Every once in awhile you’re lucky enough to have a teacher or professor that really impacts your life. For me, that professor was Dr. Brown. Yes, that’s right. Doc Brown. But rather than the nutty science geek type, my Doc Brown was a political science professor who inspired critical thinking on subjects like capital punishment and citizen action that have shaped my view of the world ever since.
Doc Brown would sit with a group of us students in the cafeteria and enthusiastically debate and question and counsel. I’ve never forgotten something he told us all one day during a lively discussion about how “the system” worked and everything we hated about it. He told us bright-eyed 20-somethings that if we really wanted to take over the world, to start with our local party caucus.
He said, “you’d be surprised how few people actually make decisions about who and what the party supports. So if you want a certain candidate or a certain issue, if you want to change the world, go to your caucus and take your neighbors with you.”
So here’s your chance to get politically active in a small way that can have big impact. This is when being affiliated with a party is really beneficial.
Republican, Democratic and American Constitution Party Caucuses are scheduled for Tuesday, March 4. All registered party members will be welcome to attend and participate. However, under Colorado law, if you’re not affiliated with a party, you can’t participate in caucuses or primaries.
Attending a caucus is your opportunity to:
- meet and talk with your neighbors,
- in contested races, support candidates who support cannabis,
- encourage candidates and elected officials to listen to our concerns and support cannabis as well,
- propose and weigh in on party platform ideas,
- run for delegate to county and state assemblies.
Caucus attendees can bring proposed party platform planks to the caucus meeting; they can also share with their friends in other precincts and other counties. For example, in 2012, the Colorado Democratic Party included an endorsement of Amendment 64 in their platform.
Here are some proposed platform ideas you might introduce:
- Amend the banking laws to allow cannabis transactions to take place via checks and credit cards.
- Reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I substance (state and federal).
- Allow clubs for consumption of cannabis.
- Release those serving time for marijuana crimes that would be legal now after A64.
- That urine testing for marijuana be disallowed now that marijuana use is legal.
- Create an advisory board to oversee how the marijuana tax money is spent.
- That a process be put in place to allow additional conditions to be considered for medical usage.
- Allow Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a condition for medical cannabis.
You may not get everything you want, or anything you want, but you will open the discussion. Remember that this is a teaching moment, an opportunity to educate your neighbors on these issues. If you want to be effective, it’s important to remain calm and collected. You must be the face of the responsible cannabis consumer.
The web site for the League of Women Votershas some great information about caucuses.
What Is A Caucus?
Colorado political parties hold precinct caucuses to begin the process of choosing candidates and platforms (policy positions) for the election year. Caucuses, which are open to the public, are held throughout Colorado, usually on the first Tuesday in March. In Presidential election years, parties may choose to hold caucuses on the first Tuesday in February.
Where Are Caucuses Held?
Caucuses must be held in a public place or a private home within the precinct or very near to the precinct and accessible to those with disabilities. Each party’s central committee is responsible for selecting the time and location of the caucus. Signs designating precinct caucus locations must be posted no later than 12 days before the caucus. To determine your precinct number, visit the secretary of state’s websiteand access your voter information. You must contact the political partywith which you are affiliated to obtain your caucus location.
Who Can Vote At A Caucus?
Requirements for voting in a precinct caucus include the following:
- The voter must be a resident of the precinct for 30 days,
- Registered to vote no later than 29 days before the caucus, and
- The voter must have been affiliated with the party holding the caucus at least 2 months before the caucus.
What Happens At A Caucus?
Those who attend precinct caucuses may elect delegates and alternates to represent the precinct at the party’s county or district conventions. Officers who will organize political activities within a precinct may also be elected.
The Denver web site has some great information about caucuses in Denver.
You can verify your voter registration and find your precinct numberat the Secretary of State’s web site.
So now it’s your turn. Get active. Go to your caucus. Change the world. Doc Brown would be proud.
This article was originally publishedon the Cannabis Patients Alliance website.