The Greener Institute Founder, Barry Greenberg, recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Meredith Buettner, Executive Director of the PA Cannabis Coalition (PCC). While they covered a wide variety of topics, one point Meredith consistently circled back to was the importance of reaching out to State Representatives in your district to help enact the changes you want to see.
Do you want to see prices improve in the PA MMJ Program? Contact your local rep.
Do you want to be able to home grow? Contact your local rep.
Are you passionate about legalizing the combustion of cannabis? Contact your local rep.
Meredith and the PA Cannabis Coalition, which was created to “protect and preserve Pennsylvania’s emerging marijuana market” by helping to “devise policy that regulates the sensible cultivation, distribution, and use of cannabis.” The PCC works alongside players in the cannabis market, but their goal is to create a healthy, sustainable, and thriving program for patients and practitioners, as well. Passionate about education and advocacy, they have been hard at work for years trying to improve the program.
But, as Meredith notes in her chat with Barry, there is only so much they can do. They need our help—and yours, too.
Advocacy is the Key
We understand that residents are wary to trust or believe that their state representatives are actually reflecting their constituents desires. Our current political landscape reinforces such beliefs. Many people flock to social media to air their grievances, either to their friend groups or directly at their representatives, but this is only part of the puzzle.
Real change in our country happens when people begin participating in civics at the local level. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that your local representative is reading your subtweets about them. Even more unlikely is that these representatives, or their teams, are participating in spaces that feature open dialogues about topics like marijuana legalization or medical marijuana, such as our Group, Medical Marijuana PA.
While disheartening, it suggests that one must pursue a variety of outlets in order to be heard. Meredith and the PCC highly recommend, as do we, reaching out to your legislators directly, through “traditional” channels, including writing them emails or mailing them letters. These are more likely to be seen by legislators and their teams. Furthermore, we urge you all to make this a joint effort. One to two letters are better than none, but if patients and practitioners stand up and advocate together, legislators will be less likely to ignore us.
No one is going to advocate for the medical marijuana community like those who are directly involved in it, understand its merits, and are passionate about the difference it makes in people’s lives.
How We Can Make a Change
The first, and most important, step is figuring out who exactly your local representative is. Fortunately, there are easy tools available to help you find this information. The link below offers three separate ways to determine who your rep is. Either through entering your address, the county you live in, or selecting your county on their interactive map, the website will give you the names of the state legislators in your district and provide links to their respective state profiles. On their profiles, you’ll see all of the contact information associated with them, including their email addresses, office addresses, and their phone numbers.
With enough calls, emails, and letters to our reps, they will begin to see there is support for changes and additions to the PA MMJ Program, as well as a push for statewide marijuana legalization. A single voice can be drowned out, but a whole crowd of voices is hard to ignore.
We know you want affordable medical marijuana. We know you want protections from DUI and workplace discrimination as a patient. We know you want better quality assurance with cannabis products. We know you want to home grow. We know you want to be able to legally smoke marijuana.
We know. Now let’s join together as the educated, empowered community we are and make sure our state representatives know, too.
To help you get started, we’ve included a templated email template below. Simply fill in your representative’s name, the issues you’re passionate about, and your name. Once completed, send it to your local representative! If you have more questions or would like further assistance, please contact us at 833-888-5323.
Local Representative Outreach Template
Dear Legislator (Insert your Representative or Senator’s name),
As a cardholder in the Pennsylvania State Medical Marijuana Program, I strongly encourage you to consider (Insert your cause / topic here).
It has been made abundantly clear that many aspects of life and current state law were not considered when instituting our state’s MMJ program. These aspects diminish the benefits of the program, stoking fear of repercussions at both the personal and professional level, whether that be in the form of DUI laws that do not distinguish between recreational and medicinal use, or a lack of workplace protections for cardholders.
The changes outlined above hold the potential to positively impact the lives of many PA residents and cardholders who believe in the medicinal benefits of marijuana, creating a safer and more accessible program for those who need it.
(Insert your name here)
Resident of (Insert district name here)