How the MS Society used twitter to engage MPs and ask them to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes

The MS Society has a vision of a world free from the effects of MS. Their ultimate goal is to find a cure. Until then, they are working to make sure no one has to face MS alone. Effective treatments can help people take better control of their MS and live the lives they want.

It is estimated there are over 130,000 people with MS in the UK, and that nearly 7,000 people are newly diagnosed each year. This means that around one in every 500 people in the UK has MS, and that each week 130 people are diagnosed with MS.

The problem

Pain and muscle spasms can be exhausting and difficult to manage and evidence shows cannabis for medicinal use can help relieve these symptoms.

The MS Society consulted with people with MS, spoke to medical professionals and reviewed the evidence and as a result, in July 2017, they became the first national charity to say that cannabis for medicinal use should be legal.

When an opportunity came up in Parliament, they wanted to react and encourage their community to take action.

The solution

The MS Society wanted to raise public awareness in a new, bold and exciting way.

  • They created a journey that encouraged people on social media to tweet their MP. They also developed an “Email your MP” action that could be promoted to their email subscribers.
  • They tweeted announcing their new policy position and calling on people to join them and take action.
  • They then met with MPs, got individual stories in the spotlight and when the UK Government announced a review of cannabis for medicinal use, they worked with neurologists, MPs and celebrities to send an open letter to the Home Secretary to ensure MS was in the review.
MS Society Tweet your MP

The results

  • The MS Society “Tweet your MP” Tweet announcing the new policy position was the most retweeted Tweet in 2017 (250 retweets, 290 likes).
  • Facebook reached 130,000 people, had more than 120 comments, over 4,400 likes and 1,100 shares.
  • 1,970 emails and 729 tweets were sent to MPs.
  • On 1 November 2018, cannabis-derived products for medicinal use were rescheduled, making it legal for specialists to prescribe cannabis-based treatments.

A big thank you

At Engaging Networks, we’re proud to work with great charities like MS Society who campaign at all levels, fund ground-breaking research and provide award winning support and information. To learn more about this great cause visit their website.

This case study was originally presented at ENCC UK 2019. The full slides used in the presentation can be downloaded here.

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