Operation Sweet Leaf raids boost marijuana regulation, says Mason Tvert

Thumbnail image for mason tvert photograph small.JPG
Mason Tvert.
To pot prohibition supporters, Operation Sweet Leaf, a raid on 25 reputed cannabis grows, paints the picture of growing criminality that begs for a police crackdown. But Mason Tvert, one of the main proponents of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which recently submitted about 160,000 signatures aimed at landing it on the November ballot, sees it as a tremendous waste that will boost the measure's odds of passage, not hinder them.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director Neill Franklin is among those observers who believe get-tough police moves like seizure letters sent to 23 dispensaries near schools by U.S. Attorney John Walsh are prompted in part by legalization efforts, with the goal being to associate weed with illicit narcotics that endanger our nation's children. But not Tvert. "I disagree entirely," he says. "This is activity that's been going on in this country for years now, regardless of whether or not there's a ballot initiative."

Tvert acknowledges that Walsh's letters "are unique. But when it comes to police spending time and resources investigating, arresting and prosecuting individuals for producing marijuana for profit, that's not unique, and it will continue until we take a new approach."

Whereas law enforcement agencies such as the 17th Judicial District DA's office and the North Metro Drug Task Force are portraying Operation Sweet Leaf as a tremendous success, Tvert believes that "this vast operation carried out by our state's law enforcement authorities demonstrates the futile nature of marijuana prohibition.

"This is not a blanket statement regarding all law enforcement, as you know from your interview with Neill Franklin and the views of countless law enforcement officials, both serving and retired, who agree with him," Tvert continues. However, "our opponents pretend to be opposed to cultivation for profit, but enforce policies guaranteed to produce just that outcome.

"In terms of their interest, many law enforcement officials, such as those with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, want to insure marijuana can only be produced underground, so that they can continue receiving and spending taxpayer money to go after it despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol" -- the mantra of Tvert's organization, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER).

Does that mean the publicity generated by the Operation Sweet Leaf bust will actually benefit the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act? Is it practically an advertisement in favor of such an initiative?

"Absolutely," Tvert replies. "We don't see police coordinating throughout the state to shut down a massive home alcohol-producing operation. And if we were to regulate marijuana like alcohol, we would no longer need to waste countless resources worrying about people growing marijuana for profit out of their homes."

The bottom line for Tvert: "Until we develop a more rational and responsible approach to marijuana in this state, our law enforcement officers will continue wasting time and resources. And this campaign is advocating for that new approach."

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana v. recreational use: NORML controversy, Colorado connection."

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Copatient
Copatient

It is time to make the voice of Colorado heard by the feds and state. A permit will be pulled for a  protest and or rally. Info will be posted for all to attend. We should be allowed to ship via USPS to other legal states. USPS wants money, then charge a extra a cannabis shipping fee or tax. IRS must make it so we can pay our additional income tax on cannabis with out fear.When in out history has IRS, USPS, and other local and state agencies work together to bust non violent citizens? This must end. Other state are watching us and we must do something. MMED must go. Stop using my tax money on cannabis raids in Colorado. PERIOD.

jway
jway

More than 200 million people consume alcohol in the U.S. - resulting in 75,000 unnecessary deaths each year and multiple adverse health consequences, including liver cirrhosis, cancers, unintentional injuries, and violence. Much of this misery could be prevented by giving alcohol users the right to substitute marijuana for alcohol. States that have passed medical marijuana laws have seen a 9% drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities because people in those states finally have the ability to switch from alcohol to marijuana. The lives of *many* more good, hardworking people could be saved by giving ALL people the right to choose to consume marijuana instead of alcohol.

Marijuana has repeatedly been proven to NOT cause cancer, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease, emphysema, or any other significant health issue, and its addiction potential is about on par with coffee. We have to ask ourselves if our country's current drug laws are protecting people from pot or driving them to drink. We mustn't wait until a loved one has been harmed by alcohol before demanding that our legislators legalize adult marijuana sales!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

All I want to do is plant a seed and watch it grow.  I don't need your approval and I certainly don't need any of your God Damn regulations.  Let's get rid of the CDPHE, MMED, MMJ Centers, DEA, MIP's, RFID"S, 1284, 1043, 109, let's get rid of the activists and finally finally there may just be a glimmering hope that cannabis will feel legal once again!  Legalize it and quit criticizing it!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

We are not going to get rid of the State health agency, nor are we going to sweep away all laws criminalizing cannabis.  There are many people in Colorado who grow cannabis for personal use -- we should act to save them from criminal sanctions.  As for you and yours, I will continue to support your interests too.

