Marijuana legalization: Mason Tvert touts initiative process openness, seeks more input

Mason Tvert.
The filing of eight 2012 marijuana legalization initiatives by a group led by Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert has come in for criticism from Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho, who accuses organizers of ignoring local activists.

But Tvert says nothing could be further from the truth.

"This is the very first step of a long process," Tvert notes. "We started early so we would have the opportunity to go through the review-and-comment hearing. But we continue to speak with the community, and we have the opportunity to change aspects of the initiative, so that we can emerge with the best initiative possible.

"There's a misconception that these are eight entirely different initiatives," he goes on. "But there's often only one sentence that's changed. We're testing things right now to see if they'll be the best route to go in terms of initiative language." For example, "one includes hemp and one doesn't include hemp. We think hemp could and should be included, but it's possible the board will think it's a single-subject violation" -- the single-subject rule precludes multiple topics from being combined in the same measure. "And since we want to make sure we get on the 2012 ballot, we filed both, so we will have a backup."

Tvert and company took the same tack when it comes to language that might trigger the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, aka the TABOR amendment, the target of a lawsuit filed this week by 34 prominent plaintiffs. And he adds that "we're continuing to hone the language, so that we can make it the best we can possibly have."

Far from ignoring Colorado marijuana-scene stakeholders, Tvert stresses that "we posted advertisements publicly and sent out e-mail blasts asking for comments -- and we took these comments into significant consideration. We also met with organizations that represent tens of thousands of Coloradans -- industry folks and other leaders within the community. And we still hope we can all work together toward the best possible initiative."

Indeed, Tvert says that if the Cannabis Therapy Institute, which backs the separate Legalize2012.com campaign, or any other group "creates an initiative that seems better and more viable and ends up getting on the ballot, we would certainly consider supporting it."

The bottom line, in his view, is earning the right to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2012 ballot. "It's critical," he maintains, "because otherwise, we would have to wait until 2016" under the theory that more young people and progressive voters apt to favor legalization tend to vote in presidential elections.

He adds that "we continue to go to great extremes to communicate with the public, so we can make sure we have the best initiative moving forward."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Mile High Kush Expo report: more schwag than dank (PHOTOS)."

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14 comments
anonymouse
anonymouse

That's an interesting read on 1284, Robert.  You might be right!  Of course, a city could always overturn their ban after July 1 but 1284 doesn't appear to allow a new ban to go into effect.

Robert
Robert

My sympathies -- I know a little about the shenanigans in Larimer County.  I brought a witness up from Denver to the trial of Frank Marzano (though Pot Nazi Judge Kaup wasn't about to let him testify) and Tim Tipton and I testified against the County's ban before your County Commission.  Not that any governmental body or official in Colorado feels bound or constrained in any way by our laws, but any ban on dispensaries must be enacted by July 1 of this year -- someone might point out to the gang of prohibitionists up there that Ft. Collins cannot vote to ban dispensaries in November under the terms of HB10-1284.

GetReal
GetReal

Mason, here's my input:

If I can buy beer by the keg and liquor by the case, then I should be allowed instead to buy the safer substance by the pound.

If I am allowed to have unlimited amounts of alcohol in my home, then I should be allowed to have unlimited amounts of the safer substance in my home instead.

I'm simply looking for the same limitations on cannabis that exist for alcohol which kills people daily.  It makes no sense to have the safer substance under the strict control that exists today while drunks are out there harming and killing others.  Stoners don't so that silly shit.

Bill
Bill

The reality is that the first laws in states legalizing marijuana will be more symbolic than anything else.  They'll legalize small scale production and possession for consumers, but we won't see a big legal marijuana industry pop up for years, because it's still against federal law.  The feds are likely to crack down on producers and will certainly try to bully state governments like they are doing now with medical marijuana.  Support for legalization keeps growing though.  Within a few years the majority of American voters will be in favor of regulating pot like we regulate alcohol, and the feds will eventually give in.

If there are no shops, people are going to buy their pot from the black market, or grow their own.  Most won't grow their own though because it's too much trouble.  If it was so easy medical pot dispensaries wouldn't be doing such a thriving business selling super expensive pot to people allowed to grow their own.  So, there's going to be a big black market for a while anyway until the feds open things up for a real regulated marijuana industry.  The limits people will want to so the laws aren't shielding drug dealers (unlicensed) and to reduce the possibility that all sorts of Colorado pot is making it into neighboring states where it is not legal. 

When the feds finally do allow for an honest to goodness legal pot industry, the need for the limits will evaporate, as will the limits eventually. They'll disappear or be greatly expanded. 

And really, how many people buy their pot by the ounce?  The majority buy quarter ounces, eighths or even grams.  An ounce is actually a lot for one person. 

