DENVER—Mason Tvert has a new secret weapon in his battle to legalize marijuana in Colorado: moms and dads.
A pro-legalization group, Moms and Dads for Marijuana Regulation, unveiled a new billboard at a press conference Thursday near Sports Authority Field at Mile High that features a father asking for marijuana regulation to help keep the drug out of his teenage son’s hands.
“Please, card my son,” the billboard reads. “Regulate the sale of marijuana and help me keep it out of his hands.”
At the press conference, campaign officials said that legalizing and regulating marijuana is more likely to keep pot out of the hands of children and teens than leaving distribution of the drug to illegal dealers and the black market.
“One of the biggest reasons we hear all the time is that they’re trying to save children by keeping marijuana illegal, and I don’t believe that works,” Georgia Edson, Co-chair of Moms and Dads for Marijuana Regulation, said. “I believe education is the answer and I believe regulation is the answer.”
Fellow co-chair Jason Thomas also believes that regulating marijuana sales will keep drug-related crime down.
“Taxing and regulating marijuana will significantly curtail drug cartels and illegal drug markets,” Thomas, a former Colorado police officer, said. “We won’t be able to totally get rid of illegal drugs, but we’ll be able to reduce the cartels’ market share.”
Moms and Dads is an offshoot of the Yes on 64 campaign, known as the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. The effort is headed by Tvert, who was the driving force behind a prior attempt to legalize marijuana for adults in Colorado in 2006, which was defeated by a margin of 59 to 41 percent.
If passed, Amendment 64 would make Colorado the first state to legalize marijuana for non-medical purposes. A similar ballot measure failed in California in 2010, but Tvert remains optimistic about the initiative’s chances in Colorado.
“This is 2012, not 2010, and this is Colorado, not California,” Tvert said. “It’s a presidential election year, and Colorado is a swing state. There’s going to be a huge push to get voters registered, which helps us. Marijuana initiatives do better in presidential years, when you have more voters.”
Smart Colorado, a group formed to oppose Amendment 64, claims that legalizing marijuana will give teens more access to the drug.
“Kids nationwide report that alcohol and tobacco are much more easy for them to access than pot. Why? Because pot is illegal,” Laura Chapin, a spokeswoman for Smart Colorado, said. “Parents have enough problems trying to keep alcohol away from their children, and they do not need the increased burden of keeping them away from pot as well.”
According to No on 64’s website, suspensions and expulsions in Colorado public schools have increased since the medical marijuana boom in 2009.
“Marijuana use has increased among teens in Colorado, and Amendment 64 would only accelerate that increase,” Chapin said. “That’s why so many parents are opposed to 64 and will vote no.”
Under Amendment 64, marijuana would be regulated very similarly to alcohol. Citizens 21 years or older would be allowed to posses or consume up to one ounce of marijuana.