Want to legalize cannabis in your state? As of March 2020, medical cannabis is legal in 33 states in the US, while another 11 states have legalized full recreational use. The tide has turned, and these numbers are expected to rise. As legal cannabis becomes widespread, more states will join in.
But you don’t have to wait for politicians to take action. In fact, most cannabis legalization has been the result of grassroots efforts by activists, health advocates, and people just like you. If you want to change the cannabis laws where you live, there are several ways you can help.
Here are some action items you can do to help legalize cannabis in your state:
1. Learn The Current State Law
First, educate yourself about the existing local laws where you live. Do you live in a state where cannabis is legal for medical use, but not recreational? If so, what are the regulations surrounding medical use? Have these regulations changed or loosened over time?
Learning about the current cannabis laws in your state will provide valuable background information. As with any cause, you’ll be able to make a stronger case for legalizing cannabis when you’re armed with solid facts. Understanding existing regulations gives you a “jumping off point,” too. You can use the current laws as a template to build on.
2. Study States That Successfully Legalized Cannabis
After you’ve learned about the existing laws in your state, study the states that have successfully legalized recreational cannabis. As of 2020, recreational cannabis is legal in the following states:
Read about the history of cannabis legalization efforts in these states. When were the laws passed, and when did they go into effect? Did these states legalize medical cannabis first, and if so, how many years did it take for recreational use to be legalized? Were there any earlier, unsuccessful efforts before cannabis was finally legalized?
Study these states for their successes and their failures. Then, focus on following their example and improving upon it. You’ll also be able to make a stronger case for legalizing cannabis in your own state when you can use positive data and statistics from the states with legal recreational use.
3. Connect with the Cannabis Advocacy Community
Next, find like-minded people who share your passion for legalizing cannabis. Join an advocacy group like the Marijuana Policy Project and begin attending local meetings, town halls, rallies, and other events. If there are no local activist groups that support legalizing cannabis, start one! Use social media, Meetup.com, or Nextdoor to invite people to join you.
Once you’ve found or created a community of people who want to legalize cannabis in your state, you’ll have a valuable support network. Your group can write letters, canvass, gather petition signatures, phonebank, and hold events to advocate for changes to the law. Plus, you’ll make new friends who can help you stay motivated.
4. Write, Call, and Lobby Your Lawmakers
The path to legalization can be complicated, and every state is slightly different. However, in most cases, recreational cannabis was legalized by voters. This means a legalization measure was placed on the ballot for a state election, and the measure successfully passed. Still, as with any type of legislation, you can make a positive impact by contacting your local representatives.
While you can certainly contact your Congressional representative and your Senators, it may be more effective to lobby your state’s legislature rather than federal. If you’re connected to a local advocacy group, they can help you determine the best lawmakers to focus on. Then, begin writing letters, making phone calls, and contacting these lawmakers over social media. If you can gain the support of your local lawmakers, they’ll be able to help impact policy in favor of legalization.
5. Spread the Word
As you pursue these other methods of legalizing cannabis in your state, spread the word! Often, one of the best ways to gain support for a cause is to make it personalized. Tell people in your life why you believe cannabis should be legalized. Share your activism on social media, or even consider starting your own blog or podcast.
You can also encourage people to join you by sharing news and updates about the legalization efforts. Invite your friends and family members to join you for town halls, rallies, or other events. Even if they don’t personally use cannabis, your friends and family will be more inclined to support legalization when they have a better understanding of the facts surrounding the issue.
6. Stay Informed & Vote
Finally, stay informed. Connect with state advocacy groups on social media, sign up for email newsletters, and read news publications focused on cannabis. By staying up to date on the latest news and info, you’ll be able to take informed action and help legalize cannabis in your state.
Finally, one of the most important ways you can take action is to vote at the local and state level. Here is more info on which states will have legalization measures on the November 2020 ballot.