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It’s staggering how much progress has been made in cannabis legalization this year alone. January began with the launch of adult-use in California and within six short months, Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical cannabis, Canada approved recreational consumption, and for first time the FDA approved a drug derived from weed.

And yet with all of this progress, cannabis is still a Federal Schedule 1 substance which means a lot people still can’t get access to this helpful medicine. Not only that, people of color are still being targeted for arrests even in states where it’s legal, and the growing industry is suffering from a major lack of diversity. Despite plenty of positive change, we can’t lose sight of the fact that cannabis legalization is as much about social justice as it is about individual freedom. Without the tireless efforts of activists and advocates, cannabis would still be illegal, and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

For those of us who can buy and consume cannabis legally, are investing in or starting cannabis businesses, or simply support legalization, creating space for advocacy can go a long way and could not be easier.

Check out these 4 tips for how you can get involved:

1. COME OUT ABOUT YOUR CANNABIS USE

This is a hard step for a lot of folks and I totally get it. Entire generations of people have been raised under the rhetoric of prohibition and the War of Drugs, which can make coming out of the green closet extremely daunting. But explaining to loved ones how cannabis helps you could reduce the impact of the misinformation they’ve heard much of their lives, maybe even change their minds completely. By demonstrating that you are productive, able to maintain relationships, even raise children with cannabis fully integrated into your life, you’re living proof that enduring stigmas are outdated and just plain wrong. Even if you don’t consume, chiming in when someone you know says something misguided or inaccurate about cannabis or the people who take it is an easy, accessible way to educate the people in your life. Now’s not the time to be shy, and if you need some ideas for how to break the news we got you covered.

2. SUPPORT 420-FRIENDLY CANDIDATES

Until the Federal government decides to take cannabis off the list of illegal Schedule 1 substances, it’s up to the states to decide what’s legal. With the midterms quickly approaching, now is a good time to research and educate yourself about who is running for office in your city and state. Where do the candidates stand on cannabis legalization? If an incumbent’s record reflects support for an ongoing drug war or an alignment with groups pushing for prohibition, consider voting for an opponent with a more progressive stance on the issue. Even if you live in a legal state, it’s important to vote for leaders doing their part to usher in a diverse and equitable cannabis industry and increase access to medicine for patients. So while it’s important to vote, be sure to vote wisely.

3. GET ACTIVE AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL

The fight for legalization starts on the ground at the community level, and there are always opportunities to advocate for reform, even when you live in a legal market. The passage of cannabis legislation is just the first step – rules and regulations still have to be defined and refined over time before we can all bask in the glory of a job well done. Participating in activities like community hearings and public comment periods give you the chance to add your voice to everything from what the regulations should be, to why a city should not ban local cannabis businesses, to how the city or state can establish equity programs. The National Organization for Marijuana Reform (NORML) organizes Lobby Days all over the country, giving regular citizens like you and me the opportunity to travel to our respective state capitals and speak to our representatives about why cannabis prohibition needs to end. If you want to be the change that you wish to see in the world, being vocal and active is a great place to start.

4. SHARE YOUR WEED

The act of one person breaking the law and giving weed to someone suffering and in need was the first step in what became the medical cannabis movement. California’s adult-use regulations, which require cannabis businesses to pay taxes on all products including freebies, effectively jeopardized the compassionate care programs that gave medical cannabis to patients for free. While lawmakers work to change that, not all legal states even have compassionate care programs, so until they do it’s up to the rest of us to help patients in our communities. Think about the people you know – how many of them are dealing with migraines, arthritis, or other chronic pain? Any of them feeling super stressed, anxious or depressed? Is anyone in your life undergoing chemotherapy or dealing with PTSD? Tell them what you know about cannabis and if they’re down, maybe spot them a couple joints or smoke with them, scoop some of your favorite topical into a jar and give it to them to try, bake them some infused brownies or give them cannabis oil or butter so they can make their own. Laws vary by state as far as what’s legal to gift, but if you bought it or grew it, it’s yours to give away. For people who can’t afford to pay for their medical cannabis, a small gesture like this means everything.

What are you doing to advocate for cannabis legalization in your community? Leave comments on our Instagram!

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Kaisha is a content writer specializing in the cannabis industry. Judging by her social media, she’s super into cats and Jeff Goldblum.

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