Mason Tvert touts marijuana-is-better-than-alcohol rallies at eighty-plus colleges nationwide

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Mason Tvert prefers Emerald to Amethyst.
For indefatigable marijuana booster Mason Tvert, founder of the advocacy organization Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), April 1 is a very big day. Rallies are scheduled to take place at more than eighty colleges and universities across the country (see the complete list below) arguing that students who use marijuana are far safer than those who opt for alcohol.

Meanwhile, at 1 p.m. today, Tvert will join a group at the Auraria campus targeting Stephen Jordan, president of Metropolitan State College. Jordan is a supporter of the Amethyst Initiative, which argues that lowering the legal drinking age to eighteen would help reduce the culture of binge drinking on campuses.

"We feel that if he's comfortable opening up the discussion about lowering the drinking age, there's no logical reason why he shouldn't have a discussion about using marijuana more freely," Tvert says.

How did Tvert choose today for pro-marijuana demonstrations?

"April is National Alcohol Awareness month," he says. "Obviously, April 1 is the first day of that month, but it's also April Fool's Day -- and the message a lot of students will be sending is that this is not a joke.

"We're talking about allowing college students to use marijuana as a safer recreational alternative to alcohol. Now, some might scoff at that idea. But this is an issue that involves student safety. It's literally a matter of life and death in some cases. The fact is, for college students and everyone else, for that matter, using marijuana is safer than using alcohol."

SAFER's college initiatives have grown like a certain weed in a few short years.

"We started in 2005 simply trying to organize students at CU and CSU," he notes. "Then, in 2007, we coordinated a day of action that involved just over fifty campuses -- a lot fewer than are participating this year. And we've passed student referendum measures at more than a dozen college campuses nationwide. CU-Boulder and CSU were the first two, and since then, we've added the University of Maryland, Florida State University, the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State, Purdue. The referendum has passed at five of the fifteen larges colleges in the nation."

Tvert believe these measures aren't just popular; they're good policy. In his words, "Who knows better how to reduce student drinking? Gray-haired administrators or college students, who know that when they go out, students using marijuana are far safer than students using alcohol."

At the Auraria news conference today, Tvert will be "highlighting the current state of campus policies and laws, which steer students away from marijuana and toward drinking" -- with Jordan as the focal point.

In response to the Amethyst Initiative, Tvert created the Emerald Initiative, which calls for signatories to support constructive debate about the relative safety of marijuana use versus alcohol consumption. Then, he sent copies to Jordan's office, and Jordan personally, along with a letter explaining the concept. But, he says, "they ultimately responded that they weren't interested in endorsing it."

To Tvert, this stand is inexplicable, particularly in light of Jordan's Amethyst advocacy.

"This isn't an endorsement of marijuana," he stresses. "It's an endorsement of having an open and dispassionate debate about whether this could be a solution to alcohol-related problems on campuses."

Hence, today's festivities will include a trip to Jordan's office, at which Tvert and his supporters will hand-deliver the initiative, as well as a copy of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?, written by -- you guessed it -- Tvert. While they, he adds, "we'll try to find out why these college administrators will do everything from encouraging students to drink responsibly to lowering the drinking age, but they won't even stop to consider providing college students with a safer recreational alternative that would likely reduce drinking even more."

Page down to see details about the Auraria event, a list of participating college and the text of the Emerald Initiative.

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