To begin with pot will be regulated more than alcohol.  The laws will be more restrictive.  That's just a fact of life.  We're just now finally getting to the point to where there might be enough support to get marijuana legalized in a couple of states.  There might be enough, but there is also a very good likelihood that any initiative wouldn't get enough votes, no matter what the thing says or how it sets up the laws.  There just isn't a lot of support, especially among older voters who tend to show up at the polls in greater numbers than the younger voters who more often than not are for legalization. Couple that with this infighting, and there is a good chance none of these legalization initiatives in the various states will pass in 2012.

The feds have to open things up.  Legalizing pot in a few states would really heat things up in the debate. I have no doubt that pot will eventually be legalized, but I think we're going to have to get it legalized in a few states before the federal government capitulates.  I don't think 1% of federal law makers will go on record as supporting legalization, but of course we can look at drug use statistics and legalization polls with demographioc breakdowns and see that the statistical likelihood is that most lawmakers under 65 have smoked pot, and quite probably somewhere close to half believe in their heart of hearts that it should be legal.  More than half of all American adults under 65 have smoked pot. Our federal law makers are mostly white males with at least some college, which makes them all the more likely to have smoked pot and be for legalization, if they are anything like everyone else in their demographic categories.  When we start seeing some states legalize and public support for legalization in the polls consistently topping 50%, a lot of these lawmakers are going to come around and start pushing for legalization.  (with high taxes of course)  

The substance of these initial legalization laws doesn't really matter that much. They'll be changed over time.  The key is getting legalization initiatives to pass.  The sooner we do that, the sooner the feds will open things up for a genuine legal marijuana industry.  After that happens, the laws will change. The Anheuser-Busch of buds won't want a one ounce limit.  They'll push for that to be changed.  The people will recognize that with pot being sold like alcohol and the black market largely gone, there won't be a need for such restrictive limits, and the laws will change.  But we'll never get it legalized in the first place without all kinds of "safeguards" in place to relieve some of the anxiety about legalization by those opposed and those on the fence.  Later people will realize that legalization didn't make the sky fall in, that everything is okay, and that a lot of the excessive restrictions need to be lifted.

Robert
Robert

Thanks -- we are experiencing a crisis in the movement:  while most of our base knows nothing about civics; politics; or history, many think cannabis is already legal, and most don't give a damn as long as they've got some, some people think that we are on the cusp of victory.  Having right on our side, facts, and eloquence does not translate into political strength however, as the miserable election results in Denver confirm.  How can these optimists reconcile crushing electoral defeats with their belief that most Coloradans are champing at the bit to fully legalize?  I expect that the legalization initiative of 2012 will offer an incremental (not merely symbolic) improvement in the legal climate, but you are absolutely correct that Colorado cannot overturn Prohibition by itself.  May the initiative accomplish as much as it can and still be passed.

Robert
Robert

All of us agree on your list of "shoulds"; the question before us is what would the voters accept?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks, ColoradoShu, for the post, which we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.

Robert
Robert

The counterevolution against our constitutional right to use cannabis as medicine is distinct from the issue of legalization.  The prohibitionists were greatly aided by the unconstitutional abrogation of caregivers' rights, and their exclusion from dispensaries, which not only prevented political money from defending the depredations against Article XVIII, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution, but also systematically prepared to give over the entire dispensary system and everyone involved in it to Federal criminal and civil liability -- the General Assembly's marijuana distribution system is untenable.  Caregiving itself must now be an underground activity, because the State has in effect contradicted the Constitution, and no one will stop the scofflaws who hold the reins of power.

As to the infighting, it is inevitable, especially in light of the national coalition's arrogance and the lack of trust between them and grassroots activists, but I believe that voters will have a clear choice to reform our irrational and destructive laws on cannabis in 2012.

Robert
Robert

Right, Mason -- when I complained about the failure to include grassroots activists in the drafting, you claimed that I had not submitted any suggestions; when I then provided my receipt for those I had submitted months before, you fell back on insisting that all had been given due consideration.  The point is that you excluded people who have been doing more work on reform (without compensation) than you and Brian from drafting the initiative:  you asked for general comments on legalization, did not respond to those comments, drafted your own initiatives in secrecy, filed them with the Secretary of State, and even then would not discuss them with me!  As far as I am concerned, you have made an absolute mockery of any notion that you seek collaboration.

dTownMMJ
dTownMMJ

Maybe it's not that they didn't want to collaborate, but just that they didn't want to collaborate with you.

Robert
Robert

Brian invited me to meet with him and Brian to discuss the legalization initiative and working together -- what don't you get?

Robert
Robert

excuse me -- Brian invited me to meet with him and Mason to discuss the legalization initiative and working together -- what don't you get?

Kwame
Kwame

That sound like a personal issue bro ... You probably have bigger fish to fry, I imagine. 

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

I look forward to seeing Mason and everyone else at the constitutional debates so we can debate the language and proposals like the signatories of the original constitution.

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