How To Advocate for Medical Marijuana Legalization In Your State

How To Advocate for Medical Marijuana Legalization In Your State

How To Advocate for Medical Marijuana Legalization In Your State

How To Advocate for Medical Marijuana Legalization In Your State

I wish all people in our country had safe and affordable access to be able to consider the use of medical marijuana in their states. Although we are getting closer, many of you still live in illegal states and may have the desire to know what you can do to help expedite the process of legalization. I thought it might be helpful to share our experience with you to help you work to turn your state into a more compassionate state.  My husband and I are the co-directors for Medical Marijuana Advocacy for the US Pain Foundation. We are very proud of the foundation  for supporting the choice of this medication and taking a positive stand.

So here are our suggestions:

#1 – Google your state and medical marijuana laws and become familiar with where your state stands presently

#2 – If a Medical Marijuana Bill has been submitted, find the name or names of those that have submitted it.

#3 – Contact the state legislatures that submitted the Medical Marijuana Bill and do one or all of the following:

  1. request a meeting

  2. leave a phone message

  3. write a letter

  4. offer to testify

     The goal is to begin to establish a relationship with this person, to let them know your story and your willingness to help in any way you are able.

#4 – Remember, you are in an illegal state sharing your success with medical marijuana, so you want to share the success you had while living or visiting a legal state. You do not want to take any chance getting arrested!

#5 – You will find that telling your story is the key – so try to find others who will also be able to share their medical conditions and how using medical marijuana helped them, too.  Share the medical condition, how it affects your daily life and how using medical marijuana, in the past, has made a big difference.

#6 – If you are able to attend a meeting, be sure to dress like you are going to work, keep the language clean and show them that you are one more everyday person trying to live life with major medical difficulties. You do not want to be perceived as a recreational drug user so dress and act with  a serious demeanor. You are the real person trying to cope and needing their help to pass this legislation.

#7 – Along with sharing your story as to why this would help improve the quality of your life, you also need to discuss what the qualifying conditions are on the Medical Marijuana Bill proposal. There is no way they will ever include listing every possible condition that causes pain. Therefore, it is very important to include the following in your bill:

    • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:

      • Cachexia or wasting syndrome

  • Severe, debilitating, chronic pain

    • Severe nausea

    • Seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy

    • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease

    • Agitation related to Alzheimer’s Disease

If you don’t get the wording in there for chronic pain, many will not ever qualify.

#8 – If they want you to come testify, again, your demeanor  matters – show them you are “their family, their neighbor, their friend” in need of safe pain relief. Be on your best behavior and educate them! Prepare your speech before your arrive

  • find out the time limit

  • consider putting your main points on a card to talk from, instead of just reading it all for eye contact can really help!

  • stay on point – time is limited and you must respect this or they will shut you off to allow others their time slot

  • state your name and address

  • share your medical condition and a description of this condition has on your daily living.

  • then share how medical marijuana has made life more tolerable  than in the past

  • Ask them to have a heart and help you and all the others in your state.

  • I always end with – “You never know what life might bring each of you next, I didn’t ask to have to cope with this condition. Please show your compassion.”

#9 – If you have no Medical Marijuana Bill submitted at the present time, then your work will be a bit different. You need to look back and see if a Medical Marijuana Bill had been submitted that never made it through and locate the name of that person. Again, you would want to contact that person or persons and tell them you are ready to advocate and ask what they need from you.

#10 – Whether you have a Medical Marijuana Bill submitted or are working to get one started, you want to keep the topic alive in the media, so write letters to the editor, send a written story to news stations and radio stations, telling them you would like to share your story and why you want to see medical marijuana legalized in your state. You will be surprised how they can respond!

BONUS – Another thing you can do is also contact us via the US Pain Foundation to see if we have any ambassadors in your state that have expressed interest in advocating. We are happy to connect you if we have them listed. ellen@uspainfoundation.org or stu@uspainfoundation.org Good luck and may this soon be legal for all in our country.

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Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. In addition to their work for the U.S. Pain Foundation, as Co-Directors for Medical Marijuana Advocacy, they also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. Ellen wrote a book about her journey as a Pain Warrior, It Hurts Like Hell!” For more information about medical marijuana and how to convert it to other forms of administering besides smoking, visit their website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of this website. Medical marijuana is legal in some U.S. states but is still technically illegal under federal law. Even in states where it is legal, doctors may frown upon marijuana and drop patients from their practice for using it.

 

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