SAM, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, and its 501(c)(4) sister organization, SAM Action, are focused on three major issues in 2016: stopping marijuana legalization and commercialization, educating policy-makers and the public on marijuana issues, and fundraising.
SAM will continue to offer educational presentations around the country, but will do so in a more targeted and data-driven way.
- Stop Marijuana Legalization and Commercialization
SAM’s primary focus in 2016 is educating the public about the harms of marijuana legalization—a policy which has consistently placed corporate profits and addiction ahead of public health. We provide information on the harms of such policies to interested parties for use in messaging, and educate federal and state legislators on the benefits of a science-based marijuana policy.
In this election cycle in particular, we have also focused on analyzing the particulars of the ballot initiatives up for consideration, especially where they contain strongly pro-industry provisions such as:
- Packing state regulatory bodies with marijuana industry representatives;
- Legal protections for stoned drivers;
- “Corporate welfare” for marijuana businesses
- Permitting convicted heroin and methamphetamine dealers to operate marijuana businesses
SAM has a particular focus this year in Washington, D.C., working with the federal government. We will be educating lawmakers and their staff about the dangers of legalization, as well as discussing the potential benefit of expedited, but responsible, research processes to determine medical uses of components within the marijuana plant. Consistent with our mission, SAM will continue to utilize the latest science in briefings on the topics of mental illness, accidental poisonings from “edibles,” the dangers of a for-profit marijuana industry, and other topics.
Our 501(c)(4) sister organization, SAM Action, also engages on electoral issues, through sponsoring advertising and lobbying against marijuana legalization initiatives. SAM Action also raises money for organized campaigns against such initiatives, and provides technical assistance such as public opinion polling, message testing, and public outreach.
In addition, SAM and SAM Action will also focus on various regions in the country this year, including:
- States with legalization initiatives on the ballot (CA, AZ, NV, MA, ME)
- States contemplating legalization through state legislatures (VT, RI)
- States where organized efforts to implement legalization initiatives are underway (MI, FL, MO, OH)
- States where marijuana legalization has already been implemented at the state level (CO, WA, OR, AK, DC)
- States where legalization pushes may arise in the near future (NJ, NY, CT, NH)
- Educate policy-makers and the public on the harms of marijuana use and marijuana commercialization
SAM also invests heavily its longer-term goals of educating the public and policy-makers alike on the harms of marijuana use and marijuana commercialization, the importance of science-based drug policy, and research into the potential medical use of compounds derived from marijuana. Working with our state affiliates, we hold federal, state, and local-level briefings across the country on those issues, as well as producing and distributing a wide range of educational materials on this issue at no charge.
As 2016 is a presidential election year, SAM is also engaging presidential candidates and their staff on the negative impact of marijuana legalization.
Additionally, SAM is elaborating a model policy document on criminal justice reform related to marijuana. While SAM strongly opposes marijuana legalization, it does not believe that jail is the right solution for treating drug use and addiction, and strongly supports alternatives to incarceration.
Finally, SAM Action is working to build a coalition against marijuana legalization in state and federal legislatures, and expanding its membership base across the country.
SAM is broadening its fundraising efforts as its mission grows in scope and import. We have started a focused campaign to raise money to grow SAM’s infrastructure, including hiring top-tier professionals and significantly expanding SAM’s reach through email distribution and social media.
These efforts have already paid off this year, as SAM has been able to hire an Executive Assistant and Director of Communications, and move into larger office space in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
SAM Action also continues to fundraise to support lobbying efforts against marijuana legalization nationwide, including in California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Maine.