I-100 Author Smokes Foes

I-100 Author Smokes Foes
Posted by CN Staff on November 03, 2005 at 14:33:31 PT
By Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News
Source: Rocky Mountain News
Denver, Colorado -- It's not even noon and Mason Tvert already has hit seven television and five radio news shows in his post-election victory lap as the architect behind an effort to make Denver the first U.S. city to legalize adult marijuana possession. Tvert has drawn international coverage by turning the tables on the drug war.
He calls marijuana the "safer alternative" for society and criticizes the "hypocrisy" of elected officials who condemn pot while condoning alcohol use, despite studies showing that alcohol fuels deadly violence, car wrecks and abuse. He even hounded Denver's super-popular, brewpub-owning mayor, John Hickenlooper, to debate - a challenge the mayor ignored. "I've gotten calls from as far as Australia and Germany," Tvert said Wednesday after wrapping an appearance on a national Fox News morning show. Not bad for a 23-year-old kid who just graduated last year from the University of Richmond, in Virginia. The burly 6-footer defies the sleepy-eyed stoner stereotype. He's a hyper political junkie in a dark pinstriped suit who sticks like glue to his talking points while juggling nonstop interviews on two ever-buzzing cell phones. For the record, the Phoenix native refuses to say if he smokes pot. "That's like asking a pro-choice person if they've had an abortion," he said. Besides, he added, admitting smoking a drug that's still illegal under state and federal law would be "self-incriminating." Indeed, Denver law enforcement officials and city leaders warn that amending local law will change nothing because possession busts will continue to be prosecuted under state law. "It is still illegal to possess less than an ounce of marijuana anywhere in the state, and that includes Denver," Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said in a statement Wednesday. Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is a petty offense and punishable by a fine. Tvert accuses Denver officials of "defying the will of the voters" if they ignore the 7 percentage-point victory Tuesday for the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative. "We're going to be encouraging folks who do get cited under state law to take their cases to court," he said. "And we will show just how damaging and how many problems it causes to keep citing nonviolent marijuana offenders who would otherwise be law-abiding citizens." What's next for the Johnny Appleseed of weed? He vows to take the pot-beats-booze crusade to other Colorado communities, although he won't name any yet. "This is something that is going to spread across the country because people are starting to open their eyes to look beyond 70 years of marijuana prohibition propaganda," he said. After graduating from college in 2004, Tvert started the fight as a foot soldier for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. He campaigned against Arizona congressional candidates who "think it's OK to send sick and dying people to jail for using" medical marijuana prescribed by their doctor. In January, he moved to Boulder and created the nonprofit Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, whose three-person board includes himself and current and former members of the Marijuana Policy Project. After the University of Colorado and Colorado State University were rocked by student deaths from binge-drinking, Tvert engineered successful nonbinding student elections last spring urging university officials to make sanctions for marijuana no more severe than those for comparable alcohol violations. In June, he moved into a south Denver townhouse and launched the Initiative 100 campaign, driven by 200 volunteers and funded by $32,000 in individual contributions, in-kind donations from his nonprofit group and independent billboard funding from a national marijuana-reform group. Tvert's aggressive campaign drew harsh criticism - and lots of news coverage. City Councilman Charlie Brown blasted SAFER for "deceiving" voters with lawn signs urging them to "Make Denver SAFER," which he said could have fooled people into thinking I-100 was an anti-crime initiative to boost police staffing. A backlash by domestic violence groups also forced SAFER to cancel a billboard showing a battered woman with the slogan: "Reduce family and community violence in Denver" - without mentioning marijuana. Undaunted, Tvert kept buttressing his arguments with studies underscoring alcohol's societal harm and even quoting former drug czar Barry McCaffrey, who said, "The most dangerous drug in America today is still alcohol." Tvert dismisses suggestions that he's an out-of-state "carpetbagger." "I'm really enjoying Denver, so I'm planning on staying around here for a long time," he said. Note: 23-year-old turns tables on drug war with Denver victory.Mason Tvert  Age: 23  Birthplace: Phoenix  Pets: "I used to have a guinea pig."  Favorite book: Les Miserables  Favorite movie: True Romance  Web site: Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)Author:  Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News Published: November 3, 2005Copyright: 2005 Denver Publishing Co.Contact: letters rockymountainnews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Safer Choice Is First City To Legalize Pot Voters, Issue was Freedom of Choice Issue Gives New Meaning To Mile High City 
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on November 04, 2005 at 09:14:48 PT
Mason Tvert
This Mason Tvert kid is really sharp. I like him.
What he has accomplished is very impressive.
What a great force of energy to have working for this cause.Mason, if you happen to read CNews, congratulations and sincere thanks for your stellar work! You are proving to be a profound change agent. Keep up the good work!
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Comment #2 posted by Jim Lunsford on November 03, 2005 at 15:29:29 PT
It's the timing, stupid!
That's one reason I am so excited about this expression of the people's choice to control their own lives. The day after the Supreme Court heard the arguments on the use of drugs in religion. Justices always ask questions which force the sides which are weighed in the public and political courts for the reaction to their questions. Especially in high profile cases.For example, in the Raisch case, the government was forced to define medicine as pure, refined, and synthetic. This was not an accidental wording. The Supreme Court obeys the will of the people, as long as the Congress is weak enough to submit to the Court's rulings. In this case, so many variables have changed since just June. More attention has been paid to the medical potential for Cannabis, the nutritive qualities of hemp, etc. And also the campaign finance reform has broken some very serious corporate bonds in our political system. Not to mention, an embattled and weakened Republican Party. The Democrats would be insane to contribute to an over-turning of any Supreme Court ruling on the validity of the Drug laws versus Religious freedom. In short, Happy Days are here again, the skies are blue, la la, la la.... Happy Days are here again!Rev Jim LunsfordFirst Cannabist ChurchPenal System: How one may judge a society. 
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Comment #1 posted by global_warming on November 03, 2005 at 15:22:50 PT
Thank You Mason
"Tvert has drawn international coverage by turning the tables on the drug war.He calls marijuana the "safer alternative" for society and criticizes the "hypocrisy" of elected officials who condemn pot while condoning alcohol use, despite studies showing that alcohol fuels deadly violence, car wrecks and abuse.."Did they say International?
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