Pubdate: Fri, 21 Aug 2009
Source: Denver Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Denver Daily News
Author: Peter Marcus, DDN Staff Writer


Pot Advocates Produce Book

A hero to potheads across the nation, local marijuana advocate Mason
Tvert continues his smokin' streak with best-selling book
"Marijuana is Safer."

His first book aims to convince supporters and opponents alike that
marijuana is a safer recreational alternative to other substances like

"Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?" is
co-written by fellow pot experts Paul Armentano, deputy director of The
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Steve Fox,
director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project.

A launch event for the book will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at 8 Rivers
Cafe, 1550 Blake St.

Tvert became famous in Denver for leading voters to legalize the
simple possession of marijuana in 2005. When police and city officials
ignored the will of voters by continuing to arrest people for the
possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, Tvert and his
organization, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, fought back.
A subsequent voter-approved initiative in 2007 made the cops promise
to make marijuana their "lowest law enforcement priority."

The 2007 initiative created the Marijuana Policy Review Panel, which
includes both city leaders and citizens with the aim of holding police
to the voters' demand of not arresting people for the simple
possession of weed. The panel worked. Earlier this year Tvert
announced that marijuana prosecutions dropped 21 percent.

He hopes to continue that trend with "Marijuana is

"There's been a great deal of debate surrounding marijuana and
marijuana laws, but too many Americans are still unaware of the fact
that marijuana is far safer than alcohol," Tvert told the Denver Daily
News yesterday. "The book's message that marijuana prohibition, paired
with current alcohol laws, is driving people to drink is something
many people haven't considered -- we're trying to highlight the fact
that we're not trying to promote a drug, we're trying to provide an
alternative, a safer alternative to alcohol."

The book uses research and scientific evidence to compare and contrast
the relative harms and legal status of both marijuana and alcohol. In
the end, there has never been a documented case of someone dying from
marijuana use, but every year 100,000 Americans die from
alcohol-related causes.

Big Seller

Readers must be interested in the topic -- as of press time last night,
"Marijuana is Safer" was listed as No. 17 on's top 100
bestsellers, making "Marijuana is Safer" the all-time top-selling
marijuana-related book on

The book has been endorsed by medical and psychology professors, law
enforcement officials, former New Mexico Republican Gov. Gary Johnson,
an executive with the conservative-leaning Cato Institute, a former
executive with the American Civil Liberties Union, and even by
professional athletes.

"It's going great, more and more people are coming to realize
marijuana is safer than alcohol, and as a result, more and more people
are open to discussing reform and allowing adults to make the safer
choice," said Tvert. "Support for marijuana reform has grown every
year here in Denver and it certainly seems to be growing on the
national level."

The outspoken pot advocate believes reform will happen on a
state-by-state basis. SAFER ran a statewide voter initiative in 2006
attempting to legalize the simple possession of marijuana, but voters
rejected the question. Tvert believes, however, that support is growing.

A similar initiative is currently being carried in Breckenridge -- a
marijuana advocacy group in the mountain town has successfully
qualified the initiative for the November ballot.

And as states consider their fiscal woes -- exacerbated by the worst
economic downturn since the Great Depression -- some, like California,
are considering legalizing and taxing pot to help with budget shortfalls.

On the federal level, Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., is working on
legislation that would remove federal penalties for personal marijuana

Part of the mission of "Marijuana is Safer" is to get the book into
the hands of lawmakers to encourage them to craft marijuana reform
policies. Tvert is asking supporters to not only buy a copy of the
book for themselves, but also for their state representative.

"This isn't about being pro-drug," he said. "This is about being
pro-safety, pro-health and pro-good public policy, and allowing adults
to make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol
if that's what they prefer so that we're no longer driving people to



Book Launch Event

WHEN: Sunday, 2-5 p.m.

WHERE: 8 Rivers Cafe, 1550 Blake St.

COST: $20 buys you a copy of the book; $30 gets you a copy and one
sent to a lawmaker

BOOK INFO: Paperback; Chelsea Green Publishing; Authors: Mason Tvert,
Paul Armentano and Steve Fox
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake