by Michelle Rutter, NCIA Government Relations Manager
Maybe it’s the heat and humidity of D.C. that drives people out of the Beltway – after all, our nation’s capital was built on a swamp! But each year during the month of August, Congress “recesses” or goes home. Traditionally, this time has been used for Members to return home to their districts and meet with constituents and, of course, campaign for re-election. This makes August a quiet month in D.C., but it’s a great time for you and your colleagues to get involved with the political process, engage with Members of Congress, and educate them on cannabis policy.
Since this year has been one for the history books when it comes to cannabis policy in Washington, D.C., we want to make sure your Representative and Senators hear from you during recess. Here are some ways to get involved with the political process – without having to travel to DC!
Attend a town hall
During August recess members of congress tend to hold town halls during their district work periods. Go to https://townhallproject.com/, type in your zip code and find town halls in your district. If there are some being held, prepare a question or two to ask your Representative or Senators and get them on the record about cannabis policy!
Invite Members of Congress to tour your business
Even though cannabis is arguably more mainstream than it’s ever been, many elected officials still have not had the chance to experience what the responsible and legal cannabis industry looks like firsthand. Whether you’re involved with growing, processing, or dispensing cannabis, or operate an ancillary business, offering a tour to a Member of Congress and/or their staff is absolutely invaluable to them. Reach out to your elected officials’ district office and ask if they would be interested in a tour – they are likely more curious than you would expect!
Schedule a meeting with the Member’s district office
August recess means Members of Congress are home for an entire month and is a great opportunity to meet with them and their staff! There are very few things more compelling than a personal story when talking to elected officials, so whether your experience has been with the benefits of medical cannabis, the unfair tax burden of 280E, or the struggle for traditional banking, so be sure to schedule an appointment with your district office to tell that story. Find out who your Representative and Senators are and visit their website to see where their district office is located.
Call your Representative and Senators
Although Congress leaves D.C. during the August recess, that doesn’t mean the phones stop ringing! Call their D.C. and district offices to urge them to support our priority legislation. You can find out who your Representative and Senators are and how to call them here.
Whether you’re talking to a Member of Congress or their staff at an event, or just giving their office a call to ask for their support, remember these easy tips:
- Know what you want to say. Write down or get familiar with some talking points that you want to relay. For example, you can include asking the elected official to cosponsor a specific bill, tell your personal story about your cannabis business, or simply just share your views on cannabis policy.
- Nicely introduce yourself. If on the phone, state your name, address and telephone number so they can submit your comments into the congressional system.
- Identify yourself as a concerned voter. Make sure that they understand that you are a concerned voter and tell them “I would like to express my support for the SAFE Banking Act, HR 1595/S. 1200”.
We all have a responsibility to educate and engage with elected officials in order to change the perception surrounding cannabis. August recess is the perfect opportunity to get involved with federally elected officials without having to leave home! If you need advice, help, or materials to assist you, remember to contact NCIA’s Washington, D.C. office by emailing Michelle@TheCannabisIndustry.org.