Pot Measure Moves Forward

Feb 282006
Authors: Vimal Patel regionalcollegian.com

A proposed statewide measure that would legalize small amounts of pot for adults is one step away from being put before voters, and on Thursday, the group behind the push will be at CSU to train signature collectors.

Mason Tvert, executive director of the pro-pot legalization SAFER, said he and his group will be in the Lory Student Center's Virginia Dale room at 6 p.m. Thursday.

"You're going to be seeing signature collection on campus all year," he said.

Before the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative is placed on November's ballot, SAFER must collect nearly 68,000 signatures, a figure calculated by taking five percent of all votes cast in the last race for secretary of state.

Tvert is set to kick off the signature-collection process at a noon press conference today in front of the Capitol building, and later tonight is set to be at the CU-Boulder campus.

It's not surprising that two of SAFER's first stops in the signature-gathering phase of the proposed ballot measure are at Colorado universities.

Tvert said his group, which gained international attention after the passage of I-100 in Denver, started on the state's university campuses because they are at the heart of the nation's alcohol problem.

The group's main argument is that marijuana is not as harmful as alcohol, and therefore it's illogical and fundamentally unfair to keep the plant illegal while allowing the drink.

"We just don't think people should be punished for making a safer choice," he said. "If an adult prefers to smoke marijuana rather than drink alcohol, we shouldn't prevent them from doing so."

Beverly Kinard, president of the Christian Drug Education Center, strongly disagrees with Tvert's claim that marijuana is more benign than alcohol.

"The harm that can come to our young people (if marijuana is legalized) is absolutely amazing," she said. "It would be one of the most devastating things that can happened to our children."

She added that marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs.

"As they go down the hill of depression, they find other drugs that make them feel better because marijuana has depressed them," Kinard said.

Tvert has said there's a correlation between marijuana use and harder drugs – the same way there's a correlation between eating fries and cheeseburgers – but that there's no causation.

Even if voters approve a statewide pot legalization measure, the drug will still remain illegal under federal statutes. But it's extremely rare for the federal government to intervene in minor pot-possession cases.

Tvert is also scheduled to be at Cheba Hut in Boulder at 4:20 p.m. today.

Vimal Patel can be reached at regional@collegian.com.

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