Most people thought the fight was over when Colorado voters legalized commercial cannabis in 2012, but that victory led to a series of smaller battles over such issues as social consumption, home-grow limitations and industry expansion. Proposals continue to pop up on both the local and state level that could advance or limit your rights as a cannabis consumer, patient, grower or business owner. Want to make sure things go in the right direction? Here's how to become a cannabis advocate:
Attend Local Government Meetings
Most of the decisions that affect your daily life are made at a local level by neighborhood organizations, city councils, county boards, mayoral administrations and so on — so don't let these groups off the hook. Amendment 64 allows municipalities and counties to choose whether to ban or allow cannabis businesses, and the majority of Colorado communities still prohibit them. A number of towns and counties have also discussed stricter limits for home-growing, even for medical patients, while a few have tried to address issues such as social consumption and cultivation health standards.
Have an opinion? Share it at a public meeting. Sternly worded emails might get some attention from elected officials, but if you really want them to know who you are, force them to stay at a boring meeting past 10 p.m. to hear your testimony.
Keep an Eye on Your Legislators
Just as you should watch local officials, it's important to keep an eye on what your state lawmakers are up to. Colorado's legislators have become more educated on the science behind cannabis in recent years, and a lot of that is thanks to advocacy efforts. If you're like most people and can't attend legislative sessions and hearings to voice your opinion, you can always study the Colorado House and Senate meeting recordings that are posted online, then reach out to your state rep or senator.
The Colorado Legislature ended its session on May 9, but not before considering some pretty crazy pot bills. Measures that would have proposed a tracking agent for commercial marijuana plants or a tracking system for legal pot buyers were defeated after extensive public input in 2018, while bills that added autism and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions approved for medical marijuana passed in 2017 and 2018, respectively, both buoyed by heavy public support.
See What Groups Are Right for You
There's no shortage of groups advocating for cannabis, but it can be hard to pick one specific cause that deserves your time. While you can always join broader national groups focusing on cannabis rights as a whole, such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy or Marijuana Policy Project, there are also groups that fight for more focused causes. Organizations that represent medical marijuana patients, minorities in cannabis, health-care professionals, women, veterinarians, autistic children, veterans, recreational consumers and many other demographics are out there and eager for new members. All you have to do is ask.