Representation & Accessibility Subcommittee

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on MA unity.” Tradition One

“The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana.”                  Tradition Three

“No matter who you are, where you came from, or what you did, you cannot be denied membership in Marijuana Anonymous.” Life With Hope (3rd Ed.) p.69 Tradition Three

“Each group has but one primary purpose, to carry its message to the marijuana addict who still suffers.” Tradition Five

What is the R&A Subcommittee?

The Representation and Accessibility Subcommittee (“R&A subcommittee”) is an extension of the MA World Services’ Outreach Committee. The R&A subcommittee is a group of MA members from multiple meetings, home groups, regions and districts who want to center topics like visibility, safety, equity, access, and upholding the spirit of the MA Traditions. This subcommittee is concerned with discussion and taking action to support all currently underrepresented or marginalized identities so that all communities might feel a sense liberation from the exclusion. Not only do we talk about these things, but we actively work on them.

The R&A subcommittee drafts handouts (like this newly updated Safety Statement: ma12.org/safetycard, and other handouts, below) and creates other resources to support and empower members, Meetings, Groups, and Districts in addressing concerns like safety, representation, visibility, equity and accessibility. Another goal of the R&A subcommittee is for everyone who would like to be of service to feel welcome and able to be involved at the various levels of service; Meetings/Groups, Districts/Regions, and MA World Services. 

The R&A subcommittee is always seeking ways to best support “our common welfare” (Tradition One), fulfill MA’s primary purpose of carrying “the message to the marijuana addict who still suffers” (Tradition Five), and ensure that all marijuana addicts with a desire to stop using marijuana feel welcome and safe in MA, and have access to the message of recovery (Tradition Three). R&A remains open to feedback on our work, and welcomes suggestions on how to better fulfill these goals, as well as on what resources the fellowship would like R&A to work on next. 

How to Contact the R&A Subcommittee

The R&A subcommittee is always looking for members who are willing to be of service by sharing ways to help with important issues regarding safety, equity, and access for marginalized communities. We would like to learn more about the issues that are important to you, and ideas about how the subcommittee can best be of service to all members of the fellowship, in particular, all currently underrepresented or marginalized identities. We encourage feedback on all elements of the work currently being done by R&A  and are open to feedback regarding our approach.

To contact R&A, email: representation.and.accessibility@ma12.org

How to Get Involved with the R&A Subcommittee

The only requirements to become a member of the R&A subcommittee is treating others respectfully and consistent with MA’s Third Tradition, having a desire to stop using marijuana. All members of MA are welcome and encouraged to join the R&A subcommittee! You are welcome to join the committee to make suggestions, even for just one meeting, you do not have to commit to permanently joining the subcommittee. Service work looks different for everyone and there are many opportunities to be of service. 

The R&A subcommittee currently meets on Zoom every first Saturday of the Month from 9:30 – 11:00 AM PT / 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM ET 

If there are any issue you are invested in addressing please consider joining R&A to  work on that project! The best way to help make MA a better place and foster the change you are interested in, is to get involved in R&A’s efforts and help to “create the fellowship you crave.” Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed., p. 164,

Email representation.and.accessibility@MA12.org with any questions, suggestions or issues, or to get information on how to attend a R&A meeting!

R&A Resources for Groups & Meetings 

The below resources are suggestive only, and are not endorsed or required by MA World Services. The were developed on request to provide tools for members and meetings to use (or not use) and to share experience, strength and hope from other groups. R&A exists as a resource, and does not govern. There is no central authority or government within MA, and groups and meetings are autonomous and free to use or not use these resources however best suits the needs of their group and “the common welfare” as determined by the group conscience. We are open to feedback on these resources, so please email any suggestions to the below contacts.

  • Marijuana Anonymous’ Commitment to Member Safety *newly updated* it’s also available using the easily shareable “short link” https://ma12.org/safetycard
    • This recently revised and updated suggested Safety Statement is designed to affirm a meeting’s commitment to the safety of its members, inform members what World Services can and cannot do, and provide members with information about what to do if they feel unsafe in the meeting. It can be adapted by groups and meetings as part of their meeting’s format, to read in whole, or in part, or made available for members  – however is best suited for the group as determined by the group conscience. 
  •  Safeguarding Our Common Welfare: Safety & MA Also available at https://ma12.org/safety
    • This handout contains suggestions collected based off the experience, strength, and hope of multiple MA meetings, groups, districts and regions to share with other member and groups seeking support and guidance about addressing and/or preventing various meeting safety concerns.
  • Sample Meeting Format Language: Crosstalk, Safety Issues, & Phone List Usage Also available at ma12.org/meetingformats
    • This recently updated and revised handout contains suggested language relating to frequently encountered safety & representation issues that members and meetings can consider adding to their group or meeting’s scripts/formats to help make their meetings more safe and welcoming to all members. 
  • Enabling Closed Captioning for Virtual Meetings Also available at https://ma12.org/closedcaptions
    • This recently revised and updated tutorial can help make all virtual MA meetings more accessible. We suggest enabling closed captions before any members request it (and maybe even adding a reminder to the format). 
  • Handout on How to Call and Hold a Business Meeting Also available at the short link https://ma12.org/businessmeetings
    • This handout contains guidance to support members and meetings in holding business meetings to come to a group conscience as may be needed to address or implement the ideas in the handouts shared above, among other common issues. Business meetings are one of our primary tools in MA for establishing the group conscience as is needed to make changes in MA, whether in your meeting or at the district-level, or even at the World Services level.  

How Can R&A Support Members, Meetings, Groups, Regions, and Districts?

  • What else would you or your group, meeting, or district find helpful relating to issues of representation and accessibility?
  • What other types of resources would you like to see from the R&A subcommittee?
    • Written materials/handouts? Pre-Recorded Videos? Interactive Workshops? Speaker panels? Anything else? 
  • What topics could your meetings or groups use support with from the R&A subcommittee?
    • Accessibility questions? Safety Issues? Dealing with disruptive behavior or harassment? Advice on making your meeting more welcoming to underrepresented or marginalized groups? Help reviewing your group’s format language? Materials about how to hold business meetings?
  • Please reach out to the R&A subcommittee and let us know! We are here to help!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who Does the R&A Subcommittee Represent? And How?

While we strive to represent everyone in MA, regardless of how they identify, the R&A subcommittee focuses on supporting marijuana addicts from underrepresented and marginalized communities. If underrepresented and marginalized members of MA are better supported, and MA is made more accessible for disabled people, and people with other access needs, MA will be a better, safer, more welcoming place for all of its members, regardless of how they identify. But our focus has remained on those groups who because of a lack of representation or access, or being subjected to language used in a meeting format or by meeting members that is hurtful to them, without the other folks in the meeting realizing it (such as gendered language) can experience feelings of exclusion, lack of safety, and a lack of representation in MA to the point that it prevents them from attending MA meetings and threatens their recovery. 

For example, a disabled person who has an access need that the meeting does not meet (like closed captioning on a virtual meeting) may feel uncomfortable asking for it, so they might never attend a MA meeting again instead of asking for accommodations for their disability, so being as accessible as is reasonably possible before someone requests it will make MA more welcoming for anyone with any type of accommodation need or disability so they can feel safer making a request if they require different accommodations, especially if they see other accommodations being made.

For some, not seeing others like themselves represented in MA, or being treated differently for talking about how their typically underrepresented identity relates to their recovery, or hearing unintentionally hurtful language in a meeting format or from meeting members, or a lack of accessibility, can even prevent some marijuana addicts from even attending any meetings and starting their recovery with MA. This is because someone who is considering recovery may assume MA is not the place for them and that they won’t feel welcome or be represented in meetings because of what they may hear from others in their community who have attended MA meetings and felt underrepresented or excluded, or read about MA, or something they even see about the meeting on the meeting finder. 

To knowingly permit and ignore such potentially exclusionary behaviors (however unintentional they may be) that keep marijuana addicts from finding recovery in MA goes against the spirit of our Fifth Tradition, which states that our “primary purpose is to carry the message to the marijuana addict who still suffers.”  So our goal in all we do is to make MA a better place for underrepresented and marginalized communities in furtherance of the Fifth Tradition so that we can better carry the message of recovery to more marijuana addicts in need!

The R&A subcommittee tries to attend meetings/groups throughout the fellowship to introduce ourselves, and see how we can help the meeting/group with issues like safety, representation, and accessibility. But another important aspect of visiting groups/meetings is to notice who is not present in any MA meetings, including our own subcommittee meetings, other committee meetings, or even in meetings formed by and for members from underrepresented communities. By doing so, we can work on ways to better carry the message to those marijuana addicts who have yet to find  MA, or are not staying in MA, so that they too can get the message of recovery!

However you identify, we would love to hear from you. There are no requirements for membership or participation in the R&A subcommittee, and everyone’s feedback and perspective is appreciated and valued! 

Why Does MA Need an R&A Subcommittee? How Does the R&A Subcommittee’s Work Follow the MA Traditions?

When addressing issues of representation, accessibility and safety in MA, the R&A subcommittee leans heavily on our Traditions. While Tradition One states that “our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon MA unity” in what is sometimes referred to as “long form” of Tradition One in Life with Hope, it further explains that “Unity should not be confused with uniformity.Life with Hope (Tradition One). We have found it to be true that “our common welfare” and “MA unity” can be maintained, not in spite of, but because of the ways that we support the diversity of our meetings/groups and strive to better support members from underrepresented and marginalized communities. And this remains true so long as we maintain “MA unity” in other aspects of our recovery, including in upholding the principles and Traditions of MA by doing things such as working together to fulfill our primary purpose of carrying the message (Tradition Five), following the group conscience (Tradition Two) and respecting the autonomy of meetings (Tradition Four) and everything else that members do together in furtherance of “our common welfare” and “MA unity” (Tradition One), especially when they feel that they are welcome, respected, and safe to be themselves in MA. 

