For the last two weeks, vigorous debate on a law that would greatly restrict abortion and women’s health has unfolded in my home state of Texas. Watching the debate and legislation unfold has me thinking about the power of the voice of one person. Regardless of the issue, your voice counts. Even when the outcome does not go your way.
At this time, our current cannabis laws do not reflect the desire of the majority of the people. I would like to think that elections and legislation reflect the will of the people, but that is not always the case. I’m not even sure that is the case the majority of the time.
Speak Up About Cannabis – Why It Matters
Why is that? My hypothesis is that is all boils down to the difference between apathy and action. The old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the grease is true. Elections and legislation reflect the will of the entity with A) the loudest voices (read best organized and effective as messaging) and B) the one with the deepest pocket books because they are the squeaky wheels.
Abortion, gay marriage, cannabis, the environment, welfare, health insurance and immigration are hot issues of our time. The minority of the population passionate about these issues are driving the debate and the outcome. If you want a different outcome, speak up. The more people who speak up, the closer to the middle we move as a society – which I think is good.
Maybe you are afraid of how you will be judged if you speak up about cannabis. What will be the repercussion of using your voice? Will you be persecuted actively or passively in some way? Will you be labeled? I was silent on many of these issues for a long time. Who did that serve? NO ONE! Finding your voice and using it for what matters to you is empowering.
When did we become so afraid of disagreeing? Discussing our point of view is how we come to understanding one another. This is the only way we can find middle ground and poke holes in each other’s thinking. Without such discourse how do we come to some type of an agreement?
3 Simple ways you can exercise your voice to speak up about cannabis:
- Talk to family and friends. Start a conversation with people about the topic with the intent to understand their position. When we understand what is important to people and where their fear originates we can begin a meaningful discussion.
- Support an organization. There are many well organized cannabis groups that lead organized efforts at the local, state and national levels to raise awareness about cannabis laws and cannabis science. Supporting them financially, signing their petitions and sharing their newsletters and social media are easy things to do. They make it easy for your voice to be heard.
- Communicate with your elected officials. Most elected officials want to hear from you. Go see them in person, meet with their aide, call them and state your position on a certain issues and ask for their support of your position (they track those calls to know what their constituents want), write them, message them on social media! They should be working for you. If they don’t hear from you how can they effectively represent you?
Unfortunately it can be easy for people to get highly emotional when speaking about a topic for which they have great passion. This often gets in the way of effective communication. Here are a few things, I have found along the way that have helped me speak up about cannabis and engage people in discussion. These three basic principles have made it possible for me to successfully open a dialogue with people about cannabis and made it easier for them be willing to listen to my position:
- Be well informed. When you have the facts straight people respect that. Vague or not well researched information quickly destroys your credibility. If you are sharing anecdotal information don’t be afraid to call it that. Your observations and experiences count as being well informed.
- Share personal stories. You personal story makes you relatable. When someone can put themselves in your shoes, they may hear what you have to say more openly. It is at that point that you have a higher likelihood of helping someone understand your position and maybe change theirs.
- It is OK to disagree, but don’t be disagreeable. Civility is critical to successful communication. We can attack a person’s view point without attacking them. Once you attack the person, they likely can no longer hear you.
Taking a position on an issue such as cannabis can be a bit scary if you have not done so before. It is especially the case if you feel like taking a stand could harm you professionally or socially. Although it has taken me a year to work through this for myself, I have come to the conclusion that if I don’t stand up for what I believe in, who will?
What do you believe?
The blog is written by Nishi Whiteley the creator of www.MyChronicRelief.com. The website is intended to curate the most credible information about medical cannabis as a resource for the terminally and chronically ill. Nishi is a business consultant and a cannabis advocate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .