Marijuana: Project SAM, anti-legalization group, launches Colorado chapter, Mason Tvert attacks
Tvert, a key proponent of Amendment 64 and now a spokesman with the Marijuana Policy Project, held his counter-press conference one hour before Kennedy arrived at the Denver Press Club.
Outside -- noting that he would not be allowed in, since he's not a credentialed member of the media -- Tvert told a gaggle of reporters that the goals of Project SAM are not based on fact and unnecessarily slam adult marijuana use, which is proven to be a safer choice to alcohol.
Sam Levin Mason Tvert outside the Denver Press Club
"When it comes to adults, marijuana users are no more in need of forced public health interventions and education than regular consumers of alcohol, Advil, Starbucks or McDonald's," he said, later adding, "When you compare the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol, the less rational, less healthy and potentially more dangerous decision is the choice to use alcohol."
He continued, "Clearly, this group does not respect the facts."
While Project SAM is branding itself as a national effort, Tvert said he is worried about the influence the initiative could have in Colorado.
"I'm certainly concerned that they'll meddle in this process," he said. "I certainly hope...[the group] does not violate or disrespect the will of the voters.... They chose to launch their national organization here."
In general, Tvert said he was worried about efforts that focus on unproductive treatment and criminalization.
"It's costly. It's not necessary and it sends a terrible message," he said, arguing that debates around marijuana cannot be boiled down to "prison or legalization."
He also rejects arguments that regardless of alcohol comparisons, there's no reason to legalize marijuana.
"Why do they want to steer them to a more harmful product?" he said. "The people of Colorado are clearly more evolved than Patrick Kennedy."
Tvert also slammed Kennedy for being part of a family that has profited from alcohol sales. (Kennedy, during his presser, said that the personal attacks were a sign of how unproductive the debate has become).
Sam Levin Mason Tvert.
"It's hypocritical and it's bad policy," said Tvert.
Continue for the full news release announcing Project SAM.