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Legalized Pot On Its Way, Advocate Claims

The General

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In his gray suit, plaid necktie and Young Republican haircut, Mason Tvert came onstage looking more like a lobbyist than an advocate for legalized pot. In fact, he's both. As the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, Tvert is right in the thick of the movement to roll back laws against recreational cannabis use – a movement he says is picking up steam all over the country, including here in Oregon, where at least one statewide legalization measure could be on the ballot next year.

He spoke about his work Tuesday night at Oregon State University's LaSells Stewart Center, where he was invited to deliver the annual Gov. Tom McCall Memorial Lecture. In a 90-minute talk titled "The Road to Legal Marijuana in America," Tvert traced the weed's up-and-down history in this country, from hemp cultivation for textile production in the 17th century to medicinal uses in the 19th and prohibition in the 20th. Things began to change in the 1960s, he said, when the counterculture embraced recreational pot smoking. While mainstream acceptance remained elusive, people started talking about the issue, and cracks began to appear in what had once been a unified front against the weed.

Tvert used examples from presidential politics to chart the change. From 1968 to 1972, Richard Nixon made marijuana a target in the war on drugs. But in 1972, Jimmy Carter tried to persuade Congress to repeal criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce. While Carter failed at the national level, over the next several years 11 states (beginning with Oregon) decriminalized pot. "We start to see this public discussion, and as a result we start to see the laws change," Tvert said. The movement stalled during the Reagan years but regained some momentum in 1992, when Bill Clinton admitted he had tried pot in college, though he claimed he didn't inhale.

Between 1996 and 2007, 12 states and the District of Columbia legalized medical marijuana. And by 2007, Barack Obama could openly acknowledge that not only had he tried pot in his youth, but "I inhaled – frequently – I believe that was the point." Since then, medicinal cannabis has been approved in nine more states, while recreational use has been decriminalized in six more states and the nation's capital. "The conversation has dramatically changed," Tvert said. Tvert also contrasted marijuana's outlaw status with the widespread social acceptance of alcohol, which he called far more destructive.

"What's really interesting is we've got these two substances and we know one of them is exceptionally less harmful than the other (yet) for some reason we have a society that's completely embraced drinking," he said. That contradiction has been at the heart of Tvert's own efforts to persuade voters to overturn prohibitions against marijuana use. He co-founded Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, a Colorado nonprofit that promotes smoking pot as a benign alternative to drinking. He helped lead a local initiative drive that removed all penalties for adult marijuana possession in the city of Denver in 2005 and the statewide effort that legalized and regulated recreational marijuana throughout Colorado in 2012.

Both campaigns played heavily on the notion that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, a strategy Tvert said he plans to pursue in other states in his new role with the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. Based on organizing efforts and initiative campaigns already underway, he predicted that 14 states and the District of Columbia would join Colorado and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults over the next four years, with Oregon a candidate to be on the list. "Things are moving forward very quickly, and it's all because of how much discussion is taking place around this issue," Tvert said. "At this point I don't see anything that can stop it."

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News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Gazettetimes.com
Author: Bennett Hall
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Legalized pot on its way, advocate claims
 

yooper rex

Well-Known Member
Never thought I would live to see this happen. Now it`s lookin` like I will. And I`m 66 years young. Have used this gift of "Mother Nature" daily since June 1968 (46 yrs.). Finally enough people listened and had their eyes opened to the truth. Quit drinking alcohol 25 years ago before something legal got me in big trouble.
 

Bonsaibean

New Member
“At this point I don’t see anything that can stop it.” That kind of hubris is what can stop it. As soon as anyone starts thinking it's in the bag, they're going to let their guard down, and stop working as hard. Until it's fully legal, maybe even by the tomato model, we haven't won the war.
 
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