Movements are not created overnight and they do not last without a constant flow of new participants and members. Outreach and recruitment is the most vital part of movement building. While one or two committed people can be effective in their advocacy, the struggle for safe and legal access requires diverse community input and includes several stages.

Don't be intimidated; this issue carries over 90% support nation-wide. That means that a large portion of people you will encounter already agree with you. It is your responsibility as an advocate to tell them how they can put their support into action! Remember, you are not begging for support, you are offering individuals an opportunity to participate in a movement that they already believe in!

Outreach and recruitment is often overlooked during intensive campaigns so make sure that you include components in all of your campaigns that will draw in new members and give them a way to participate. Solid outreach strategies will add new strengths and talents to your efforts and will ensure longevity.

Make it fun! While our work is serious and at times heart-breaking, outreach and recruitment is a way for you to meet new people, see new parts of your community, and spend time together. This section offers a few ideas for outreach and recruitment.


The Internet creates endless tools and opportunities for community outreach. Below are a list of Internet based opportunities to communicate with your members, supporters, volunteers, and the media.


1. Email. Emails lists are a good choice for individual activists and for organizations in which the staff has little technical expertise and if your list has only a couple hundred subscribers.

For example, if you want to send out press releases, set up a personalized address book labeled "Media" that includes the email addresses of all the interested reporters you know. To send a press release to your "Media" list, put your own email address in the "To" field, and type "Media" in the "Bcc" field of the message header. That way, all of the reporters will receive the message, but only your email address will be disclosed.

ALWAYS use the "Bcc" (blind carbon copy) field if you are creating an email list in your address book so that the email addresses are hidden to your recipients to uphold patient confidentially.

2. Activist E-mail Account and List Providers. There are organizations that offer free mailing lists to activists like Rise Up (www.riseup.net) and TAO (www.tao.ca). These organizations are far more trustworthy and sympathetic to activists than capitalist Email services but they have limited resources.

Types of email lists

  • Announcement-only email lists: This configuration provides one-way communication from the list owner to the list subscribers. This configuration is good for distributing electronic newsletters, action alerts, etc. When you configure a list for announcements only, you need a password in order to post messages so that you can determine who can post messages to the list. This type of list is best for a general alert list. People will unsubscribe to your list if their inbox fills up with emails.
  • Moderated email lists: A moderated email list allows for controlled two-way communication. Any subscriber can post a message to the list, but the list owner decides whether or not to post it. This gives the list owner nearly as much control over the content as the owner of an announcement-only list. The main disadvantage is that you'll have to read every reply you get from list subscribers in order to decide whether or not to post them.
  • Unmoderated email lists: In an unmoderated list, any subscriber can post a message to the list for everyone to see. This configuration gives subscribers the most freedom to communicate and requires very low maintenance, but it also gives the list owner the least amount of control over the content. This type of list is usually best for small groups like workgroups or committees.
  • Open subscription process (anyone can participate): An open subscription list allows anyone who is interested to subscribe without approval from the list owner.
  • Membership-only lists (subscription approval, password-protected Web sites): When you set up a list to require subscription approval, all subscription requests are forwarded to the list owner who will choose whether or not to approve them.

[Adapted from "The Virtual Activist" http://www.netaction.org/training/v-training.html by Shawn Ewald]


1. FACEBOOK Facebook is a great social networking tool that allows community members to connect with each other and share information.

Creating Groups on Facebook Chapters and affiliates are able to create medical cannabis based groups for local patient advocates and chapters to engage in the online medical cannabis community. Members of the group are able to post events, articles, and information related to the medical cannabis community that other people can share among their friends. Proper outreach can become virtually unlimited.

Creating Events on Facebook Facebook allows people to create events to notify others of meetings, hearings, opportunities for court support, and other forms of activism. In turn, other members of the Facebook group or community can share these events with their friends. Facebook allows for continual engagement with potential activists who might not otherwise be engaged.

