Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER and co-author of the book, Marijuana is Safer takes the podium at Missouri Southern State University to promote his ideology.
Photos by Vince Rosati
Students from Missouri Southern State University almost fill an auditorium on campus to listen to the talk about recreational marijuana use.
"Students for a Sensible Drug Policy" was the topic of a talk last night at Missouri Southern State University by Mason Tvert, a Colorado resident and staunch advocate for relaxing the penalties for possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Tvert in his attempt to empower students to join the debate spent a great deal of time presenting arguments justifying the use of marijuana over alcohol, both drugs, but one that carries what he considers an unjust penalty for possession.
While Tvert described marijuana and alcohol as both intoxicants, he concluded that marijuana use was safer. And that is the premise of his book that he co-authored with Steve Fox and Paul Armentano, Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green Publishing, 8/24/09).
Quite a few hands in the audience shot up after Tvert asked them who would fess up to injuring themselves while drinking. "You are a pretty agreeable audience," he said, referring to their belief that drinking had its negative aspects.
"Should alcohol be illegal?" Tvert asked and he answered his own question with, "absolutely not." But his intent to make comparisons between alcohol use and marijuana use was apparent after he cited statistics from the Center for Disease Control that equated 35,000 deaths yearly of patients with breast cancer exacerbated by alcohol use. He claimed that zero such deaths could statistically be attributed to the use of marijuana. And he enumerated the number of diseases whose ill effects might be lessened through its use.
He further denigrated the use of alcohol by referring to its users' aggressive behaviors that are attributed to date rape on college campuses and unsafe driving habits. Marijuana users drive " 10 miles per hour slower when stoned," he said, although suggesting that it wasn't a good idea to smoke pot and drive and even that marijuana wasn't for everyone.
"I understand that you have a dry campus. Sorry to hear about that," Tvert told the audience, defining himself as by no means a teetotaler. (He was, after all, a frat boy from the University of Colorado.) He went on to point up the hypocrisy of such a regulation when the book store sold shot glasses with the school name on it. He also criticized signs that referred to the amount of drinks consumed by students on average and said that their innuendo was that "the non-drinker doesn't fit it."
Regarding talk about lowering the drinking age to decrease drinking, Tvert seemed to suggest that it would do the opposite. "The so-called alcohol epidemic on college campuses," he said, "depends upon how one defines 'epidemic.'"
Tvert lamented that "people face so many consequences with marijuana use" and listed a criminal record, loss of financial aide, inability to adopt children, failure to be hired and in the case of Missouri Southern, eviction from the dorms. Tvert wants to see less lives damaged by taking the stigma away from pot users--by lessening the numbers arrested and convicted for marijuana's recreational use.