Hash Wednesday

Here’s a suggestion for Mason Tvert and his fellow pot-smoking advocates: If you want the rest of us to take you and your agenda seriously, don’t treat us like we’re stupid.

Tvert, of course, is the executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation). The group sponsored the recently-passed bill legalizing marijuana possession, up to an ounce, in Denver. Yesterday, his group kicked off their campaign to pass similar legislation on a statewide level. Assembled on the steps of the Capitol building, they began collecting the 68,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot.

And on the steps of the Capitol building, Mason and company confirmed what I’ve suspected all along: they’re willing to do or say absolutely anything, as long as it advances their agenda.

“Simply signing this petition to put it on the ballot means you think it should be debated,” Tvert said in one of this morning’s local dailies. He made similar promises to bystanders, assuring them that a signature did not necessarily imply advocation of legalizing pot. The truth of the statement is questionable, as the petition will become part of public record and is generally viewed as the first wave of people willing to say that they think the initiative should be passed. Tvert’s claim references the fact that, once the petition is signed by the requisite number of residents, the initiative would still have to be approved by voters before it would become law.

A year ago, it might have seemed pointless to even present voters with such a notion. The line seemed to be drawn at medical marijuana. But legalizing pot just for the sake of recreational use? It would have been (and was) scorned mercilessly.

Until it passed.

All of a sudden, the tide appeared to be turning. It was a narrow margin, but the initiative passed and Denver voters legalized the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Lawmakers were quick to label it a fluke and to say that it “slipped under the radar.” (This, too, is a highly questionable statement, as it’s hard to imagine voters accidentally voting to legalize pot.) But the effect of the initiative was minimal, as on the first day after the vote, police continued to apprehend those found with now-legal dope. Prosecutions continued, citing state law, which supersedes local law and still deems marijuana an illegal substance.

That’s why Mason and pals are taking it to the next level. If passed statewide, possession would still be a federal crime, but apprehension would become a matter for the FBI. And the common speculation, with which I am likely to agree, is that the Feds have more important items on their to-do lists than nailing dope smokers.

So what’s the reason for my apparent hostility toward Mason and his SAFER crew? I’m not particularly opposed to marijuana. I smoked a fair amount myself in my late teens, and though I don’t run with a pot-smoking crowd these days, I don’t begrudge someone else who wants to sit on his back porch with joint in hand.

My beef with the reefer has to do with the tactics being used to pass the legislation. The organization’s acronym says it all: SAFER. That’s their allegation, that pot is safer than alcohol. And while this may be supportable by evidence like impairment studies and automobile accident statistics, I take issue with statements like, “By banning pot, you’re FORCING people to use ALCOHOL for recreation, even though alcohol’s more dangerous.”

That’s ridiculous.

It would be like me saying that because Uzis are so expensive, Dick Cheney was FORCED to use a RIFLE which had much worse accuracy and may have led to the accidental shooting of his hunting companion.

That’s so stupid, even Dubya might be forced to admit it.

Nobody’s forcing anyone to use alcohol. Like any potentially dangerous substance, consumption is at the user’s own discretion. It’s a laughable assertion that without the legalization of pot, I will be forced to sit around and drink cheap beer because there is nothing worthwhile to do for entertainment or recreation beyond altering my mind. That’s the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard.

Is alcohol dangerous? Of course. Is it more dangerous than pot? Probably. But does that mean pot should be legal? I don’t think so, and I’m betting that Denver voters don’t, either. The real question we should be asking is whether or not alcohol should be legal, but that question will never be taken seriously. We already like alcohol, and it’s already been legalized. It’s much easier to make something legal than to make it illegal, which is why we should think twice before we rush to legalize pot. What if legalizing pot ends up making things worse, despite the assurances of SAFER that the world would be a better place to live? What if we later want to change our minds? We’ll have a hell of a time getting it banned again, that’s what will happen.

Is it a double-standard? Yes. But the simple fact of the matter is that legalizing pot isn’t going to make the world a safer place. It’s just going to give people one more thing to abuse. And yes, there are plenty of pot-smokers out there already, but if it becomes legal, there will certainly be more.

So I take issue with Tvert’s claim that marijuana is safer, because “safer” doesn’t mean “safe.” And using this logic as his justification for the initiative doesn’t hold bong water.

What pushed me over the edge was the newspaper’s assertion that SAFER actually took advantage of a nearby, Capitol-step party the Democrats were having nearby to celebrate the gubernatorial candidacy of Bill Ritter. People were confused, thinking that Mason’s party was Bill’s party, and Mason did nothing to clarify the mix-up. He just pressed everyone for signatures and gave the line, “it just means you think it should be debated.”

And that, in my mind, speaks volumes about the integrity of the people trying to pass the Pot Bill. If you have to cheat and sneak around to get your legislation passed, your legislation’s probably not worth passing.

