Marijuana legalization: Mason Tvert blasts John Hickenlooper and politicos who dodge issue

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"We're really highlighting the fact that Mayor Hickenlooper continues to oppose reforming marijuana laws despite the fact that he has made a fortune selling a far more harmful substance," Tvert says, referring to Hickenlooper's previous career as a tavern owner. "It's time he explained what's going on."

Does that mean Tvert will encourage people to vote for Tom Tancredo, a gubernatorial candidate who's in favor of marijuana legalization? Not exactly.

"We're not endorsing any candidates," he emphasizes. "We're simply highlighting their positions on the issue. But Tom Tancredo has certainly been very forthright in his support for reforming marijuana laws, as has the Libertarian candidate [Jaimes Brown]. It's unfortunate that Mayor Hickenlooper, who hails from Denver, the city that was the first in the nation to remove all penalties for marijuana possession, is behind the times."

Other officials and political hopefuls appear to be in denial, judging by SAFER's voter guides. (Click on the appropriate links to access the candidate survey for governor, the candidate survey for senate, the first candidate survey for the house and a second house candidate survey.)

"We asked all the candidates where they stand on the subject of regulating marijuana and treating it like alcohol," Tvert notes. "We received a lot of good responses back from a lot of legislators, but we didn't receive any from far too many -- and that's just unacceptable.

"We went out of our way to make it as easy as possible. It was a one-question survey -- probably the shortest candidate survey in history -- and we gave them ample time. First, we mailed them the form and provided a return envelope and a stamp. Then we followed up with e-mails and phone calls. But we still, unfortunately, had a lot of people who were unwilling to share their opinions on the subject -- and that's just unacceptable."

They might not be able to remain silent for much longer -- particularly if California's Proposition 19, a cannabis legalization measure touted at a recent Denver rally, becomes law. Right now, Tvert believes the vote in Cali is too close to call, but either way, "we're very likely to see marijuana on the Colorado ballot in 2012, and we want to know where our elected officials stand."

Look below to read the press release about today's event:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts