Conventions are events where we come together to celebrate our recovery in Marijuana Anonymous and enjoy the fellowship of others. Each Convention (and the host planning committee) should follow the same 12 Traditions that are followed at the group and district levels.
At the MAWS 1996 Conference, a motion passed that stated “The MA Convention host district(s) will be determined two calendar years in advance at the MAWS Conference.”
If Convention hosts are not determined two calendar years in advance, a district may make it’s desire known to the Trustees between Conferences to serve as host. To ensure that such District have adequate time for planning and fundraising, the Trustees may vote for interim approval of that District as Convention host, which would then be ratified by the Conference body at the next occurring Conference.
Between Conferences, districts discuss their desire to host a Convention at their DSC (and at their individual meetings) and bring that group conscience to the next Conference. The decision to host a Convention should have the support of as many of the district(s) members as possible.
As stated in another 1996 Conference motion, delegates of districts not hosting a Convention serve as liaisons between their district and the district hosting the next year’s Convention.
While the primary purpose of a Convention is not to raise money for MAWS, Convention hosts have historically donated some or all of the profits from a Convention to MA World Services. In fact, a 1995 Motion stated that all monies in excess of $1000 should be donated to World Services. The remaining $1000 serves as “seed money” to be passed to the next year’s Convention host, or to World Services, which can then pass the money to the next year’s Convention host. This tradition of passing seed money on to the next Convention host began after our first Convention in 1995.
It is preferred that a Convention Host District use its own established bank account, but records must be kept which separate convention funds from the District’s basic operating funds. If a bank account (existing or new) is used which utilizes the MAWS Tax ID #, accurate bookkeeping records must be submitted in a timely manner to the MAWS Treasurer.
TYPES OF CONVENTIONS
Since the first convention in 1995, MA World Services has officially endorsed one Convention per year, hosted by a district approved at the Conference. However, this does not prevent a group, district, or region from hosting other Conventions.
The One-day Session: This event usually starts with a welcome meeting followed by MA workshops, panels, and/or service meetings, depending on the focus of the Convention. There may be a featured speaker meeting at the end of the event.
The Weekend Convention: This is an ideal format for group, district, or regional Conventions. Usually an opening meeting on a Friday night, followed by some type of entertainment. Meetings, workshops, and panels continue through Saturday and Sunday. Typically there is a Saturday night banquet with a guest speaker and a dance afterward. Men and women’s stag meetings have historically been held on Sunday morning before a closing session, which may include a sobriety countdown, birthday cake(s), or a speaker.
Unless it’s a very small get-together, the work involved in setting up a convention is too much for any one person. A convenient way of forming the convention committee is simply to appoint a general chairperson who in turn completes the committee by finding volunteers to chair the various subcommittees. Another method, which may be used when a number of groups are sponsoring a convention, is for each group to send a representative to a convention planning meeting. Once the meeting is in session, these representatives can elect a chairperson from amongst themselves and assign the rest of the members to specific committees. In some cases conventions may be the responsibility of the district service committee. In others, the convention committee may be organized separately. Either method works well if it corresponds with the wishes of the MA group in that area. Once assembled, the convention committee may be organized along functional lines, with each chairperson taking responsibility for a phase of the planning. The following is a typical example:
Chairperson runs the entire convention by coordinating the work of the subcommittee chairpersons. Stays on top of the progress of all arrangements. Calls committee meetings as they are needed. Host District will elect a Convention Chairperson. It is suggested the Convention Chairperson have at least one year clean and sober, defined as abstinence from marijuana, alcohol, and all other mind altering substances
Secretary keeps written records, including minutes of committee meetings; sends out notices of committee meetings to members; and sends invitations to speakers and panel members who lead various meetings.
Treasurer is responsible for all money, including revenues from registration and banquet tickets; pays all bills, advises the chairperson on cash supply and income flow, as well as expenditures. Provides World Services Treasurer with all Convention expense and income information. This position ought to be filled by a person with a few years of sobriety and some solid business experience.
Program Chairperson plans the meetings around a convention theme. He or She invites the speakers and panel members, and makes sure the program is not overloaded with open meetings.
Ticket Chairperson supervises printing and distribution of all registration and raffle tickets, staying focused on bringing in the collections.
Public Information Chairperson. In the case of a large convention, this person would make sure that MA’s principle of attraction rather than promotion is followed, and that our anonymity is protected when contacting the local media.
Entertainment Chairperson arranges the dances/floor shows, and may hire a band, DJ or other performers. Sometimes local MA members provide entertainment by putting on plays about MA groups.
Hospitality Chairperson serves as the convention host; and will organize a committee that will greet out-of-town guests, arrange transportation for them when necessary, and see to any other needs they may have. Usually hospitality committee members wear special ID badges and are available to answer questions and provide assistance to attendees.
Literature Chairperson is responsible for displaying MA literature, and working with A New Leaf Publications to provide subscriptions to A New Leaf, “Life With Hope” books and service manuals.
PAYING THE BILLS
The host district(s) or groups agree to be responsible to pay the complete cost of the event, using seed money and monies collected through fundraising activities. A convention raffle and Convention tee shirts and merchandise are also great ideas for generating funds. Registration fees for the Convention can be set at a level sufficient to cover costs of meeting rooms, banquet hall(s), banquet meals, and entertainment. A good idea is to sell tickets well in advance of the convention.
Convention host district(s) or groups will need to acquire liability insurance in accordance with the guidelines of the venue where the Convention is held. Sometimes the venue itself can provide a liability insurance policy for a fee. Other times, the Convention host may need to “shop around” in the community for a liability policy using the limits the venue requires. MA World Services Inc shall be named as an Insured or Additional Insured on the liability policy.
It should be understood that Marijuana Anonymous does not provide liability insurance for individual meetings or events, whether they be considered Independent meetings or are part of a District. Such liability insurance, where required by the hosting facility, must be provided by the meeting or event as part of its self-supporting responsibilities.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CONVENTION?
Convention theme. A central theme or name of the Convention is helpful. Past
themes have been “Reaching Out Our Hands”, “Stepping Out of the Fog”, “Stepping Into the Light” “A Recovery Odyssey”, etc.
Main Features. Banquets, Speaker Meetings, Panels and Workshops are the main features of many Conventions. A 1995 Motion from the MAWS Conference states that “Speakers at the Convention to qualify as marijuana addicts.
Tradition Adherence. Proactively work to ensure that the Convention adheres to the 12 Traditions of MA from the planning stages to the completion of the Convention.
“Balance” and “Flow” are two key words in the planning of a convention program, particularly in setting up the panels, with one feature following another in a pleasant, logical series. For example, the first workshop may be on Steps 1-3, followed by a workshop on Steps 4-9, etc.
TIPS ON GOOD CONVENTION MANAGEMENT
Badges. Registration should flow smoothly so that attendees spend just a few minutes registering and picking up their badges.
Beverages. There should be plenty of coffee, tea and water for everyone.
Accessibility. Events should be in close proximity to overnight accommodations.
Hotel and Motel Registrations. Prices and accommodations should be clear on the registration forms. Allow enough time for early reservations by sending registration forms out in a timely manner. Don’t assume that all MA members will stay in medium or high-priced places. Include information on lower priced hotels and motels.
Don’t compete with last year. While it’s good to benefit from the experience of previous conventions, competition with yourself or others may lead to undue stress and unbalanced budgets.