MAWPM Suggestions for Chairpersons

This document was co-authored by a working group. If you have suggestions please contact agenda-mawpm@ma-phone.org.


Each group, in fact each meeting, has its own culture that should be supportable within the boundaries of the Twelve Traditions whether the format is phone-based, Internet text-based, or in-person geographically located. That is to say they each have their own set of norms, mores, taboos and behavioral habits.

Please note that the suggestions below apply only to the Marijuana Anonymous World Phone Meetings group (MAWPM, pronounced maw-pum) with  a goal to apply to all of the meetings of the MAWPM group, but with the understanding that over time (for instance) the Friday night meeting will operate slightly different from Wednesday at noon. That is to say, for the MAWPM groups, what are listed below are suggested behaviors and guides for conducting MAWPM group meetings.

Suggested Behaviors

  • BE AWARE: We have had some malcontents have been abusing our phone line so chairpersons should be familiar with “Q&A mode.” It is explained further in Touch Tone Tips. Briefly use these keystrokes to manage the call:
    • *5 to 
      • first time mute all lines, callers use *6 individually unmute
      • second time will mute all lines and individual callers CANNOT unmute
      • third time will unmute all the lines
    • *6 mute / *6 un-mute
    • *01 enter Q&A; *02 next in queue; *03 exit Q&A
      • callers use *6,1 to join the queue (get in line).
    • For more info please read Touch Tone Tips
  • Please remember that there are many MAWPM meetings per week, thus when you chair please try to give as much sharing time as possible to the other participants and save your sharing for another meeting or go last. During a long pause at any time then feel free to share, and remember just a suggestion.
  • After each person shares thank them and resist the urge to comment on their share. However, special situations call for brief consolation such as when a person mentions a death or something similarly traumatic, but keep it brief.
  • If the sharing pauses, remind people of the topic, remind them to use *6 to un-mute their phone. Feel free to let the pause to linger for a bit before encouragement. It is a judgement call.
  • Adhere to the timing of shares requirements. Be sure to require the one minute acknowledgement.
  • From time to time the chair can use *2 to get a participant count that may be shared between shares. It is best to plan for the *2 and do it right when a person starts to share.
  • Note that as the chair of the meeting you are the captain of the ship thus can make a change at will should the situation call for it. Situations like this might be:
    • A new person cross-talks inappropriately
    • A new person starts sharing when only a request for topic is asked for
    • ? other behaviors that are “on the line” ? ? ?
    • Note, when the new person (or long-timer) is done sharing consider if best to gently and kindly suggest the appropriate behavior as soon as they finish, or wait and attempt to mentor them after the meeting. If possible, as soon as possible, but gentleness and kindness supersede timing.
  • For the reading of the 12’s, (Questions, Steps, Promises, Traditions, Principles, Concepts for Service), generally at the start of a meeting only read one or two. Save the others to fill in if no one is sharing for unbearable length of time.
  • Please strive to be on the line five minutes before the meeting starts. Every 30 seconds or so mention that the meeting is going to start at the top of the hour. You can also mention the topic and encourage people to volunteer for reading.
  • Please allocation 15 minutes after the meeting. This is a suggestion and you can always hand off to someone else.
  • If a participant has an un-muted line creating disruptive background noise AND you are unable to get the individual’s attention you may need to mute all lines by using *5.
    • *5 (Star five) can be thought of like a three position switch on a table lamp where you must cycle  through all three positions
    • Default, when the meeting starts: all lines open. Ask people to use *6 to individually mute their line
    • *5 the first time pressed by the admin: mutes all lines and allows individuals to un-mute their line with *6
    • *5 the second time pressed by the admin: mutes all lines and DOES NOT allow individuals to un-mute
    • pressing *5 a 3rd time returns to default, all lines un-muted
    • note that if there are two or more admins on the line and both are pressing *5 it will be confusing for everyone
  • If you are scheduled to chair a meeting please login with the admin code. HOWEVER, if you are not the scheduled chairperson please use the participant code.
  • If you are not scheduled and there is unmanaged background noise, check the line with *2 to determine if there is no admin on the line you may need to disconnect and reconnect to fix the situation. This would be a last resort.
  • Sometimes you may need to remind people that when they are sharing, especially if they are using “speaker” mode on their phone, they need to not generate background noise. They can clean house or do the dishes when they are listening on mute, but when they share they must be still.
  • Remember that we have new people almost every day and these people are likely confused by the muting procedure, the multiple phone lines etc, so please be patient.
  • If you are the chairperson of a topic discussion meeting, try to have a topic or two MA approved literature in case the line is quiet and you need to do a reading.
  • It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with all MA approved literature, including pamphlets, prayers and our publication, A New Leaf. These can be valuable sources of topic inspiration or things to read to the group if the line is silent for a uncomfortable length of time.
  • When asking for topics from the group, or when there is silence on the line, the chair may say “Newcomers feel free to share on whatever is going on with your recovery today”.
  • It is suggested that each chairperson build there own network of qualified chairpersons that they can call on for back in case they are unable to chair a meeting they are scheduled for. Start with one or two buy strive to build to at least ten.
  • Make an effort to attend GC meetings but if unable, read the minutes to stay current with business decisions/discussions.

These are suggestions. They are not written in stone. The goal is recovery for everyone, chairperson and participants both.