Marijuana legalization: Mason Tvert touts initiative process openness, seeks more input

The filing of eight 2012 marijuana legalization initiatives by a group led by Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert has come in for criticism from Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho, who accuses organizers of ignoring local activists.

But Tvert says nothing could be further from the truth.

"This is the very first step of a long process," Tvert notes. "We started early so we would have the opportunity to go through the review-and-comment hearing. But we continue to speak with the community, and we have the opportunity to change aspects of the initiative, so that we can emerge with the best initiative possible.

"There's a misconception that these are eight entirely different initiatives," he goes on. "But there's often only one sentence that's changed. We're testing things right now to see if they'll be the best route to go in terms of initiative language." For example, "one includes hemp and one doesn't include hemp. We think hemp could and should be included, but it's possible the board will think it's a single-subject violation" -- the single-subject rule precludes multiple topics from being combined in the same measure. "And since we want to make sure we get on the 2012 ballot, we filed both, so we will have a backup."

Tvert and company took the same tack when it comes to language that might trigger the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, aka the TABOR amendment, the target of a lawsuit filed this week by 34 prominent plaintiffs. And he adds that "we're continuing to hone the language, so that we can make it the best we can possibly have."

Far from ignoring Colorado marijuana-scene stakeholders, Tvert stresses that "we posted advertisements publicly and sent out e-mail blasts asking for comments -- and we took these comments into significant consideration. We also met with organizations that represent tens of thousands of Coloradans -- industry folks and other leaders within the community. And we still hope we can all work together toward the best possible initiative."

Indeed, Tvert says that if the Cannabis Therapy Institute, which backs the separate Legalize2012.com campaign, or any other group "creates an initiative that seems better and more viable and ends up getting on the ballot, we would certainly consider supporting it."

The bottom line, in his view, is earning the right to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2012 ballot. "It's critical," he maintains, "because otherwise, we would have to wait until 2016" under the theory that more young people and progressive voters apt to favor legalization tend to vote in presidential elections.

He adds that "we continue to go to great extremes to communicate with the public, so we can make sure we have the best initiative moving forward."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Mile High Kush Expo report: more schwag than dank (PHOTOS)."

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