What engagement did you see around the campaign for Ballot Initiative 71 that legalized recreational cannabis in DC?
The main vehicle for getting the word out was Twitter. We had a website that was updated daily. The webmaster was also our communications director, so he was doing coding and writing emails regularly.
The newscycle was obsessed with the initiative. We were in the news almost every week for about a year, with total impressions hitting about 2 billion.
In this case, we had very little opposition – I knew [anti-marijuana-legalization groups such as] Smart Approaches to Marijuana wouldn’t invest in Washington, DC, because it’s probably the hardest place for them to turn votes. We were able to take our yes voter numbers in the polls from 50% and 60% to 70.1% on election day.
The campaign recently held a marijuana seed exchange. How did that go?
Some of the best ideas in our campaign came from volunteers – someone suggested it and we looked into the idea and realized it was legal.
For the 5,000 people that showed up at the two seed shares, it was a moment of truth and a time where they actually exercised the law in a public way. We didn’t publicize it besides posting it on our website and on Twitter. We didn’t pitch it to the media, but they got wind of it.
That was one of the strategies of this campaign, to intentionally leave the media out of the plan a lot of the time.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to work on the minimum wage campaign, supporting two coalitions: The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the DC Working Families coalition.
Also, on January 1, 2016, I am going to go on a pot strike. I’m not going to use marijuana through the election at least and I’m going to document whatever withdrawal or symptoms I observe – or perhaps nothing will happen.
When people ask me why I’m going to do it, I say, "Marijuana is used by certain people who don’t make enough money, and I want everyone to get a raise. We have to start with the lowest-paid workers."
After seeing how marijuana in the nation’s capital can generate such a buzz, maybe the issue of raising wages and talking about companies capping executive pay will finally catch on as a popular issue in the way it should be.