Mark M.
Mark M.

More hypocrisy! There is nothing in Init. 30 that says to regulate marijuana like alcohol. At which liquor store can I only buy one ounce of vodka??? Init. 30 will regulate marijuana like *medical marijuana*, with the same seed to sale to jail tracking system and over-regulation by the DOR pot clowns. The Init. 30 backers love to call it "legalization" in public, but lobbied successfully to have that word removed from the ballot title because they said it would be "legally inaccurate". Stop trying to deceive voters! Init. 30 will create a funding source for more pot clowns to shut down the "illegal" pot consumers, ie, the ones who have more than one ounce and the ones who refuse to buy into the government sponsored pot program. Init. 30 creates "good" pot smokers who will fund the police to put the "bad" pot smokers in jail, the same FAILED situation we have with medical marijuana in the state. Init. 30 is not an end to prohibition or legalization, it is a cop's dream, to have the authority AND the funding to go after more pot smokers. Until groups like SAFER come out in favor of LEGALIZATION FOR ALL and stop trying to fund the cops, they will always be seen as hypocrites.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

It's idiotic to suggest that marijuana -- which proponents claim is essentially harmless and never killed anyone -- be government regulated like alcohol which harms and destroys millions of lives and kills 10s of thousands of people every year!

*** Regulate Marijuana Like Oregano !! ***

Dennis Lehnst
Dennis Lehnst

marijuana alters ones perception of time, events. Oregano doesn't.  Although much safer than booze I would still not be comfortable with a free for all.  Marijuana needs to be kept away from the kids just like alcohol and regulated like booze.  I can make my own beer, make my own whiskey (in limited amounts), make my own wine.  The same should apply to pot.  Throwing our kids in jail will never make us a drug free America.  No knock entrances into our homes is so over the top and passe and has only served to alienate vast generations of young Americans.  Our federal government has the credibility of hooker.  Pay her enough and she will say and do anything you want her to... for 70+ years!  Enough is enough! In the internet age, we now know the truth.

Mark Slaugh
Mark Slaugh

Nutmeg can also be mind altering, and deadly - unlike cannabis. Just sayin..

jway
jway

Hear, hear! (Or to use the modern vernacular, "This!")

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Good morning Hotay, glad to have you on the scene as always.  Welcome to the greatest pot show on earth.  There are clowns, this is a circus, there are rules and regulations and activists, but above all is cannabis which there will always beeeeee!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Good morning Hotay, glad to have you on the scene as always.  Welcome to the greatest pot show on earth.  There are clowns, this is a circus, there are rules and regulations and activists, but above all is cannabis which there will always beeeeee!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Step back from that formulaic and overheated rhetoric, read the post, and deal with facts.  20% of Coloradans use cannabis, and we are in no position to eliminate all the unjust laws pertaining to it.  It is true that these defendants would not directly benefit from passage of the Initiative, but it would reduce criminal liability for cannabis in Colorado overall -- that does not mean that we would forget these and other victims of the criminal injustice system!  Allow people to grow cannabis for personal use -- that is a step towards legalizing cannabis generally, and we need progress!  The spectacle of people who use cannabis earnestly trying to keep cannabis completely illegal because we cannot prevent all arrests and free all prisoners now, while some of us work to pry one of the bars free is disgusting.  Initiative 30 would result in fewer people going to jail, so I support it despite its flaws.

The disconnection of your rhetoric from reality is exemplified by such phraseology as "legalization for all" -- you do not urge a practical political program at all.  Many people who do not use cannabis will have to support any change for the better.  I have done more than many to fight Prohibition, and it is disheartening to see some of the other radicals committed to legalization continue to behave and speak as thought the 80% of voters who do not use cannabis simply do not exist.  Make an affirmative proposal that takes into account the majority of voters and their beliefs, or continue to spout political irrelevancy.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Walsh's threats are not unique; they are almost identical to those sent by Melinda Haag to dispensaries in California!  As for the waste of taxpayers' money represented by these raids, no, that is not unique, but saying so suggests merely that others have occurred, not that they are a commonplace, as is the case -- confusion over the meaning of "unique" reigns.

Excuse my semantic rant -- the rest of what Mason said makes good sense.  He does not gloat over these arrests, unlike some people in the medical-cannabis business -- they would be well advised to keep silent, unless it is their intention to exacerbate the divisions within the community of cannabis-users.  Medical cannabis is still too expensive for many people to buy, and statements from people profitting in the business that the victims of the North Metro Drug Task Force in any way deserve their fate are odious in the extreme.

Initiative 30 was written in part to curry favor with the industry -- how much have they contributed to the campaign, Mason?

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