Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act: Mason Tvert upbeat despite infighting claim

"Infighting Trips Up Supporters' Legalization Bid," a story on the front page of today's Denver Post, missed the mark for Mason Tvert, among the most prominent proponents of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, and not just because much of the information in it had already been widely reported or was out of date. He also thinks the headline's claim is inaccurate. "I wouldn't characterize it as being tripped up," he says. "The process is moving along very smoothly."

Example? When Tvert spoke with Post reporter John Ingold last week for the story, he mentioned that 35,000 signatures had been collected on petitions to put the act on the November 2012 ballot -- a figure that wasn't updated prior to publication. By now, however, "we're over 40,000," he says.

Much of the other information in the article will be familiar to readers of The Latest Word, including activist Miguel Lopez's admission that he took a Regulate petition (reported here on July 26). The piece also stated that Crazy for Justice's Corey Donahue was arrested for disrupting a meeting at Boulder Public Library last month, when it actually took place in July, too. Since then, a warrant was issued against Donahue for allegedly stealing documents from the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division without paying for them.

From Tvert's perspective, using incidents that took place more than a month ago to illustrate conflict between advocates with different perspectives on marijuana reform misses a larger point. "This is a historic ballot initiative effort," he stresses. "It's being looked upon as perhaps the best opportunity in history to end marijuana prohibition at the state level. We haven't been derailed or deterred by any opponent, including those both for and against marijuana. What we've found is that everyone appears to be rallying behind this effort, with perhaps the exception of a few. All the momentum is on our side."

When making this claim, is Tvert factoring in the continuing efforts on the part of numerous communities to prohibit medical marijuana sales? Note that a Longmont ban just went into effect, and a vote will take place this November to outlaw retail MMJ businesses in Fort Collins, long one of the friendliest cities to medical marijuana operations.

From Tvert's perspective, however, "it's apples and oranges. Obviously, there have been votes against medical marijuana, although those votes keep taking place in odd-number-year elections and city elections where there's clearly low voter turnout and a more conservative voting base. If those votes happened in 2012, I don't know that a lot of them would necessarily win.

"But the initiative we've put forward does allow localities to make those decisions, either through a vote of the people or their representative bodies," he continues. "It conforms to Colorado's status as a home-rule state. Some counties issue many liquor licenses, others do not -- and some states have dry counties. There's no black-and-white with alcohol, and that would be the case with our initiative, too."

In the meantime, the petition process continues. "We've got hundreds of volunteers out there collecting signatures, and we have petitions in more than a hundred businesses, most of which are medical marijuana businesses," he says. "They're helping the campaign by allowing petitioning in their establishments."

No wonder he's more optimistic than ever that the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act will make next year's ballot where there are reports of infighting or not.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Patients who only need caretaker for pot can't have one, new rules say."

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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