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Celebrity Buzz For Marijuana

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An intriguing item in the classifieds of the Hollywood Reporter read in
part: "Celebrity outreach coordinator/firm in L.A. sought by Marijuana
Policy Project."

The job's implied mix of pot and paparazzi sounds glamorous, but the
Marijuana Policy Project quickly bursts the illusion that the job will go
to some slacker who wants to get high and listen to Bob Marley.

"We're the corporate world of marijuana reform," says Chad Thevenot,
director of grants and outreach for the MPP, which he calls the largest
organization in the world devoted to changing marijuana laws. "It's
outreach to celebrities to get them to speak out for marijuana policy

Although Woody Harrelson or Snoop Dogg might come to mind, Thevenot says
his organization is taking a broader approach. "It's not really targeted
for one specific celebrity. There might be one prominent person who takes
the lead, but it's also someone -- ideally in Los Angeles -- who can get
involved in different types of projects or serve on an informal advisory
board to endorse MPP's mission and policy reforms. We have a wide range of
efforts from lobbying to public policy to coalition building to sign-on
letters to commercial or Web site work. It's as much about raising funds
as about raising the profile."

The MPP's employees are more corporate than counterculture, Thevenot says.
"We're professionals and wear suits and ties, a bunch of wonks."

The staff has heard every sniping joke imaginable about weed, pot or
smoke, but it doesn't faze them. Inevitably a politician who opposes MPP
policy will say, "You must smoke pot," Thevenot says. But that same
politician will be shocked after receiving 300 postcards from constituents
on a policy issue like medical marijuana. Thevenot says his staff is
circumspect. "Because of the stereotypes we're more fastidious than we
have to be."

Author: Michael T. Jarvis
Source: Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Website: Los Angeles Times
Pubdate: Sunday, November 2, 2003