Colorado marijuana legalization leader Mason Tvert is leaving his role with the Marijuana Policy Project on Friday to join the well-known Denver-based cannabis consulting firm VS Strategies.
Tvert spent the last five years with MPP following the success of Amendment 64 in 2012, when Colorado voters approved legal retail marijuana with 55 percent of the vote. Tvert was a co-author and lead proponent of the measure.
Tvert will join VS Strategies as vice president of public relations and communications. He served as the director of communications for MPP, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, which is working on pushing legalization on the national level.
In addition to Colorado, Tvert worked on successful legalization initiatives in Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Tvert also worked on a handful of legalization efforts in legislatures.
It was in Colorado where Tvert gained national notoriety, fearlessly organizing legalization efforts on the local and statewide levels. He appeared unafraid to take on high-profile legalization opponents, often appearing in spirited debates with marijuana critics, including former Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican who is now the mayor of Colorado Springs.
Tvert also found himself challenging Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, pushing back against Hickenlooper’s hesitations over supporting marijuana legalization. Tvert helped push the coordinated campaign message that marijuana is safer than alcohol, repeatedly pointing to Hickenlooper’s business roots as a brewery owner.
Tvert in 2005 co-founded Colorado-based Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, or SAFER, which helped launch legalization ballot efforts in Colorado. What began as efforts on college campuses was soon taken to Denver, where the group pushed successful marijuana decriminalization initiatives.
It was during his time at SAFER that Tvert helped cultivate the “Marijuana is safer: so why are we driving people to drink?” message.
At VS Strategies, Tvert will lead a communications push around government relations and issue advocacy. The firm serves cannabis businesses, industry associations, ballot initiative campaigns, nonprofits, and others seeking to shape marijuana policy and opinion.
The lobbying and public affairs firm is affiliated with well-known Denver-based marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg. Its consulting arm is directed by Steve Fox, along with Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg, who all played leading roles in drafting Colorado’s historic Amendment 64. The principles also assisted in crafting rules and regulations that govern the burgeoning industry, which have become a national model.
“I am thrilled to be formally reuniting with Mason to continue our work to reshape the image of cannabis and advance marijuana policy reform,” Fox said. “To say that he is a cannabis communications expert is frankly understating his value.
“Whether he is educating the public about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol, coordinating events to advance legislation, or managing communications during ballot initiative campaigns, he is relentlessly aggressive yet unfailingly professional. We are excited to be able to offer his talents to interested individuals, organizations, businesses, and associations.”
It’s a marriage made over marijuana; specifically, Colorado voters’ decision to legalize it in 2012, and the federal government’s seeming inability to accept it.
Colorado U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman, the Aurora Republican, and Diana DeGette, the Denver Democrat, are again joining forces to push back at Donald Trump over pot just as they did against Barack Obama, reports Denverite’s Adrian Garcia.
Their “Respect States and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2017,” which they introduced in Congress this week, would make clear that Colorado and other states have the right to blaze their own trails on matters like marijuana policy. They filed the legislation in response to statements by Trump administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions that suggest he might start a crackdown.
The two lawmakers have filed the same legislation before, in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Here’s Coffman — who opposed legalization but says he respects the will of his state’s voters — as quoted by Denverite:
“Since this is clearly not a matter of interstate commerce, I believe that the people of Colorado had every right, under the U.S. Constitution, to decide this issue for themselves, and as their representative in Congress, I have an obligation to respect the will of the people of Colorado and that’s why I’m reintroducing this bill with Congresswoman DeGette.”
“My colleagues and I — along with our constituents — spoke out frequently during the Obama administration to make clear we didn’t want the federal government denying money to our states or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens … Lately, we’ve had even more reason for these concerns, given Trump administration statements.”
No guess as to the bill’s prospects this time around.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters March 6 from the Department of Justice that he thinks there is “real violence” behind the use of recreational marijuana, but Colorado’s marijuana advocates and others across the country are using state and local-level data to push back on Trump administration claims that legalizing marijuana somehow increases crime rates."
Sessions also told reporters he had a meeting the same day with the attorney general of Nebraska, who has expressed concerns about marijuana being transported from Colorado into Nebraska.
It's two and half weeks into the Colorado legislative session and lawmakers have introduced six bills concerning the state’s legal weed, which was legalized in the state five years ago.
It’s a sign of how fast legalization tends to happen and how long it takes to work out the commercial and regulatory details — and that was before Alabama’s anti-pot Sen. Jeff Sessions was nominated for U.S. attorney general.
Bills this year will draw public attention and make headlines, as in years past, but mostly they’ve become a routine part of life under the Gold Dome.