With August Recess starting, Congress members are leaving DC and returning home for a month of work. This is the perfect opportunity to meet with them and tell your story about how important medical cannabis is to you. Last week we posted a blog on how to schedule an August recess meeting, so take a look if you missed it.
Talking to a member of Congress or their staff should not be a scary thing - YOU are the expert in this conversation! Sometimes during August recess Congress members will be able to meet with you directly. If you are scheduled to meet with a staffer instead of the member, that is ok and normal! Staffers are the wheels that make Congress turn and they are responsible for educating the member on various issues. Talking to a staffer is just as important as talking to the member so please do not be discouraged if you are not meeting directly with your representative.
Helpful tips for talking with your representative.
Take a couple minutes to plan out what you would like to talk about. Meetings are usually only about 20 minutes long so it is helpful to have your ideas organized beforehand.
Start out with an Intro
Always start the meeting with your name, let them know you are a constituent, and tell them that you are a medical cannabis patient urging them to support cannabis policy.
Share Your Story
The most powerful tool in advocacy is a first-person account of your lived experience. Let the office know how cannabis has benefited you. It is also important to let them know of any challenges you have faced. Have you been unable to travel? Lost your job or income? These details are all important to convey.
Keep Federal Policy at the Forefront of the Conversation
Keep in mind, you are meeting with federal legislators and their staff, and unfortunately, these members do not have power to change or influence individual aspects of your state’s medical cannabis program. While it is important to let them know of the benefits/downfalls of state programs, in order to highlight the need for federal oversight, your ask of them should be centered around the notion to fix medical cannabis policy on the federal level.
Stay tuned next week for part 3 of our August recess series! We will break down some facts and figures and provide other talking points that you will be able to use. But remember: your personal story and experiences are the most important advocacy tool we have.