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Mason Tvert to Ben Roethlisberger: Maybe you wouldn't be in trouble if you'd been smoking weed

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You can always count on SAFER head Mason Tvert to defend the honor of marijuana. Note that he's previously praised a study showing teen toking is on the rise but binge drinking is falling and advocated a boycott of Starbucks, allegedly because the coffee titan supports the anti-pot Colorado Drug Investigators Association.

His latest target? The National Football League, which is reportedly worried about the "epidemic" number of potential draftees in this year's class who use or have used marijuana.

Tvert, of course, regards that as a good thing -- or at least less risky than recreational alcohol drinking. According to him, "The NFL needs to stop worrying about the next Ricky Williams [a famed Miami Dolphins weed fan] and worry more about the next Ben Roethlisberger," who he describes as "the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback recently accused of alcohol-fueled sexual assault for the second time."

Look below for Tvert's entire take:

DENVER -- According to a report posted today on SportsIllustrated.com, officials with the National Football League (NFL) are concerned by an "epidemic" of marijuana use among the athletes participating in this year's NFL draft. Read the entire report at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/don_banks/03/23/nfl.draft.marijuana/index.html?eref=sihp

In response, a national marijuana advocacy organization, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), is calling on the NFL to stop deriding and punishing those athletes who used -- or continue to use -- marijuana as a safer recreational alternative to alcohol.

"The NFL runs on alcohol, yet it runs from marijuana -- a far safer substance," said Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER and coauthor of Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009). "It's time for NFL officials to pull their heads out of the sand and accept the fact that many outstanding athletes -- and millions of Americans -- enjoy using marijuana, just as millions of NFL fans enjoy drinking beer produced by major NFL sponsors like Coors Light and Budweiser.

The organization believes the NFL's current marijuana policy -- which punishes current players who test positive for marijuana and scrutinizes draft prospects who admit to having (or are known to have) used marijuana during their college careers -- steering athletes away from using marijuana and driving them to drink.

As "Inside the NFL" columnist Don Banks reported:

"According to one veteran club personnel man interviewed by SI.com, 10 or 11 players who carry first-round draft grades on their board this year have been red-flagged for marijuana use in college, an estimate echoed by two clubs' head coaches. Another NFL head coach estimated that 'one-third'' of the players on his club's draft board had some sort of history with marijuana use and would thus require an extra level of evaluation as part of the pre-draft scouting process."

SAFER points to an abundance of evidence that has concluded alcohol is a major contributing factor in incidences of domestic violence, sexual assault, fighting, serious injury, and overdose, whereas marijuana has not been found to contribute to such violent and reckless behavior.

"The NFL needs to stop worrying about the next Ricky Williams and worry more about the next Ben Roethlisberger," Tvert said, referring respectively to the Miami Dolphins running back who repeatedly suspended and fined for marijuana use and the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback recently accused of alcohol-fueled sexual assault for the second time.

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