We already saw this a couple of years ago when PETA, along with their celebrated, 15-year old advocate Heather Herman, tried to convince us that circus animals were mistreated so badly that we should ban circuses from Denver. What happened when we found out that the video clips of elephant beatings weren’t even filmed in America? That circuses in the States are regulated by the Department of Wildlife? That PETA doesn’t love animals, they just hate humans? We got pissed off, that’s what happened. And we voted that initiative down by an 80-20 margin.

If Mason and pals want us to take them seriously, they should quit insulting our intelligence. They should say that they want our signatures because they want to smoke pot, they like smoking pot, and they would rather grow their own than buy it off of guys who smell like piss in dark alleyways. That’s the end of it. If they want to drop the “safer” crap and call a spade a spade, I’ll offer my signature.

But don’t treat us like we’re stupid.

Or stoned.

5 Comments so far

  1. no expert (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 1:27 pm

    You hit the nail on the head when you agreed marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.

    You need to get your facts straight, though. SAFER announced their rally prior to Ritter’s, and there is a great deal of speculation as to whether Ritter tried to capitalize on the press he knew SAFER would get.

    Ask a real blogger who received both press releases…

    What pushed me over the edge was the newspaper’s assertion that SAFER actually took advantage of a nearby, Capitol-step party the Democrats were having nearby to celebrate the gubernatorial candidacy of Bill Ritter. People were confused, thinking that Mason’s party was Bill’s party, and Mason did nothing to clarify the mix-up. He just pressed everyone for signatures and gave the line, “it just means you think it should be debated.


  2. Terri (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    Rob, I like what you siad about the legalizing of pot. I agree that tese people of SAFER think we are stupid, and think that we all want this purposed bill passe to legalize pot! I personally think that SAFER needs to reserach the dangers of pot use and aclchol use and compare the two, before saying that one is safer then the other. All in all I liked waht you wrote on this topic.


  3. Gabe (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

    Duuude, I’m hungry, let’s go get some munchies, hehe I said munchies!

    I guess I’m fairly neutral on this subject. I haven’t had enough encounters with the stuff to judge it for myself and we all know that the scientific studies aren’t ‘proof’ of anything (ex: are butter and eggs good or bad for you?)When I hear reliable stories of local cops merely confiscating weed and not writing tickets or prosecuting I get the feeling that this is going to be one of those things that finds it’s way into legality at some point.


  4. hubs (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2006 @ 10:42 am

    please link to me any source that quotes anyone from safer saying: “By banning pot, you’re FORCING people to use ALCOHOL for recreation, even though alcohol’s more dangerous.” (your qoutes and emphasis by the way).

    I don’t think so, and I’m betting that Denver voters don’t, either.
    sorry, Denver voters have already said they did.

    The real question we should be asking is whether or not alcohol should be legal, but that question will never be taken seriously.
    that question has already been taken very seriously: it was a period in americas history called prohibition.

    Mason did nothing to clarify the mix-up.
    even more interesting was neither did Bill Ritters party.

    otherwise your point is valid, without SAFER around pounding the pulpit, nobody would be abusing pot. huh?


  5. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (unregistered) on March 7th, 2006 @ 8:41 am

    I can’t speak about SAFER, but I totally agree with this point you make: If a group has to lie to support its agenda, how valid can its agenda really be?

    PETA comes to mind again. A friend of mine had been politely writing to them to correct their misrepresentation of Santeria in one of their pamphlets. Santeria, of course, is a religion of which the respectful sacrifice of animals (usually livestock) is occasionally a part. This is protected by the First Amendment. You can imagine PETA isn’t too fond of this. Many people aren’t. Understandable. But in order to arouse anti-Santeria sentiment, PETA’s propoganda misrepresented facts about Santeria’s actual sacrificial practices to make things sound even more distasteful to the average Joe. They also deliberately constructed some of their phrasing to imply a connection between Santeria and Satanism.

    You would think that in the pursuit of anti-animal-sacrifice legislation, PETA need only portray Santeria as it is. Why imply that the religion is akin to devil worship and that its practitioners were going to steal your family dog for next week’s rite? If the bare facts aren’t enough to get the public on your side, just accept that your opinion is unpopular and go home.

    But maybe PETA figured that not enough people would get up-in-arms just because chickens’ necks were being wrung in a religious rite rather than in a farmyard. Maybe PETA worried that more people would, like my friend, come to the conclusion that religious animal sacrifice in and of itself can’t be illegalized while commercial “sacrifice” (i. e. the beef industry) remained legal.

    So PETA threw in some lies guaranteed to arouse the right kind of public sentiment. Dislike Santeria all you like, you can’t tell me that’s right.

    PETA eventually wrote back to my friend, thanking her for her input but declining her invitation to edit their pamphlet for accuracy. It served their purpose quite well with its lies intact.

    If an agenda can’t stand up on its own, propping it up with misleading, manipulative statements doesn’t make that agenda any more worthy of success, is what I’m saying.

    Again, can’t speak to whether SAFER is guilty of the same tactics, but PETA’s a damn good example multiple times over.



Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.