Write Your Campaign Plan What to include in your medical cannabis ordinance plan

Now that you figured out the rules for medical cannabis in your community (if any) and decided on a pathway, it is time to make a campaign plan. Your plan can be detailed or simple. This will depend on your skills, available resources, and the size of your team. Purposes of the plan include: (1) clearly define your goal, (2) establish the steps you will take to get there, (3) identify the strategies and messages you will need to win, and (4) determine how much money and other resources you need. This information will be valuable to you and your team as the campaign unfolds. It will also be useful for potential donors, who want to know you have a solid plan before giving money.

Be sure to talk about your campaign plan with team members and other with experience in politics, if possible. You want to get as much information as possible to be sure you have the most effective plan. Do not be afraid to hear constructive criticism, differing viewpoints, etc. These can all help make you plan better. Be sure to check out the materials related to Strategic Planning, messaging, and being a spokesperson in the Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center before completing your plan.

There is no set format for your campaign plan. In general, you should describe how you will address these key areas: 

  1. Define the goals and boundaries. Be very clear on exactly what you hope to accomplish. You should also decide up front if there are campaign “boundaries.” Campaign boundaries are basic goals you will not give up or provisions you will not accept. For example, a boundary could be that whatever ordinance is adopted must protect the right of individual patients to grow there own medicine. If you are setting boundaries with a team, ASA suggests discussing values and large-scale goals before setting boundaries.
  2. Decide what concrete steps you must take and when. Adopting ordinances, voter initiatives, and referenda all involve specific legal steps and deadlines. Your city and county can provide you with this information. Get the deadlines on a calendar to make sure you file forms, send letters, submit petitions, etc. on time. Make a list of tasks that need to be accomplished, who is going to do each task, and by when. Some tasks include:
    1. Filing official paper work
    2. Writing letters to elected officials
    3. Writing op-eds for the news paper
    4. Retuning calls and opening mail
    5. Attending meetings
    6. Setting up a webpage
    7. And much more…
  3. Decide to whom you need to speak and make a plan to do it. If you are passing an ordinance, you need to get materials to elected officials and follow up with a meeting. If you working on a voter initiative, you need to be finding ways to talk with likely voters. Almost every campaign needs to talk to local media about what you are trying to do and why.
  4. Decide on winning “messaging” and stick to it. Messaging refers to the facts, sound bites, anecdotes, etc. that you will use to talk to elected officials, voters, the media, opponents, or others. Remember that your messaging should reinforce why the new ordinance should be adopted. Do not include opponents’ arguments in your messaging (but be prepared to respond to likely objections if they come up). A campaigns messaging is sometimes provided to supporters in the form of printed talking points or fact sheets. Keep these short and simple.
  5. Make a budget and a fundraising plan. Politics is not free, even at the grassroots level. A simple campaign will need a webpage, flyers, printing, telephones, and more. A more complicated campaign might need an office, staff, and professional help. Budgeting can be tedious, but it is important to know what you need. Do not forget to include goods or services donated to your campaign (“in-kind” donations) in the budget. This includes volunteer time. You will need to decide (and possibly show donors) where you plan to get the money and other resources you will need. Look at the Fundraising section of this website for more on that topic.
  6. Think about getting professional help. There are thousands of lobbyists, consultants, lawyers, and campaign managers in California who can help plan and execute your campaign. A few work for free, but most get paid. This can be a good option for campaigns launched by inexperienced organizers, assuming funds are available. If you decide to hire a professional to run your campaign, be sure it is clear whose vision is shaping the effort and who has final say. ASA recommends that campaign organizers take care in selecting a professional who is appropriate for the campaign. The right professional will probably have a proven track record in or near your community, verifiable references, and a clear and written scope of services (so you know exactly what you are paying for).

There may be other topics you need to include in your campaign plan. Take the time to sit down and develop this plan. Talk it over with others. Be flexible. A good plan will make you job easier and success more likely.