MTCIA’s Lobbying Efforts Underway

January 17, 2013

The association’s efforts to make positive change in our state laws are now underway at the Capitol. Board member and physician Pat Pardis has kindly taken on the responsibility of lobbying on our behalf. Pat has a great deal of experience working in government and he is a real asset to our effort. He plans on being at the Capitol 3 or 4 days each week to meet with legislators as needed.

There are dozens of bills we are currently watching, some we will propose, and we plan to be a regular and familiar face at the Capital this year. Many of the bills we are tracking do not deal directly with cannabis issues, but go to things like forfeiture law, probationers, employment law or other issues our supporters may have an interest in, and which may affect our community either directly or indirectly. As the session continues, we will have a better idea of how these laws may affect us and whether or not they are worth drawing broader attention to.

There are also bills we are very interested in supporting, some of which have begun the process, while others are still in the planning stages for strategic purposes. I will discuss a few specific bills in posts to follow shortly.

We will likely support a broader medical marijuana bill this year and we have spoken with both Senators and Representatives about sponsoring such a bill. We are not kidding ourselves, however. The legislative leadership, which has a great deal of control over both houses, has little interest in seeing any such bill succeed, and many times we will be fighting simply to get a bill out of committee. Our strategy is long term, and what we cannot accomplish today, we will accomplish tomorrow. Persistence is the key and we are building long-term relationships that will last well beyond this session.

We feel that it is too early in the session to attempt a sweeping change to our law, but believe that as the session continues, we will get to know who our allies and opponents are and can craft an approach with the broadest appeal. The most important thing we can do is be pragmatic and useful to the process, and much of what we have focused on so far is to establishing credibility as a rational and level-headed group that is professional and sincere in seeking positive change. Name calling, personal attacks, and purely emotional appeal may make activists feel good or portray a certain image to a core group of supporters, but in fact they can easily have the opposite effect and will make our mission nearly impossible. We will not engage in such tactics.

As always, thank you for your support!