Marijuana: Amendment 64's Mason Tvert on Bill Maher's invite, advocate advice
During a recent appearance on his HBO discussion show, Bill Maher asked Mason Tvert, one of the primary proponents behind Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, to relocate in California and push through a similar measure there -- and Tvert lightheartedly said he would; see the video below. Days later, however, Tvert tells us he has no plans to move west or barnstorm the country to boost legalization efforts in other states.
"There has been discussion among activists and organizations for the past couple of years about how best to move forward in California," says Tvert, referring to the 2010 defeat of Proposition 19, arguably the most high-profile statewide legalization proposal prior to Amendment 64. "But there's no specific plan, and I have no intention of moving."
Has Tvert been bombarded by calls from pot reformers in other states since A64's resounding victory? "You're giving me way too much credit," Tvert says. He acknowledges that he's received a steady stream of outreach on the topic in the week-plus since the election, but "not any more than I have every month for the past seven years" -- when his organization, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), backed the Alcohol Marijuana-Equalization Initiative, aka Initiative 100, in Denver. The measure was approved by the city's voters by a 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent margin in November 2005, instantly making Tvert a star of the U.S.cannabis legalization movement.
Courtesy of Cannabis Therapy Institute Mason Tvert and fellow Amendment 64 proponent Brian Vicente at a hearing earlier this year.
But while Tvert notes that "local activists have been getting in touch to find out what they can do in their areas and how they can be most effective," he makes it clear that he hasn't created a blueprint for electoral success that can be easily replicated everywhere.
"I don't know if your'e talking about franchising a campaign -- but that's like saying Barack Obama is going to franchise his campaign to other presidential candidates," he says. "A lot of people who worked on this campaign have valuable insights that would be beneficial in future campaigns," but he doesn't believe they can't be boiled down to a formula.
A key Amendment 64 campaign theme involved the argument in favor of reallocating police and prosecutorial resources from marijuana offenses to more serious, violent crimes. But Tvert doesn't consider it to be a fresh new tactic.
"That's been said for the last thirty or forty years," he points out. "So I wouldn't see that as any kind of unique campaign strategy."
In his view, then, the key to Amendment 64's passage was the message he's preached since Initiative 100 -- marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.
Continue to read more of our interview with Mason Tvert.