Standing Rules

Proposed Standing Rules to be ratified at the Marijuana Anonymous World Services Conference 2023

Rule 1 – Purpose

The Conference is the guardian of the Traditions of Marijuana Anonymous (MA), the perpetuators of the world services of our Society, and the voice of the group conscience of our entire Fellowship.

Rule 2 – General Warranties of the Conference

In all its proceedings, the World Services Conference shall observe the spirit of the MA Traditions, taking care that the Conference never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds, plus an ample reserve, be its prudent financial principle; that none of the Conference Members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over any of the others; that all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that no Conference action ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy; that though the Conference may act for the service of MA, it shall never perform any acts of government; and that, like the Society of Marijuana Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain democratic in thought and action.

Rule 3 – Conference Relation to MA

The Conference will act for MA in the perpetuation and guidance of MA World Services and it will also be the vehicle by which MA can express its views upon all matters of vital MA policy and all deviations from our Traditions. Delegates, Trustees, and Service Committee Heads should be free to vote as their conscience dictates, and decide what questions should be taken to the group level for information, discussion, or their own direct instruction.  Any change in the General Warranties of the Conference (see Rule 2 above), the Twelve Traditions of MA, or the Twelve Steps of MA must be made with the written consent of three-quarters of the MA groups, as defined in the resolution adopted by the October, 1989 Conference.

Rule 3.1 Conference Attendees

A Conference attendee shall be any registered Trustee, the ANLP representative, Delegate, Participating Observer, or member volunteer. Passive observers of the Conference (those watching via a livestream, etc.) shall not be considered attendees.

Rule 4 – Voting Members

The Conference shall be open to all members of the Society and special workers. The voting members of the Conference (Members) are the Marijuana Anonymous World Services (MA World Services) Trustees, duly-elected Marijuana Anonymous (MA) Delegates, and the ANLP Chairperson or another ANLP Executive Director. Each MA District may elect two Delegates. Each Member has only one vote, no matter how many positions they may hold. Others (including observers) are not voting members. 

Members must be sober. Sobriety is defined as abstinence from marijuana and all mind altering substances, including alcohol.

Rule 5 – Quorum

A quorum is the minimum number of voting members required to be present to conduct business, and is established at the beginning of the Conference by taking a count of voting members. Two-thirds of this count shall determine the quorum.

If the Conference agenda includes adopting a new district, then that business shall take place immediately following the adoption of the Standing Rules (generally included in the Consent Agenda). If a new district is accepted during the course of business, the quorum shall be recounted to include their representative(s) as voting members, and thereafter shall not change during the length of the Conference if voting members leave.

A count of voting members shall be taken immediately following each scheduled break in the agenda to ensure a quorum is present. If the number of votes returned on any motion matches quorum exactly, the results of that vote must be unanimous to pass.

Rule 6 – Chairperson

The MA World Services Board President shall act as the Conference Chairperson (the Chair). If absent, the Secretary shall act as the Chair. The Chair has discretion to appoint any MA member as acting Chair.

A member who wishes to address the Conference body gets the attention of the Chair by raising a hand (electronically if the Conference is virtual), and waits until called upon. This is done in silence with two notable exceptions: Point of Order and Request for Information.

Rule 7 – Consent Agenda

A consent agenda may be presented by the Chair. A consent agenda groups the routine, procedural, informational, and self-explanatory non-controversial items typically found in an agenda (such as the Conference schedule, Standing Rules, and approval of previous years’ minutes). Items may be removed from the consent agenda on the request of any one member. Items not removed may be adopted by general consent without debate. Removed items shall be taken up immediately after the consent agenda is voted on and passed.

Rule 8 – Motions

Motions are formal proposals for action, put forth at the Conference by a Standing Committee or any Conference attendee. A motion must be seconded (unless offered by a Standing Committee), that is, endorsed for discussion by a member who is recognized by the Chair. If there is no second, the motion is not put before the Conference Body. If desired by the Chair, or any other member, any main motion or amendment thereto shall be presented in written form. 

Before the Chair states the question, the motion maker and the person who seconded the motion have the right to modify the motion at will, which includes accepting “friendly” amendments. The motion maker may also choose to withdraw it entirely. Once the Chair states the question it is now an active motion on the floor and as such belongs to the Conference Body. The motion maker, the original motion author, the person who seconded the motion, and the Conference Body can no longer make changes without a formal motion to amend. There may be only one main motion active, or “on the floor,” Read more about motions here.

