At 11:30 a.m. this morning in the State Capitol's Senate press room, members of the Women's Marijuana Movement will mark both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month by arguing that increased cannabis use may help prevent rapes fueled by booze.
It's a subject that WMM co-founder Toni Fox understands from personal experience.
Fox, who's the stepmother of an eighteen-year-old college student and mother of a fourteen-month-old toddler, comes from what she describes as "an alcoholic family" and admits that she developed "a tendency to use alcohol to the point where you get intoxicated."
This habit led directly to the first of several incidents during her life when she was sexually assaulted, she says.
"I was in tenth grade, and I lived in a small town -- absolutely middle America, where it's socially acceptable for kids to binge-drink at any early age," she recalls. "I was invited to a party with the popular kids and binge-drank with them. And one of the attendees, a very popular kid in school, took complete advantage of me. I was completely inebriated, passed out, and he had sex with me anyway."
Similar situations took place in years to come. "When I was older, in my twenties and going out to nightclubs, excessive drinking was always part of the poor choices I made. You lose your ability to rationalize, and bad things can happen. And every woman I've spoken to, other than my daughter, has been sexually assaulted in one form or another -- and when they look back on it, alcohol was involved."
That's one reason Fox got involved with the Mason Tvert-founded SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) six years ago. She subsequently helped launch the Women's Marijuana Movement -- and her stepdaughter's attendance at Metro State College has only reinforced her views about marijuana versus alcohol.
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"My daughter makes the safer choice," notes Fox, who says she now drinks rarely and only in moderation. "Not that I condone her using marijuana when she's only eighteen. But she tells me on almost a weekly basis about someone she knows at school who was date-raped because of alcohol. And thank goodness nothing like that has ever happened to her."
At this morning's event, Fox says, "we're hoping to have at least several dozen women and men in Colorado come forward and represent the opinion that marijuana is safer than alcohol and that we need to legalize it and equalize it to alcohol." This message is expected to be part of a push for a proposed 2012 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use; according to Tvert, the legalization measure is in the planning stages. That's why attendees will be distributing information about marijuana to legislators after the press conference concludes.
"My main goal is to let them see a different face of cannabis users," Fox says. "And to let Coloradans know it's okay, and there's a place where they can join where their voice can be heard."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Pot legalization: Photos of Women's Marijuana Movement event in support of CA's Prop. 19."