2. YouTube/TikTok/ClubHouse The idea that one can "broadcast" themselves across the Internet provides endless opportunities for organizers. Chapters and groups can provide virtual updates or "broadcasts" about what is going on in their area. These area specific broadcasts can then be shared among these online communities for all to see. Many local news stations also employ the use of YouTube or other social networking tools during news broadcasts.


Why Table? Setting up a literature and merchandise table at pertinent events provides outreach opportunities for your group, provides activities for members looking for something to do, and makes money. All of these benefits are essential for building your group and keeping it strong.

Where to set up a table - All of the following events and locations are useful and beneficial to some degree. The following is a list of opportunities, in order of political impact, that provide various benefits to coalition building: A. Big political events, demonstrations, and marches; B. Events of your own; C. Small events; D. Specific locations in your community. It is best to start with no more than one event or tabling effort per month and build up your momentum.

Supplies you will need - In order to successfully table and accommodate your volunteers, you should obtain the following (lightweight, durable materials are the best):

  • Portable Tables (if none are available, a tarp laid out on flat ground will work)
  • Folding Chairs
  • Milk Crates (for transport; can double as chairs)
  • Rubber Bands (wind is always a nuisance)
  • A Cash Box and $20 in Small Bills for change (round your prices off to the dollar; it's much easier). The cash box should also contain pens, pencils, tape, scratch paper, etc. As the day goes on, if you are accumulating a considerable amount of money in the cash box, take out all cash except what you need to make change and put it in a safe place. Keep careful records of financial transactions while tabling, with separate columns for donations, memberships, sales, and sales tax.
  • Clipboards (for pledges of resistance and contact sheets)
  • Literature Racks (not essential, but highly useful, especially if space is limited)
  • Tarps and Rope (in wet climates)
  • A durable hand truck with straps for transport is essential.

Presentation - Be sure that the name of your group appears on a sign or banner prominently displayed and visible from a distance. Make the table display as attractive as possible. A tablecloth and a variety of colorful books, shirts, eyecatching signs, posters, etc. will draw people to your table. Straighten literature periodically. For outdoor events, have with you a plastic sheet of some kind for a quick cover if it rains and a bunch of clean rocks (or rubber bands) you can use to keep pamphlets from blowing away. Take an up-to-date price list of all merchandise. All items should be marked with the price, whenever possible.

Outreach - The most important reason to table is to outreach and ORGANIZE! As people approach the table, stand up and engage them in friendly conversation. Talk about the issues and let them know how they can help organize or participate. Have cards with your next meeting date and location available. Always provide a sign-up sheet that offers further contact.

[Adapted from "Guidelines for Tabling" www.ivu.org/vuna/guide/guidelinest.html and from Steve Ongerth, East Bay IWW by Shawn Ewald]


A great way to do public outreach is through petition gathering. Petitioning is a simple and effective alternative to tabling, especially for individuals or small groups. Here are some quick tips for successful petitioning:

  • Choose high traffic areas to petition such as concerts, political events, college campuses or busy areas in your community.
  • Print out several copies of a petition. You can use a petition found on the ASA website or one of your own.
  • Rubber-band the petitions to pieces of cardboard. These handmade clipboards are often easier to handle than store bought clipboards.
  • Make sure to have several extra pens on hand in case a pen is lost or runs out of ink.
  • Greet people with a catchy line such as, "Help protect medical marijuana patients!"
  • Be friendly and outgoing.
  • Have fun!


Doing outreach to like-minded groups is essential to getting a new group off the ground or to expanding an existing group. When approaching other groups, always think about how you would like to be approached. Do research into their beliefs, goals and campaigns and try to see how your group's work fits into those. Attend one of their meetings and introduce yourself. Ask if they would be willing to co-sponsor an event. For ideas on groups to approach, refer to the allied and potential allied organization list in the Coalition Building section of this handbook.