Rule 9 – Stating the Question

A motion (“the question”) is required to be moved and seconded unless the Chair rules it out of order. The motion maker and the person who seconded the motion may accept  proposed “friendly” amendments. Immediately following friendly amendments, the Chair “states the question” that is before the Conference Body for its consideration and action. Motions that have been moved, seconded, and stated by the Chair are no longer the property of the maker, but of the Conference Body. Therefore, the motion maker no longer has the right to withdraw or change the motion.

If the text of a motion has been distributed to the members in advance and with sufficient time for careful reading, the motion need not be read in its entirety when moved or stated by the Chair.

Rule 10 – Amendments

Amendments are subsidiary motions that modify the wording, and often the meaning, of the main motion. Amendments should say exactly where in the main motion the change is to be made, and precisely what words to use.

To streamline the Conference process “friendly” amendments are allowed after a main motion is seconded and before the Chair states the question. “Friendly” amendments are given by someone trying to improve the motion and are typically in the spirit of the motion. Should the original motion maker and the person who seconded the motion not agree to the “friendly amendment” that is being suggested, the person proposing the “friendly” amendment can make an official motion to amend once the Chair has stated the question.

Official motions to amend are made after the Chair has stated the question and the main motion is on the floor. Amendments made and seconded are debated and voted upon (or accepted by unanimous consent) by the Conference Body before the vote on the main motion occurs.

Rule 11 – Debate

No Motion shall be debated until seconded, as required, and stated by the Chair. Debate is the discussion on the merits of a pending question to determine if the issue should be adopted or not. Debate shall be managed by the Chair in an impartial manner. Members may participate in debate only when they are recognized by the Chair. A member may only interrupt another member who has the floor to make a Motion to Recess or Adjourn, a Request for Information, a Point of Order, or to raise a Point of Privilege. The member making a Motion is entitled to speak first; Members who have not spoken on the issue shall be recognized ahead of those who have previously spoken. 

Debate on any main Motion, together with any amendments, shall be limited to forty-five (45) minutes, unless extended by a two-thirds vote. At the end of the forty-five minutes, the Main Motion (and its subsidiary motions) shall be postponed, referred to a committee, or moved to a vote, unless otherwise ruled by the Chair.

Debate shall begin with two (2) members in favor of and two (2) members opposed to the Motion. Each member may speak for two (2) minutes on each turn (three (3) minutes for those with English as a second language). Exceeding this time limit may result in the speaker being muted, unless given permission by the Chair to continue. A member may speak twice to a Motion, and twice to any subsidiary motion, on the same day, but the member may take their second turn only after everyone who wishes to speak for the first time has spoken. If debate on the Motion is continued on another day, the member’s right to debate is renewed. The Chair has discretion to solicit information from the Motion Maker to clarify specific questions raised in the debate.

Rule 12 – Previous Question

When recognized by the Chair, a member may offer a motion to close debate and require a vote on the pending Motion. The proper wording is, “I move the Previous Question.” A Previous Question cannot be moved until at least 4 speakers have been given the opportunity to speak (2 speakers in favor of and 2 speakers opposed to the Motion). A motion for a Previous Question must be seconded, is not debatable, and must be voted on immediately.

Rule 13 – Postponement of Motions

The following methods of postponing pending Motions are subsidiary motions that require proper recognition by the Chair, must be seconded, and require a vote of two-thirds to pass.

  1. A motion to Postpone to a Certain Time is debatable, and temporarily sets the Motion aside until the designated time.
  2. A motion to Postpone Indefinitely is debatable and removes the Motion for consideration for the remainder of the Conference.
  3. A motion to Refer to a Committee is debatable and may be used to facilitate informal discussion.
  4. A motion to Lay on the Table is not debatable, and sets the Motion aside in order to take up something else of immediate urgency. The original Motion remains set aside until a member moves to bring it back up for debate.

Rule 14 – Voting

When the Chair determines that the Conference Body is ready to vote, the Chair again states the exact question that is before the Conference Body.

Unanimous Consent—If it appears to the Chair that a motion or amendment is not controversial, it is proper for the Chair to ask if there is “any objection” to adopting the motion or amendment. If no objection is made, the Chair declares the motion or amendment adopted. If even one member objects, however, the motion or amendment is subject to debate and vote.

Votes—Voting is done by using Zoom Reactions. A green indicates “In Favor,” a red ✖ indicates “Opposed,” and a gray indicates “Abstain.” In the case of election of Trustees, a secret ballot is conducted via email. During voting, only the Chair, Meeting Manager(s), vote counter(s), and specifically designated volunteers may speak to the voting process. A Request for Information may be made only if seeking information to guide one’s vote.

Two-thirds of voting Members in favor is required for passage of any action. Since MA requires a two-thirds vote for a Motion to pass, to “Abstain” is the equivalent of an “Opposed” vote.

