Mason Tvert wants Betsy Markey to honor medical marijuana industry

Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), has spent five years arguing that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol -- and even critics would have to agree that his creativity in promoting this idea is off the charts.

A boycott of Starbucks because of the store's tenuous link to an anti-weed group? Absolutely. Bamboozling his way onto the Amazon books best-seller list? Sure. Suggesting that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might have been able to avoid sexual-assault accusations if he'd smoked instead of drank? Damn straight.

His latest gambit: Shortly after Congress adapted Representative Betsy Markey's resolution in praise of the craft-beer industry, Tvert publicly beseeched her to do the same for the medical marijuana business. After all, his release declares, MMJ dispensary owners "are also entrepreneurs who are crafting a product that is useful to society."

Voting for the measure is "a no-brainer," Tvert feels. To find out why, read on:

Congresswoman Betsy Markey Sponsors Resolution Recognizing Craft Beer Industry -- Colorado Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owners Call on Her to Introduce Similar Resolution Recognizing the Burgeoning Medical Marijuana Industry

Markey praises "entrepreneurs that are creating jobs" in beer industry and wants to "celebrate that [brewing] is a craft" -- Dispensary owners say they are also entrepreneurs crafting a useful product

SAFER: If Markey can celebrate American "tradition" of alcohol production and use, she should have no problem celebrating the American tradition of people using a far SAFER substance -- MARIJUANA

FORT COLLINS -- On Tuesday, May 18, Congress adopted a resolution sponsored by U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey of Colorado, recognizing the craft beer industry in light of its promotion of entrepreneurialism and its contribution to society. Now medical marijuana dispensary owners across the congresswoman's home-state are calling on her to sponsor a similar resolution recognizing their industry for the very same reasons.

As POLITICO reported this morning (see the entire report at

We've got quite a number of microbreweries and entrepreneurs that are creating jobs, and we wanted to celebrate that this is a craft," Markey told POLITICO.

"I think beer has been a tradition since this country was founded," said Markey. "We wanted to celebrate entrepeneurship -- and good beer!"Markey is obviously partial to brews from her home state of Colorado, but she won't claim a favorite.

"You can't just have one," said Markey. "It really depends on what mood you're in. Sometimes, I like a light beer -- I might want a Skinny Dip -- or otherwise prefer a heavier brew."

The real question is: Why would anyone vote against this?

"It does seem like a no brainer," said Markey.

Medical marijuana dispensary owners say they are also entrepreneurs who are crafting a product that is useful to society. Last week, the Colorado legislature adopted regulations of the state's booming medical marijuana industry, establishing legal production and dispensation of marijuana.

"I'm just as much an entrepreneur as the owner of any microbrewery in Colorado," said Tina Valenti, owner of In Harmony Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary in Markey's district. "Cultivating various strains of medical-grade marijuana is just as much a craft as brewing various types of beer."

"Just as Congresswoman Markey might want a lighter beer on one occasion and a heavier beer on another, my patients might need a more potent type of marijuana on one occasion and a less potent type on another," said Kayvan Khalatbari, owner of Denver Relief.

Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), a Colorado-based non-profit organization that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol, is also calling on Markey to introduce a resolution recognizing the medical marijuana industry.

"If Congresswoman Markey can introduce a resolution touting the production of alcohol -- a drug that contributes to acts of violence and other serious problems -- we don't know why she wouldn't be willing to introduce one touting the production of a far less harmful product that had never been found to contribute to such problems," said SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert.

"Why would anyone vote against that?" Tvert said. "It's a no brainer."

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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