Think about utilizing local media not just as a tool for public education, but also as a tool for community outreach about your specific group. Write letters to the editor in response to medical cannabis stories and make sure to affiliate yourself with your group. Ask friendly journalists to write about your group before a meeting or event to publicize the event beyond your circle of activists. Send out press releases about your group's activities and post the press releases on Facebook and other social networking sites to get the community excited about what you are doing. For ideas on outreach, use the Media 101 section of this handbook.

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Chapter members and volunteers are the lifeblood of ASA. It is important to remember that people come to ASA with different skills and abilities. It is also important to understand that each member may have different needs. For example, new members can often feel overwhelmed and lost at meetings, while veteran members may feel bored or disconnected. Here are some tips on how to develop and retain effective volunteers:


  • Always begin meetings with introductions. Allow members to introduce themselves if they feel comfortable, and review important information such as scenarios, campaigns, and materials.
  • Create an open environment geared toward education. Creating discussions that encourage questions and offer explanations is essential to the education of both new and experienced members.
  • Give new members responsibility. Providing people with responsibilities is a great way to keep people engaged, and holding people accountable for responsibilities they accept can help them feel accomplished. Asking members to prepare a news summary for a meeting, create flyers, or do phone banking are all great ways to help members feel important and included in the community.
  • Call new members to invite them to the next meeting. New members may need reminders and encouragement to get involved in our community, and some support and reassurance are wonderful ways to make people feel more comfortable and willing to participate in new situations like community meetings or other community based situations.


  • Focus meetings on action. While meetings can be educational and fun, always plan to execute some type of action. It is important for people to feel like they are a part of a movement, and there is no better way to do this than by participating in action in the community. Performing actions will help members feel like they are involved in a campaign and not just hanging out with like-minded individuals.
  • Ask for input from all members. A few vocal individuals can easily dominate a meeting, so it is important to make sure that all members feel like their input is welcome and needed. Facilitators should be aware of the discourse to ensure that nobody dominates and that all voices are heard.
  • Recognize members for their efforts, publicly and privately. While leaders may know how talented and committed community members are, people need affirmation to feel their importance also. Make sure to give credit when someone has completed a task successfully, excelled on a project or committed their time and energy towards ASA's goals.
  • Encourage members to socialize. Many people come to activist organizations for the politics, but they stay because of its fun environment. Hosting social events after meetings or on the weekends are great ways to keep the community involved and engaged. Going to movies or sporting events are great ways to not only keep the community active, but also perform community outreach. Be creative and have fun!


  • Find out about members' skills, interests, and connections. Some of the best way to determine skills, interest and connections is to talk to the members of the community about their interests and activities. You may be surprised by what hidden tools your community can provide. For example, someone might have media experience while another member may like to talk on the phone. Maybe a member has a connection to a local politician. Finding out and utilizing the skills your community provides are key to creating a great movement in your area.
  • Define positions and responsibilities. Create ways to foster accountability. Some examples of positions may include coordinators for media, fundraising, event planning, and recruitment. It is important to understand that while most people are excited to dedicate some of their time to participating in community outreach and organizing, they are volunteers who might realistically have limited time to dedicate to the movement. Understanding and respecting people's lives and limitations is key to effective community organizing.

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A coalition is a group of organizations and individuals working together for a common purpose. There are two types of coalitions:

1) "One issue" or event coalitions where all of the participants have agreed on one particular issue. The coalition is dissolved when the particular issue at hand has been solved or the event has been coordinated.

2) "Multi issue" coalitions have related issues. This more permanent type of coalition recognizes the value of mobilizing together for action over a longer time frame. To be effective, the "multi issue" coalition should have a date or multiple dates set for work to be completed. The coalition can always be reorganized and reconfigured if there is still a need for movement.


Coalition building is needed when one organization recognizes it alone does not have the technical capability or people power to have a real impact on an issue.

