Marijuana advocate Mason Tvert rebuffed: Mayor John Hickenlooper's office declines to pull Lieutenant Ernie Martinez from pot panel

Last week, we told you how prominent pot advocate Mason Tvert, head of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), wanted the mayor-appointed Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel, on which he sits, to expel one of its members: Lieutenant Ernie Martinez, head of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association (CDIA). Tvert called for the ouster of Martinez, a longtime rival, because of a 2006 letter the investigator had written that compared marijuana legalization advocates to cancer.

However, Mayor John Hickenlooper's office isn't going along with the request, according to a prepared statement from communications director Eric Brown:

The Marijuana Policy Review Panel (MPRP) intentionally represents a variety of viewpoints, including those of Lt. Martinez. The MPRP has 11 appointed positions (the appointment of the District Attorney was declined) and there are 10 voting panelists in practice.

Lt. Martinez is one voice on the panel. Police officers and recreational users of marijuana may, understandably, have very different perspectives on the phrases "lowest law enforcement priority" and "greatest extent possible." The role of the MPRP is to determine what this ordinance means, in practice, after incorporating all viewpoints -- not just those on one side of the debate. The MPRP's upcoming report to City Council should shed more light on this matter.

It will be interesting to see how the flare-up impacts the panel's report to City Council, as well as the MPRP's meeting tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to go over 2009 marijuana arrest statistics. After all, knowing Tvert, he likely won't be accepting the mayor's decision quietly.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner