Viewing posts by Paul Birch

Why a political party?

There have been lots of posts - and no little scepticism - expressing why we have decided to form a political party rather than supporting existing campaign groups. Many of you have cited the lack of historic success of single-issue parties in the UK, the quirks of the UK first-past-the-post system that mitigates against smaller parties and the Green's existing manifesto commitment to legalising cannabis.

We have weighed up each of these issues before choosing to take forward the establishment of a political party. Our reckoning is that this is the best way to bring the compelling evidence in support of changes to law to mainstream public attention. We intend to hold parties such as the Greens and the Liberal Democrats to account for policies they espouse in their manifestos and bring forward new distinctive voices and personalities to support reform.

Our focus at this stage remains finding high quality candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds who can represent us in what is going to be a long campaign. We will also be reaching out to all the other political parties in the coming weeks as we consider our constituency policy - we have no intention of splitting the vote by standing in seats such as Brighton Pavilion and Cambridge. Caroline Lucas (Greens) and Julian Huppert (Lib Dems), who are vocally pro-legalisation, both have a chance of winning.

The success of the campaign in Colorado was founded on both the breadth and diversity of its support. We want to emulate that. We recognise that we have to do much more to reach out to those who have been at the vanguard of activism over the past decade or more and we are building up our resources to do that. This engagement will take many forms; across meet ups, social media and mainstream media.

Over the next week we will be bolstering our social media presence/content across Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube. At the same time, we will be making subtle changes to our branding based on the feedback we have had in the week since we launched (thanks everyone) and readying ourselves for more mainstream media coverage. We are also intending to reach out to the different regions of the UK to fix meetings with our friends and followers.

Some of you have also raised the question of "Why a Royal Commission?". We have a settled view on this and are consulting with the Institute for Government on how best to create a new approach to Royal Commissions in the digital age not just in terms of creating cross-party consensus, but also allowing the public to fully engage with the process.

Momentum is the key in all political campaigns and we intend to up our game week-on-week.

You are keeping us on our toes as we grow. Please join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Becoming a CISTA candidate

Most of our candidates will never have run for parliament before... so here’s what being a CISTA candidate will actually involve.

Knocking on doors
Winning votes starts with spending time talking to the people who live on your street. And then the street after that. And the street after that. Convincing them that cannabis legalisation makes sense. You’ll help the people you talk put a name to a cause, give them a chance to voice their concerns and supply them with the good solid facts they need to make up their minds.

Social media
We know that knocking on doors won’t reach everyone. So you’ll use facebook and twitter to spread stories, stats and information to people around the country. Creating a buzz online is key to getting politicians to engage with cannabis legalisation this election.

Workshops and training
Whether you’ve never spoken in public before or are a hardened cannabis activist, CISTA will offer you support. We can help with everything from paperwork and media training to crowdfunding, which we’re currently looking into. We know you may be in full time work or study, and that you are not a career politician, so we’ll be helping you make being a candidate work around your other commitments.

Holding politicians to account
We all know that many MPs and candidates are scared of vocally supporting cannabis legalisation, even though they might privately support it. By challenging them at hustings, in your local news and on the doorsteps of voters you can force them to confront the fact that legalisation makes sense.

We need volunteers. We’re looking for people who can makes 30 second videos saying why they support cannabis legalisation. Whether you’re a medicinal user, a recreational or occasional user, or concerned about safety in your area we want to share your message.

Please get in contact with Candidate Liason at if you are interested in standing for CISTA as a candidate.