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/