Coalitions assist in:

  • Setting priorities for action
  • Helping to identify specific data and the informational needs from other groups and agencies
  • Sharing resources and expertise
  • Broadening the development of new audiences
  • Improving the chances that the issue (or issues) will get coverage in the media


The self-interests of your own organization should be analyzed before asking other groups to join a coalition. Ask yourselves these questions:

  • What can be gained from joining with others?
  • Will the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
  • How can we best communicate the demands of other groups to our members?


Continual assessment of your position as it relates to the position of others in your coalition is essential to creating an effective movement. Successful coalition building is contingent upon the following rules of commitment. These rules should help keep all groups on the same track.

  • Each organization must be committed to the problem.
  • Each organization must be committed to coordinate to solve the problem, not just gain public recognition.
  • Each organization must be committed to the belief that every other organization has the right to be involved.
  • Each organization must be committed to open communication.
  • Each organization must be committed to coalition recognition, not individual recognition.


In order to build a non-discriminatory world, we suggest the following principles and practices in our lives and in our work.


Power and privilege play out in our group dynamics and we must continually challenge when and how power and privilege play out in our practice.

We can only identify how power and privilege play out when we are conscious and committed to understanding how white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and all other systems of oppression affect each one of us.

Developing an anti-oppression practice is lifelong work and requires a lifelong commitment. No single workshop is sufficient for learning to change one's behaviors.

Dialogue and discussion are necessary and we need to learn how to listen non-defensively and communicate respectfully if we are going to have effective anti-oppression practice.

Personal Practices

  • Challenge yourself to be honest and open and take risks to address racism, sexism, and homophobia head on.
  • When you witness or experience an abuse of power or oppression, interrupt the behavior and address it on the spot or later, either one on one or with a few allies; this is about ways to address oppressive behavior that will encourage change.
  • When challenging people's behavior, try to be sensitive to promote open dialogue.
  • Don't generalize feelings, thoughts, behaviors, etc. to a whole group.
  • Don't make people "prove" their experience of oppression by challenging, calling them divisive or diminishing what they say. Give people the benefit of the doubt and don't make assumptions.
  • Challenge "macho bravado" and "rugged individualism" in yourself, your friends, and in activism.
  • Take on the "grunt" work of cooking, cleaning, set up, clean up, phone calls, email, taking notes, doing support work, sending mailings. Take active responsibility for initiating, volunteering for and following through on this work.
  • Understand that you will feel discomfort and pain as you face your part in oppression and realize that this is a necessary part of the process of liberation and growth. We must support each other and be gentle with each other in this process.
  • Don't feel guilty, feel motivated. Being part of the problem doesn't mean you can't be an active part of the solution.
  • Maintain these practices and contribute equal time and energy to building healthy relationships, both personal and political.

Organizational Practices

  • Commit time for organizational discussions on discrimination and oppression
  • Set anti-oppression goals and continually evaluate whether or not you are meeting them
  • Promote an anti-racist and anti-sexist message and analysis in everything we do, in and outside of activist space • Remember, these are complex issues and they need adequate time and space
  • Create opportunities for people to develop skills to communicate about oppression
  • Respect different styles of leadership and communication
  • Don't push people of color to do things because of their race (tokenism); base it on their work, experience, and skills
  • Make a collective commitment to hold people accountable for their behavior so that the organization can be a safe and nurturing place for all

Meeting Practices

  • It is the role of the facilitator to make the space safe and welcoming for everyone
  • Become a good listener
  • Don't interrupt people who are speaking
  • Be conscious of how your use of language may perpetuate racism, sexism, homophobia or ageism
  • Try not to call people out because they are not speaking
  • Be conscious of how much space you take up or how much you speak in a group
  • Be careful of not hogging the show, speaking on every subject, speaking in capital letters, restating what others say or speaking for others
  • Respect different views and opinions
  • Balance race, gender and age participation
  • People who haven't yet spoken get priority
  • Racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic remarks must not be tolerated

