I get asked all of the time how people can support marijuana reform. Most of the time the question is being asked by someone who admits ahead of time that they don't have money to donate, but that they still want to help. I know first hand what it's like to be an activist with meager resources (cubicle warriors united!), but I don't let that stop me from helping in other ways. Below are eight ways to help support reform that cost little to no money (just internet connection and stamps). If you think of other ways, by all means add them in the comments so that others can do them too:
- Contact your elected officials - Your elected officials have the power to introduce pro-marijuana measures. As such, contacting them is a good idea for obvious reasons. Elected officials value written correspondence, believe it or not, more than other correspondence according to all of my friends that are staffers (I was a public policy major). A staffer once told me that when the Senator he worked for received a hand written letter, they knew it took more time and effort than an e-mail or phone call, and that they had a ratio of how many other constituents must feel the same way. It takes the cost of an envelope and stamp, but a letter goes a long ways. Be thoughtful in your letter, present facts, be respectful, and get to the point.
- Volunteer for a campaign or organization - You not have money, but chances are you have time. Volunteer for a reputable campaign or organization. Just be aware that there are a lot of jerks out there that will use you up, take credit for your efforts when results are achieved, and scapegoat you because you don't come from means when results aren't achieved. Don't let that discourage you from volunteering, but just keep it in mind. I've seen many FANTASTIC activists get chewed up and spit out, which resulted in them walking away from activism entirely, and that's sad. I was almost there many times myself, but I was fortunate enough to have mentors that pointed this out to me early on.
- Have a conversation with someone who is on the fence about reform - A conversation doesn't cost anything, and it's the way that minds are changed the most I think. It's easy for someone to oppose marijuana reform when it's some distant thing that they don't deal with personally. It's much different when they are talking to someone that the admire, love, and/or respect. Putting a face with cannabis reform is a very, very powerful thing. When people hear personal stories about the problems that are created by marijuana prohibition, and specifically how it has impacted your life, it takes a very stubborn person to not get on the right side of history, logic, and compassion.
- Share stuff on social media - I always tell people that social media is largely responsible for saving Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program from the harmful desires of 2012 Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton. I think that many people think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. I saw the entire thing unfold behind the scenes from start to finish, and Dwight Holton (an 'establishment candidate' with deep pockets) was ahead by a healthy amount just two months prior to the primary election that would determine the winner of the open seat (there were no GOP candidates, it's Oregon, we are liberal I heard). NO ONE was talking about the race, and understandably so. It was a primary, in Oregon, for a seat that isn't the Governor. Snooze alert, right? By the time the primary election was over, the Chicago Tribune was reporting about it, US News and World Report was talking about it, CNBC covered it. That didn't happen by accident. There was a very concerted effort to build buzz on social media for the election, and it went viral. It cost zero dollars to do. Supporting reform, one click at a time like I always say.
- Be a good example - I know a lot of people out there that are turned off by marijuana reform because of how they see some people in the marijuana world act. Be kind to others. Don't rip people off. Don't stab people in the back. Don't steal other's credit that they deserve. You know, what every decent human being does!
- Write a marijuana P.O.W. - There is a great website out there that lists all of the marijuana P.O.W. that are serving life sentences in prison for marijuana. It's 420POW.com, and I suggest you write letters to the people on the list. Obviously marijuana reform involves pushing the needle forward, but it also involves not forgetting those that are paying the price for marijuana prohibition. We can't leave them behind. No one deserves to be in jail for a plant that is safer than alcohol.
- Show up to public meetings, hearings, and legal proceedings - This is a sensitive thing in my opinion. If people show up to public meetings, hearings, and court cases, and they are respectful, it's a very helpful thing. But if people show up and act the fool, they are doing far more harm than good. If you can behave, and especially if you can speak articulately, go out and be heard. In court cases, just show up to let the defendant know there's people that care, and show the jurors/judge that there is support for that person. Don't show up with offensive signs and try to turn the courtroom into a circus. Not only do you look like a fool, but you have likely sealed someone else's fate and ensured that they are going to be convicted. Don't be that person.
- Vote! - This should go without being said, but if you aren't registered to vote, do it! Then vote! Not just for marijuana reform efforts, but also for candidates that are favorable to the movement!