It's almost 4/20 -- and here comes Mason Tvert

April 20 isn't only the anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School. It's also 4/20, a national celebration of cannabis culture -- something long supported by Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), who led the successful 2005 campaign to legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for 21-and-up Denverites. However, events sponsored by SAFER on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus today aren't being portrayed as a prelude to that sacred day, which is less than two weeks away. Instead, Tvert is tying into National Alcohol Awareness Month, as well as the Amethyst Initiative, an organization made up of college chancellors and presidents who want to reduce drinking on campuses. He's promoting the "Emerald Initiative," which implies that drinking might be curbed if restrictions against pot use were eased -- and he's calling on the Barack Obama administration to lend a hand in the name of science. Yes, science.

Check out the latest variation on Tvert's rap, as well as a schedule of events at CU, which begin at noon, by clicking "Continue."

National Campaign Targets College Presidents and HHS Secretary Nominee Sebelius, Urging Them to Promote Public Debate on Whether Removing or Reducing Penalties for Marijuana Use Would Curb Dangerous Student Drinking

SAFER responds to Amethyst Initiative with "Emerald Initiative," as universities nationwide adopt "SAFER Campus Referendums"calling for changes in campus policies that drive students to drink with harsher penalties for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead

Students will join SAFER for news conferences and rallies Wednesday (4/8) at the University of Colorado at Boulder -- where SAFER got its start following a student alcohol overdose death -- and Thursday (4/9) at the University of Kansas, the latest site of a student alcohol overdose death (and Gov. Sebelius's home state)

DENVER -- April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, and Denver-based non-profit organization, SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), is launching a national campaign targeting college and university presidents, as well as the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, urging them to promote public debate on whether removing or reducing penalties for marijuana use would curb dangerous student drinking. SAFER will be joined by student activists and supporters as it announces the campaign at news conferences and rallies on the campuses of the University of Colorado at Boulder -- where it was established following the high-profile alcohol overdose death of student Lynn "Gordie" Bailey -- and at the University of Kansas, where last month Jason Wren became the latest U.S. college student to die from an alcohol overdose. * See Below For Event Details *

The "Emerald Initiative" calls on the more than 130 college presidents and chancellors who endorsed the Amethyst Initiative -- a statement in support of "informed and dispassionate public debate" on lowering the legal drinking age to 18 -- to endorse a statement supporting "informed and dispassionate public debate" on whether allowing students to use marijuana more freely could reduce dangerous drinking on and around college campuses. The Emerald Initiative statement has been mailed to every signatory of the Amethyst Initiative, along with a survey regarding the use of alcohol and marijuana by students at their respective schools...

"Universities nationwide are trying everything from encouraging students to drink responsibly, promoting 'social norms drinking,' and even, in some cases, proposing a lowering of the drinking age in order to curb dangerous student alcohol use," said SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert. "Some may scoff at the Emerald Initiative, but its no less viable a plan and this is literally a matter of life and death.

"It's time our colleges and universities stop teaching students to 'drink responsibly,' and start teaching them to 'party responsibly," Tvert said.

The Emerald Initiative will also target presidents and chancellors at colleges where students have adopted SAFER Referendums, calling on their schools to change campus policies so that they no longer steer students toward drinking with harsher penalties for marijuana use. Students at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville are currently voting on a SAFER Referendum, and students at Purdue University approved one last week, making it the sixth of the nation's 15 largest universities to adopt such a measure. The first SAFER Referendums were adopted at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University in 2005, and since then they have been approved by a majority of student voters at Ohio State University, the University of Central Florida, Florida State University, the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Maryland, and the University of Washington, among others.

At SAFER's news conference at the University of Kansas, it will call on Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, to reflect on the recent alcohol-related student death in her home state and turn a critical eye to this issue. In particular, SAFER is urging Gov. Sebelius, if confirmed, to direct the Surgeon General, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and/or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to conduct a study to assess the potential impact of reducing or removing marijuana penalties on the prevalence of dangerous drinking and alcohol-related problems among college students.

"President Obama said his administration would base its policies and actions on science and evidence," Tvert said. "Gov. Sebelius could do just that by leading our nation's colleges in developing safer, more rational alcohol and marijuana policies.

"It is time for our nation's university and political leaders to get their heads out of the sand and take this issue seriously."

On Thursday evening at the University of Kansas, Tvert will participate in a panel discussion on campus titled "Bold New Approaches to Dangerous Drinking: From Lowering the Drinking Age to Legalizing Marijuana," which will feature KU's Vice Provost for Student Success, a KU Professor of Preventive Medicine, a representative from the KU Office of Public Safety, and a representative from the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association. The short documentary, "Death By Alcohol: The Sam Spady Story," will be screened prior to the panel discussion. "Death By Alcohol" will also be screened at an event co-hosted by SAFER on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus on Wednesday evening, followed by a question and answer session with the documentary's producer and a lecture by SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert.

University of Colorado at Boulder Events -- Wednesday, April 8

WHAT: SAFER Campuses Initiative news conference and rally at the University of Colorado at Boulder

WHEN: Wednesday, April 8, 12 p.m.

WHERE: Dalton Trumbo Fountain Court (MAP), outside the University Memorial Center, University of Colorado campus, Boulder

WHO: Mason Tvert, Executive Director, SAFER, CU student SAFER activists and supporters

Evening Event

WHAT: Screening of Death By Alcohol: The Sam Spady Story, a 30-minute documentary about the alcohol overdose death of a college student, followed by a discussion by SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert, "Alcohol, Marijuana and the SAFER Campuses Initiative"

WHEN: Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Christol Chemistry Building (MAP), Room 142, University of Colorado campus, Boulder

WHO: Barry Bortnick, Producer, Death By Alcohol: The Sam Spady Story, Mason Tvert, Executive Director, SAFER

Free and open to the public

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