It’s a new year and I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce myself, BOWL PAC, and what it is we’re hoping to accomplish with your help.
My name is Justin Strekal, and I believe that marijuana policy reform is good policy AND good politics. And I’m sick of members of Congress refusing to take a stand. Do you agree? Consider joining BOWL PAC as a sustaining supporter by making a monthly contribution OR make a one-time contribution now.
This is going to be a long post, but if for no other reason than me bearing my soul and earnest desires to unf*ck America, I wanted to make sure you got our start of the year message.
I founded BOWL PAC with a few allies from across the political spectrum for one reason: it’s time for prohibitionist politicians to evolve or lose their seats in Congress.
Support for legalization has grown year over year for decades thanks to the tireless work of activists and advocates who prioritized the issue. For a long time, marijuana reform was considered a fringe issue, but now in 2023, its political potency cannot be denied. With a supermajority of the American public supporting legalization, this is an issue whose time has come.
One candidate we were proud to support in last year’s midterm elections was now-Senator John Fetterman, who was the only 2022 candidate to flip partisan control of a Senate seat. Young people were the most likely group to support John Fetterman, backing him by a 42 point margin over prohibitionist Dr. Oz. This margin was crucial to his victory. The fact that more than half of young voters want Congress to take action to deschedule cannabis makes the connection between the issue and support for the pro-marijuana candidate undeniable. By comparison, younger Florida voters favored Democrat Val Demings, who did not take up a proudly pro-legalization stance, by only 12 points.
In a day and age when many elections are decided by razor-thin margins, it would be political malpractice for legalization candidates to hide their stance and forfeit the political benefits. BOWL PAC was created to make sure they don’t.
Our vision at BOWL PAC is to unite various factions of the evolving American electorate in support of marijuana reform. Over the last year, we stood with allies on various political issues that are directly connected to the harms of marijuana prohibition.
Read below for just a few of the joint actions we supported this year and why:
Campaign finance reform and dark money – What Secret Money Means For Legal Weed: As long as the halls of power are dominated by the big money interests who employ an army of lobbyists and attorneys to continue to rig the system, good folks like yourself and I will continue to be relegated to the back of the line for consideration on our popular reform positions, including marijuana legalization.
The 21st-century labor movement and unions – Curbing Bad Practices In The Cannabis Industry: Too often we see headlines like “Wage-theft complaint snares Colorado CBD maker,” “Spokane Cannabis Business Could Owe Employees as Much as $300,000 in Unpaid Wages,” and “Cannabis’s boom-bust cycle has a hidden victim: workers.”… As this marketplace continues to come out of the shadows of an underground economy, we must not repeat the same mistakes that so many other industries have exploited: we must provide labor protections and guarantee the right for workers to have a seat at the table.
Climate and renewables – Marijuana Takes A Lot Of Energy To Grow, So Why Not Use Solar Energy? The indoor cultivation of cannabis requires a setup that can consume up to 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter, 40 times what it takes for leafy greens like lettuce when grown indoors. So as the legalization of marijuana continues to unfold in states around the country, it’s critical we do our part to make sure we do not solve one problem by creating another. Let’s build a country that grows the best cannabis in the world in a sustainable fashion.
The college affordability crisis – Student Debt, Marijuana And The Economy The unfortunate reality is that 45 million people in this country still have thousands of dollars left on their student loan bills. For decades, aspiring students have been unable to obtain any federal loans if they have a marijuana conviction within the last seven years. This means that college-bound young people who had been caught with a joint were forced to take out private loans with sky-high interest rates. This collateral consequence contributes to working-class kids backsliding into a lower socioeconomic status when they reach adulthood.
Only when we acknowledge the intersection of our political and policy problems can we build the kind of coalition needed to force the Congress to be responsive to the public. That includes support for legalizing marijuana, along with taking on any of the other major issues our political system seems unable to respond to. By using legalization as a “tip of the spear” issue with citizens who feel disillusioned with the political process, we can have a higher success rate. Mobilizing non-voters is a lot more effective then trying to persuade those who can’t decide between an oppressor or a progressive candidate.
There are a lot of “scam PACs” out there. That means it’s more important than ever for political organizations to be transparent about the work they’re doing. In the 11 months BOWL PAC has been operational, our small but scrappy team has done some remarkable things. I’m excited to share with you that some of our impact highlights include:
- Nearly 100,000 email members recruited in less than a year
- 315,185 actions taken by supporters over the year through reform-focused joint actions with allies such as Data for Progress, Democracy for America, Earl Blumenauer, Ro Khanna, Rashida Tlaib, National Campaign for Justice, More Perfect Union, Hip Hop Caucus, and many more on topics like Presidential Pardons, passing the MORE Act, drug testing reform, and “Dank Brandon”
- Over 1,200 unique grassroots donors, with an average donation of $13.57
- Raised awareness and funds for pro-legalization candidates including John Fetterman, Raphael Warnock, Jerry Nadler, Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer, and others
- Media Hits from The Daily Show, Vox, Politico, LA Weekly, Forbes, Law 360, and other distinguished outlets
- 20+ engagements per $1 spend on digital communications promoting pro-legalization candidates in tight races
Compared to some other political groups that tend to light massive piles of money on fire with relatively little return on investment, I am tremendously proud of the intentional investments we’ve made and what we have accomplished with our resources.
During the midterm elections, we successfully advertised to legalization supporters with low-to-moderate likelihood of voting and encouraged them to support pro-legalization candidates like Fetterman. Through our work, we engaged one person for every five cents spent on advertising—collectively generating thousands of individual engagements per spend in not only Pennsylvania, but in Ohio and Wisconsin too.
While only Fetterman was successful in his race, pro-reform candidates Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Tim Ryan in Ohio both over performed expectations and came much closer than many pundits said they would, losing by just 1 and 6 points respectively.
If we can take the lessons learned and employ them much earlier, then we can compete even harder in key House and Senate races.
That’s why I am asking you to support us with a donation, be it a one time or as a sustaining supporter, to ensure that we elect members of Congress who are receptive to the will of the people. What’s a more timely barometer for progress than legalization?
We’ve said it since we launched last February: Our goal is to mobilize citizens who strongly support legalization yet may not turn out to vote.
With the help of so many, we did that in 2022.
With your help, we will do even more in 2023 and beyond.
Thank you for being in this fight with us to elect a better government, free of those who think adults should be locked in jail cells for simply smoking a joint.