Some individuals are only able to come to MA meetings, access recovery for themselves, and ultimately be part of a group that is working together towards the “common welfare” and “MA unity” that Tradition One speaks to when they themselves feel welcome, represented, and safe enough in MA to be themselves, and do not feel required to hide their true selves or be “uniformly alike” the other members in order to be “a part of” the group, welcome in MA, or even feel safe attending, or sharing about themselves and their recovery in MA meetings. And if a disabled person, or someone with access needs is unable to even access MA meetings due to a lack of accessibility, they cannot even be part of the “common welfare” or “MA unity” in Tradition One at all cannot even attend a meeting, so R&A’s work is supported by Tradition One,.

The importance of issues of representation and accessibility is also supported by the broad autonomy granted to meetings by Tradition Four, as it explains how the diversity of meetings that sprouts from that autonomy is beneficial to the fellowship as a whole in the ways it allows for experimentation, learning, and growth at the meeting level. Life with Hope (Tradition Four). The breadth of the autonomy granted to meetings/groups is wide, and groups/meetings are free to do whatever they would like to do with their meeting formats (provided that it does not interfere with other groups or MA as a whole) including impose additional restrictions on meeting attendance and membership (like a men’s stag meeting, a women’s meeting, a meeting for POC, or a LGBTQIA+ meeting) or put into place additional sobriety requirements for accepting milestone chips (such as requiring complete abstinence from all mind-altering substances while other meetings give chips based on abstinence from marijuana based on MA’s “singleness of purpose”).  

As Life with Hope further explains “Every group can manage itself exactly as it pleases, except where MA as a whole is affected.” and “may make any decisions or adopt any format it likes.” Life with Hope (long form of Tradition Four). This is because “MA has the courage and faith to allow each group to make its own decisions” and this faith translates into having trust in MA groups/meetings to uphold the Traditions and not make decisions which would be detrimental to other MA groups or MA as a whole. Life with Hope, (long form of Tradition Four). Given that faith and trust, groups/meetings are free to choose by the group conscience to do just about anything with their group/meeting that they believe will better fulfill the Fifth Tradition, which, once again, states: “Each group has but one primary purpose, to carry its message to the marijuana addict who still suffers.”

Ultimately, the broad autonomy granted by the MA Traditions to meetings and groups by Tradition Four exists to support the diverse needs of MA’s members, and marijuana addicts who have yet to find MA by allowing meetings/groups to do whatever they believe will best fulfill the Fifth Tradition by allowing them to better carry the message to their meeting/group’s existing members, to the marijuana addict who still suffers and has yet to find MA, and in some instances, to current MA members and marijuana addicts who have not yet found MA who the group/meeting’s members believe are underrepresented in MA, or otherwise in need of a group/meeting where they might feel more welcome, safe, or better represented. So for these reasons, a group/meeting may choose within their autonomy to adopt by the group conscience a format that has language that is welcoming to underrepresented groups.

For example, a meeting/group that wants to be welcoming and safe to people of all genders, including those who may not identify as men or women, may revise the format to remind members not to use gendered language like “guys and girls” or “Ladies and Gentleman,” and offer up non-gendered alternatives like “folks” or “people” instead. The format might include other language about sharing one’s pronouns to help gender non-conforming members in the group/meeting feel better represented, welcome and/or safe, by encouraging all members to share their pronouns (cis members included, not just trans members) it normalizes not making assumptions in a way that can make some members feel more welcome than they would if the format disregarded pronouns and even said “Good evening ladies and gentleman” to further disregard their existence. While it won’t fix everything, language does matter, and it is a place to start the work of making MA a more safe and welcoming place. When a group/meeting’s format contains language or a meeting’s member’s use language that is harmful to other group/meeting members from underrepresented or marginalized groups, or that disregards their identities, it can not only make them feel unsafe, unwelcome, and not represented by MA, but also generally distracts from their recovery all of which takes away from the spirit of the Fifth Tradition. 

The R&A subcommittee works to support groups/meetings, other MA committees, districts and members in their efforts to address issues of representation and accessibility, and safety concerns, so that MA will become an even safer, more welcoming and accessible place where all marijuana addicts, including more disabled addicts and addicts with underrepresented and marginalized identities, can feel better represented, more welcome at more MA meetings and safer to be themselves, so that newcomers and long time MA members alike will find and continue to carry the message of recovery and . . .

KEEP COMING BACK! 

If you have additional questions about the R&A subcommittee and the MA Traditions, you can contact the R&A Subcommittee or the Outreach Trustee, as the R&A subcommittee was formed by the Outreach Committee, and both committees are facilitated by the Outreach Trustee. You can also contact the Policies and Procedure Trustee with questions regarding the Traditions, and other MA Policies & Procedures.

To contact the Outreach Trustee: outreach@marijuana-anonymous.org 

To contact the Policies and Procedures Trustee: policiesandprocedures@marijuana-anonymous.org

 

The diversity of our meetings, groups and members are amongst the greatest strengths of our fellowship!  

 

To contact the R&A Subcommittee: representation.and.accessibility@MA12.org

To contact the Outreach Policies Trustee: OutreachPolicies@MA12.org

To contact the Policies & Procedures Trustee: PoliciesAndProcedures@MA12.org