[Adapted from the "Anti-Racism Principles and Practices" by RiseUp DAN-LA, Overcoming Masculine Oppression by Bill Moyers and the FEMMAFESTO by the women of Philadelphia. 9/9/01 by Lisa Fithian]


Coalitions must plan to carry out certain tasks, regardless of the type, in order for them to function efficiently. These tasks include:

  • Naming a facilitator or coordinator
  • Obtaining commitment from members
  • Assessing needs and gathering background data
  • Writing a mission statement
  • Determining short or long-term objectives
  • Evaluating the work as the coalition progresses
  • Exploring opportunities for additional funding
  • Carrying out the plan
  • Determining ways to orient new members

[Excerpted from "A Process for Building Coalitions" by Dr. Georgia L. Stevens)




AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people aged 50 and over. AARP is dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age. They lead positive social change and deliver value to members through information, advocacy, and service.

American Academy of HIV Medicine


The American Academy of HIV Medicine is an independent organization of AAHIVM HIV SpecialistsTM and others dedicated to promoting excellence in HIV/AIDS care. Through advocacy and education, the Academy is committed to supporting health care providers in HIV medicine and to ensuring better care for those living with AIDS and HIV .

American Civil Liberties Union


The ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Their job is to conserve America's original civic values: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

American Public Health Association


The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA brings together researchers, health service providers, administrators, teachers, and other health workers in a unique, multidisciplinary environment of professional exchange, study, and action.

Drug Policy Alliance


The Alliance is a high profile organization working to end the war on drugs. The organization envisions new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights and a just society in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative


The Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative was established in November 2003 to mobilize people of faith and religious groups behind more compassionate and less coercive alternatives to the war on drugs.

International Association for Cannabis as Medicine


The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) is a scientific society advocating the improvement of the legal situation for the use of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa L.) and its pharmacologically most important active compounds, the cannabinoids, for therapeutic applications through promotion of research and dissemination of information. The IACM declares that it is the right of doctors to be able to discuss the medicinal use of cannabis with their patients.

International Cannabis Research Society


The ICRS is dedicated to research in all fields of the cannabinoids, ranging from biochemical, chemical, and physiological studies of the endogenous cannabinoid system to studies of the abuse potential of recreational cannabis. In addition to acting as a source for impartial information on cannabis and the cannabinoids, the main role of the ICRS is to provide a forum for researchers to meet and discuss their results.

Lymphoma Foundation of America


Lymphoma Foundation of America is the national organization devoted solely to helping lymphoma patients and their families. They are dedicated to helping you find the best care available for your type of lymphoma. They offer support, experience, advice, and a helping hand. All programs and services are free.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies


The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a membershipbased non-profit research and educational organization. They assist scientists to design, obtain approval for, fund, conduct, and report on research into the healing and spiritual potentials of psychedelics and cannabis.

National Association of People with AIDS


The National Association of People with AIDS is a non-profit membership organization that advocates on behalf of all people living with HIV and AIDS in order to end the pandemic and the human suffering caused by HIV/AIDS.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society


The mission of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is to end the devastating effects of MS. The Society and its network of chapters nationwide promote research, educate, advocate on critical issues, and organize a wide range of programs- including support for the newly diagnosed and those living with MS over time.

The November Coalition


The November Coalition is a non-profit organization of grassroots volunteers educating the public about the destructive increase in prison population in the United States due to our current drug laws. They alert their fellow citizens, particularly those who are complacent or naive, about the present and impending dangers of an overly powerful federal authority acting far beyond its constitutional constraints.

Patients Out of Time


The mission of Patients out of Time is the education of health care professionals and the public about the therapeutic use of cannabis. Their leadership is composed of medical and nursing professionals with expertise in the clinical applications of cannabis and five of the seven patients (two wish to remain anonymous) who receive their medical cannabis from the US government.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy


Students for Sensible Drug Policy is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.

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