislike you and like your stance. They have to like you before they will even consider your stance. The old saying “you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is never more true than when lobbying your representatives. Turn up the charm to 11. Smile, and if you can make your representative laugh, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your first goal in lobbying your representatives: being liked.

4. Appeal to the Heart, Not the Head

It might not seem like it at times, but politicians are people, too. They have family and friends they love just like you, and appealing to their feelings will force them to empathize with you. Tell them a personal story of why you use cannabis and how it has helped you. Make yourself the hero of your story and make it easily relatable.

For example: “I suffer from degenerative disc disease that causes chronic lower back pain. Upon being diagnosed at 23 years old, I was immediately prescribed opioids to manage the pain. The plan was to manage the pain until it became surgical, which is when the pain travels down the back of a leg and past the knee. It took a year for my pain to become surgical, and had I not applied for and received a medical marijuana prescription in Montana during that time, I’d either be addicted to opioids or dead.

Once I received my medical marijuana prescription I had no need for the opioids, the dosage of which had increased almost every time I needed a refill. Cannabis is a safer and healthier means of managing chronic pain than opioids, and research has shown that medical marijuana laws may reduce deaths from opioid overdoses.

But people are struggling with ailments and diseases for which medical marijuana prescriptions aren’t allowed, too. I am also an alcoholic, and I’ve been alcohol-free since October 4, 2017. But I couldn’t imagine kicking alcohol without cannabis, and I and thousands of other alcoholics don’t qualify for medical marijuana prescriptions to treat our disease. Instead, we’re called criminals for treating our disease in a safe and healthy manner. So cannabis, a drug that’s never killed a single soul, remains illegal while more than 1,000 Minnesotans die annually from alcohol.”

A cannabis prohibitionist needs a reason to change their mind on cannabis legalization. If they find out their alcoholic family member could quit drinking with the help of cannabis, they’d be more likely to adopt your stance than if you were to feed them a bunch of statistics about fewer fewer deaths in states where medical marijuana is legal.

5. Remember, You’re the Expert, Not Them

Your representatives are overwhelmed with legislation spanning a multitude of topics, so it’s unlikely they have a firm grasp on a specific topic unless it’s one of their campaign talking points. Given the reluctance of just about every politician to openly discuss cannabis, in almost every instance, you will know more about cannabis and the effects of cannabis prohibition than your representatives.

You are not lobbying your representatives because of your good looks. You’re lobbying your representatives because you know something they don’t that will help inform their eventual decisions on the matter. Deliver your message knowing you are an authority on the subject, and the confidence you exude will go a long way in persuading your representatives.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Drew Pearson Live, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Cannabis A to Z

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Canadian government officials announced their plan to legalize marijuana in Canada by July 2018 on Thursday. Canada has taken a play from the American playbook by leaving the details of marijuana legalization up to individual provinces, but recreational use of marijuana will be legal nationwide, so how will it impact America?

  1. More supply of marijuana

The obvious impact would be more supply of marijuana, which will make it’s way south of the Canadian border via the black market since America still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, like heroin and Ecstasy. While just two Canadian-bordering states (Washington and Maine) have legalized marijuana, only Idaho and Wisconsin have yet to legalize medical marijuana. So many of the Canadian-bordering states already have an increased supply of marijuana due to medical marijuana policies, which would mitigate the chance of Canadian grass making its way into America. But the reason marijuana prohibition is ending in Canada is because it doesn’t keep drugs out of the hands of kids and only allows a black market to not only form but thrive. Prohibition doesn’t keep people from using drugs. Prohibition only makes drugs more expensive and results in violence when black marketers fight for a larger piece of the inflated market valuation. Canada’s legalization of marijuana puts them at a unique advantage to capitalize on an emerging market...

  1. Cannabis exports

Canada’s legalization of marijuana nationwide puts it in a great position to capitalize on cannabis exports to nations that legalize marijuana use but don’t have the means to meet demand. Uruguay is the only country to legalize consumption, cultivation, transportation and sale of cannabis, but all of its available market comes from cannabis grown by Uruguayan authorities. That won’t last. As more and more countries move toward legalization, Canada, and not America, will be best positioned to capitalize on the export of edibles, waxes, and even bud. Canada is apparently three or four years ahead of any other country when it comes to the scale of cannabis companies created. It’s a great opportunity to eventually increase the gross domestic product of Canada.

  1. More U.S. states will legalize marijuana

Nothing is going to stop the momentum of the marijuana legalization movement in America, and Canada’s legalization policy will only fuel that fire. Eight states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana entirely, and 28 have medical marijuana policies. Arizona, Michigan, Vermont and Rhode Island are most likely to legalize marijuana in 2018, with Idaho, Wyoming, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas considering medical marijuana policies.

  1. More Americans will emigrate to Canada

Canada is already a favorite settling spot for Americans emigrating due to the 2016 Presidential election. In fact, Canada hasn’t seen an influx of "talent" like this since 1989, according to the Seattle Times. Legal cannabis will draw even more Americans north of the border, most of whom will be leaving American jobs they do well, further weakening American businesses and the U.S. economy. Unemployment rates will decline, though, as new workers move into the private and public sectors.

  1. Canadian hemp will kill the American cotton market

Perhaps the biggest impact of Canada’s marijuana legalization will be on the American cotton market. The U.S. is the number one exporter of cotton in the world, but hemp can be used in lieu of cotton in clothing and a whole lot of other items. Hemp makes for stronger rope, longer lasting textiles and clothing, and you can even build a house out of hempcrete. With America clinging to marijuana’s Schedule I status, it limits where hemp can be grown and makes exporting the product impossible, despite hemp not having the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

If you’ve noticed, Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t have a positive impact on America. All Americans can hope for is that Congress legalizes marijuana before Canada does, or America will suffer these consequences.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Drew Pearson Live, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

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