Rule 15 – Point of Order

If a member notices a breach of the rules of order that may do harm if ignored, the member gets the Chair’s attention by calling out, “Point of Order.” Without waiting for recognition, the member immediately addresses the rule violation. The Chair then rules on the Point of Order, briefly giving reasons. No second is necessary, and no vote is taken.

Rule 16 – Request for Information

A voting Member may, at any point, get the Chair’s attention by calling out, “Request for Information.” No second is necessary and no vote is taken as this is not related to parliamentary procedure. The Request for Information must be stated as a question and be vital such that not addressing the question would impede the Member’s ability to vote on the Motion. The Chair may rule a Request for Information out of order at their discretion. Request for Information is not used for the requestor to give information to the Conference Body but rather to gain information in order to cast a vote. 

Rule 17 – Parliamentary Authority

The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the Conference in all cases to which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with the Bylaws of MA World Services and these standing rules.

A concise guide to the rules is the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised in Brief [emphasis added]. This practical handbook will be used at the Conference.

Rule 18 – Election of Trustees using the Third Legacy Procedure

Trustees, also referred to as Directors, are elected using the ‘Third Legacy Procedure” to one (1) two year term, and are eligible for election to serve two (2) additional consecutive one year terms. No Trustee may serve more than four (4) years consecutively. Alternate Trustees, also referred to as Alternate Directors, are elected to a one-year term, as described below.

To qualify to serve as a Trustee or an Alternate, a member must have a minimum of two (2) years of continuous sobriety. Sobriety is defined as abstinence from marijuana and all mind-altering substances, including alcohol. A Trustee’s name may be placed on public records in the State of California, and therefore, Trustees and Alternates must be prepared to accept that their name may be revealed publicly.

A member must be present at the Conference to be elected Trustee. All qualified Conference attendees shall be eligible to be elected as Trustees or Alternates, subject to their right to withdraw their names from consideration, and provided they have substantially attended the Conference at which they are being considered.

a) Election Procedure

    1. The names of all persons who meet the Trustee requirements are placed on an eligibility list, subject to view by all members for the duration of the Conference. Names listed must be at least one (1) character different to differentiate between the eligible candidates.
    2. Candidates may strike their name from the list at any time.
    3. To vote, each voting Member selects names, exactly as listed, of their chosen candidates, from the current eligibility list, on a secret ballot.
    4. For each round of voting, voting Members must select the exact number of names as there are positions to be filled (i.e., if there are three Trustee positions available, Members must select the names of three candidates on their ballot). As positions are filled, the number of names required on each ballot will change.
    5. Errors made by voting Members regarding item numbers 3 or 4 above shall require that the vote be discarded, and a new vote taken.

b) Voting Process

    1. The first vote: Any candidate receiving two-thirds or more of the votes is elected. Note that this vote may result in no one being elected.
    2. The second vote (if required): Any candidate receiving two-thirds or more of the votes is elected. If all available positions are not filled, ‘automatic withdrawals’ begin. Generally, the names of candidates receiving one-fifth or fewer of the votes are removed from the eligibility list.
      • The number of candidates remaining on the list must be one (1) more than the number of positions still available. To satisfy this requirement, there may be cases where candidates who did not receive one-fifth of the votes remain on the list.
    3. The third vote (if required): Any candidate receiving two-thirds or more of the votes is elected. If all available positions are not filled, the names of candidates receiving one-third or fewer of the votes are removed from the eligibility list.
      • The number of candidates remaining must be one (1) more than the number of positions still available. To satisfy this requirement, there may be cases where candidates who did not receive one-third of the votes remain on the list.
    4. A fourth vote (if required): Any candidate receiving two-thirds or more of the votes is elected. If, at this point, positions remain unfilled, the names of candidates receiving one-third or fewer of the votes are removed from the eligibility list.
      • The number of candidates remaining must be one (1) more than the number of positions still available. To satisfy this requirement, there may be cases where candidates who did not receive one-third of votes remain on the list. At this point, the Chair entertains a motion to:

a.) stop balloting and draw remaining names from the hat; or

b.) conduct a fifth and final vote.

* If 4a.) above carries, the remaining names go into a hat and positions are filled in the order that the names are drawn. If 4b.) carries, a FINAL VOTE is taken. Any person receiving two-thirds or more of the votes is elected. If no election is made, remaining names go into the hat and positions are filled in the order that the names are drawn.


Rule 19 – Standing Committees

All registered attendees are required to participate in one or more Committees, except for the MA World Services President who is an ex-officio member of all Committees. Members are expected to continue their Committee participation throughout the following year. Trustees act as Chair for their specific committee at the annual Conference, or appoint a suitable chairperson, and oversee the committee’s responsibilities throughout the following year.