WEEK EIGHT 03/02 – 03/08: Private Sector Innovation and Policy Advancement

The private sector includes interest groups that are not run by the state. They are run by individuals that believe in a common cause and they work to advance health policy through raising awareness, advertisements, developing campaigns, and petitioning for the creation of new laws. For example, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the largest national organization that drafts bills and provides funding to support marijuana-related bills for legalization, regulation, and decriminalization at the federal and state level. They raise awareness to gather support and donations for their cause through national and local media outlets, the news, radio, videos, the internet, blogs, on Facebook and Twitter, etc. They also support state representatives that will sponsor their bills and they gather signatures for voter initiatives. In addition, they encourage college students to start chapters at their schools to increase awareness and to lobby for sensible drug policies (Students for Sensible Drug Policy, n.d.). Another national interest group promoting legalization of marijuana is NORML. Both NORML and MMP want to reform marijuana laws, however, MPP is more active in getting laws to change, while NORML supports legalization and regulation, but also has a lot of articles and blogs about the benefits of marijuana. However, you have to be skeptical while reading information presented in any interest group website, because they are very biased. NORML tries so hard to convince the public that marijuana is harmless that they have all sorts of claims on their website from marijuana may be safe to use in pregnancy to smoking pot may make you a better parent (NORML, n.d.). There are also community groups that are against legalization of marijuana such as, Yavapai County’s MATFORCE. MATFORCE launched a marijuana prevention awareness program known as Marijuana Harmless? Think Again, where they disseminate information about the risks of marijuana through social media and receive pledges/resolutions to keep communities drug-free. National anti-marijuana organizations, include Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), But What About the Children? Campaign, and Parents Opposed to Pot. The But What About the Children? Campaign is interesting, because they want provisions in place to protect kids if marijuana is legalized instead of being opposed to marijuana legalization. Project SAM also takes a neutral approach and states that they do not “demonize” marijuana, but want to prevent marijuana from being abused like alcohol and tobacco (Smart Approaches to Marijuana, n.d.). I am not aware of an advocacy group in Arizona that raises the awareness of the need for nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana. However, there are advocacy groups in other states that support the need for nurse practitioners to certify patients for medical marijuana, especially in rural areas, such as the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine (caregivers meaning marijuana growers, not actual caregivers). In addition, there are advocacy groups to maintain the rights of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to recommend medical marijuana. For example, the Rhode Island Medical Society, Rhode Island Advocacy Coalition, and Rhode Island Academy of Physician Assistants sued the Rhode Island Department of Health in 2012 for attempting to prohibit NPs and Pas from recommending patients for medical marijuana without going through the formal policy change process (Gallegos, 2012).


Gallegos, A. (2012). Doctors join legal battle against change in medical marijuana policy. Retrieved from http://www.amednews.com/article/20121105/government/311059962/7/

Marijuana Policy Project. (n.d.). Campaigns. Retrieved from http://www.mpp.org/our-work/campaigns/

NORML. (n.d.). Women’s issues. Retrieved from http://norml.org/women

Smart Approaches to Marijuana. (n.d.). Our wish list. Retrieved from http://learnaboutsam.org/our-wish-list/

Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (n.d.). Start a chapter. Retrieved from http://ssdp.org/chapters/start/


8 thoughts on “WEEK EIGHT 03/02 – 03/08: Private Sector Innovation and Policy Advancement

  1. I would be skeptical of any organization that tells you anything that hasn’t been proven as a fact or at least researched with some quantifiable results. I doubt anyone has discovered anything that will just make you a better parent and to be quite honest no one really knows the long term implications of smoking marijuana. It feels reminiscent of the 1960’s when everyone was smoking cigarettes and they had all these medicinal benefits now smoking is less popular and quite harmful to you. Time is the only constant and we will see what happens when more and more states legalize it and it starts to become regulated and studied.


  2. The private sector does have a lot of power when they are united through the special interest groups or other lobbying groups that stand united. It is nice to see that it is the same within the medical marijuana community. I love that we have the freedom in our country to support what we believe in. I was glad to hear that the Rhode Island Medical Society sued to enable nurse practitioners to be able to recommend medical marijuana to their patients. I just covered the ANA in my blog on Veteran Suicide Initiatives and how they are advocating for nurse practitioners, that they be able to work within the VA health care system hospitals to improve veteran healthcare efficiency and access. Hiring nurse practitioners would do this for the VA system, just as enabling nurse practitioners to recommend medical marijuana would improve access to patients that need these services as well. We are working in an exciting time of change, where we can help shape the world that we practice in.


    American Nurses Association – 2015 http://www.rnaction.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=12201&em_id=15901.0


  3. The legalization of medical marijuana and legalization of marijuana altogether (Colorado) is a great example of private sector innovation and influence on public policy. I would agree with your statements about the bias you have to be aware of when reading or listening to interest groups. This is frustrating to me, as I am not an expert on marijuana and gaining knowledge about the subject is through what I have seen, read, and heard. When discussing something that can be taken down to the scientific facts about the effects of marijuana on the brain, I would hope there would be legal ramifications to statements that are not factual. Nonetheless, it feels as if I am voting of persons running for office. The only real way I will ever truly know what a person is about is to know them personally. I don’t see an opening any time soon to get to know marijuana very well. Interestingly, though, I do have several friends – close friends – who use marijuana to deal with stress – including raising a family. I will say, it doesn’t make you a better parent in terms of what makes parents good. It makes you a parent who is less likely to respond to situations, which makes you a permissive parent during these times and quite possibly neglectful. FYI this is not factual but experiential.


  4. There is so much work being done in other states towards getting nurse practitioners (NP) being able to recommend and prescribe marijuana legally. Thank you for sharing information regarding the work of the organizations in Rhode Island and Maine.
    I agree with previous comments though that it is only through time and research that the facts about marijuana will become known but in the mean time since there are so many reports about the therapeutic effects of the drug there should be policy with safeguards in place to assist with the delivery of prescriptions for marijuana in place for NPs to prescribe it safely.


  5. That is really interesting. It would be smart to establish an advocacy group and speak to legislators about increasing scope to allow NP’s to write for MJA cards. A sunrise bill is currently being drafted by the AZNA for increasing scope of practice for NP’s. We can call them and ask that this be included. It wouldn’t hurt to try!


  6. Lynn, based on your research, where was the impetus for legislation in Rhode Island and Maine to accomplish NP prescribing parity? Did it originate from the NP private sector or the marijuana private sector? With this in mind, and with your insight into Arizona’s legislative politics, what do you think will be the best strategy in terms of policy leadership and impetus for accomplishing parity in Arizona? Should the leader come from the marijuana lobby or the NP lobby? -HMR


  7. To parrot what many of the other commenters have stated, I agree that we, as health providers and followers of health policy, should be skeptical of lobbying efforts and/or information stated or studied by private groups that make glorious, or deleterious, claims about substances, or actions, that can affect health. Such as NORML’s claims about the benefits of marijuana use, that are seemingly made without any evidence. One of the things I most love about the nursing profession is our practice is evidence-based. This differentiates nursing from other segments of society, such as the marijuana lobby, that may make claims based on business interests, not in the interest of public good. Perhaps this is why nurses are viewed by the American public as being the most trusted and ethical of any profession since 1999, with the exception of 2001 when firefighters were included due to their work during 9/11 and nurses were a close second (Riffkin, 2014).

    Riffkin, R. (2014). Americans rate nurses highest on honesty, ethical standards. Retrieved from: http://www.gallup.com/poll/180260/americans-rate-nurses-highest-honesty-ethical-standards.aspx


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