UPDATE 2: It's 6:15p ET and I'm going to go ahead and sign off. Thank you to everyone who asked questions, and I apologize if I didn't get to yours.

UPDATE: It's 5p ET and I will be wrapping up soon. I'll be responding to a few more questions that have already been posted, but not answering any new questions. Thank you everyone!

I am the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project — https://www.mpp.org — which has organized several successful efforts to legalize and regulate marijuana for medical and broader adult use. MPP lobbies in state legislatures and Congress, supports state and local ballot initiatives, and educates the public about cannabis and the benefits of ending prohibition. 2016 was a historic year for the reform movement, and we are now working to defend those victories and continue making progress at the state and federal levels. I am also a co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?

Proof: http://imgur.com/wqTMFS5

Comments: 2794 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

NunyaDB1627 karma

AZ voters quashed legalizing recreational use in November. I believe that part of the reason for its failure to pass was that even people who are pro-recreational did not like how the law was structured.

Is it better to pass an imperfect law and tweak later? or should the goal be to have a robust law pass which would require little to no changes after implementation from the get-go?

EDIT: grammar and adding a big Thank you! for taking the time to do this.

MasonTvert1399 karma

I think the AZ initiative would have lost even if every "pro-legalization" voter voted for it. It might have received 49.9% instead of 49.7%, but I don't think it'd have won. The reason it lost is because (1) there was a massively well-funded opposition (spent ~$6 million, which is maybe the second or third most ever spent against a marijuana initiative); (2) a lot of the media outlets were quite slanted in their coverage, including the AZ Republic, which is the largest media outlet in a state with few large outlets; and most importantly, (3) this was the first time it had appeared on the ballot and the media and voters were new to it. There had been no local legalization/adult-use efforts like there had been in CO, WA, CA, MA, etc.

I don't think there is any way to pass a "perfect law" because there is no such thing as a perfect law. It's far too complex an issue and there are far too many viewpoints on it to appease every single person. You also have to factor in the potential for passage. Is a ballot initiative really perfect if it is all but certain to fail?

What we have seen time and time again is that reform is an ongoing process, not a finite solution. As we have seen in Colorado, the initiative laid the foundation and improvements will continue to be made.

Circle_Dot446 karma

Has anyone followed that ~$6million money trail. That seems like a lot of money to piss away on something like this. I would guess that it might be possible that some if not a majority of it cam from those who profit off the black market, especially people south of the border there.

MasonTvert1444 karma

They received a solid chunk of dough from a shady AZ-based pharma company that produces a deadly painkiller and is in the process of developing "pharmaceutical cannabinoids." https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/09/a-maker-of-deadly-painkillers-is-bankrolling-the-opposition-to-legal-marijuana-in-arizona/

misterwizzard1002 karma

I'm from Ohio. How can we keep them from trying to pass bullshit legislation like they tried recently?

To be more specific, they wanted to select a fixed number of 'farmers' in the area and they would be the only sources allowed to supply the dispensaries. These farmers were pre-selected and were close to the group pushing the legislation. They would have been a legal, lawful monopoly and I can only imagine what the prices would have been.

MasonTvert606 karma

The answer to your question is to keep doing what you're doing. Ohio voters clearly thought that initiative was wrong for Ohio, so they voted it down, and in doing so, they sent a message that that type of a proposal isn't going to fly.

I can't imagine anyone would be foolish enough to propose the same thing again. MPP certainly took it into account when we worked with local activists to bring forward a medical marijuana initiative last year. We have never backed laws like the 2015 Ohio initiative, but we took extra precautions to ensure our medical initiative avoided that type of system. I imagine anyone who supports a broader adult-use initiative in the future would also take similar precautions. At least I would hope.

MSGFaithful745 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA.

My question involves workplace drug testing. As you know, many companies continue to do pre-employment drug testing as well as others who will also conduct random testing. In states where marijuana is legalized, we are still seeing that companies are not shifting their drug testing policies; they are still testing for and refusing to hire a person who has ingested a legal substance.

In my opinion, marijuana legalization will not be completely successful unless these policies are changed, and while Congress may be convinced to full legalization, I'm worried about the private companies who will continue to punish their employees for consuming marijuana, even if they do it off company time and do not show up to work high.

So my question is, what are MPP's ideas for changing the workplace drug testing policy?

MasonTvert660 karma

Our position is that employers should treat marijuana similarly to alcohol. Employees should not be punished for responsible off-the-job consumption that does not affect their work. Obviously there are some occupations out there that are more sensitive than others (pilots, electrical workers, etc.), but we already have public policies that address safety-sensitive occupations.

The question is how to bring about such policies. And it's worth noting that different states handle this subject in different ways. For example, some states have laws that prohibit employers from firing employees solely for engaging in a legal activity. Other states do not have such laws and allow employers to fire employees without cause. So it could be the case that this will not be handled as a marijuana-specific issue and just falls under other employment laws. But that's not to say it will result in the fairest outcome. Even in Colorado, which does have such a law that protects employees who engage in legal activities, the courts determined marijuana use is not covered because it is still an illegal activity under federal law.

This subject (employment) is NOT unique to marijuana. Dictating employment policies via public policy is always a politically sensitive subject. Lawmakers know it is touchy and so do advocates and political professionals who work on ballot measures.

That is why, ultimately, I think this is going to be an issue that gets sorted out culturally. It might get addressed legally at times, and we have seen employment protections included in some marijuana policy reforms. But overall, it is just going to be a matter of time before more laws change and the public's attitude changes. For the same reason that most employers would not want to fire good workers (and then recruit and train replacements who may not be as good/experienced) simply for legally using alcohol while they're off the job, most employers are not going to want to go through all of that for employees who legally use marijuana off the job. It simply is not good for business.

The problem is that we still have a lot of people out there who still believe a lot of the old reefer madness and actually think a marijuana user is unfit for employment. But people's attitudes are changing and as the old guard is replaced by people who have more modern views on marijuana, businesses will voluntarily change their policies. Changes in marijuana's legal status will help too — there are surely employers out there who don't care so much about marijuana as they do about having a "lawbreaker" on the payroll. And keep in mind that larger companies with offices/locations in multiple states might want/need to treat all of its employees equally, so they might not make these changes until marijuana laws change in all of those states. Or possibly not until there are federal changes.

When it comes to our work, we want to promote the fairest policies possible. But sometimes it is clear that putting something in a bill or initiative re: employment policies will all but guarantee it's failure. If we believe that will be the case, we oftentimes keep measures silent on the subject because we know it will be something that gets addressed quicker if we make progress. If our goals are to end prohibition and protect employees' rights, but it's clear that including the latter will doom both goals, then it makes sense to address the former. It will then be much easier to address the latter.

Funnybunnyofdoom509 karma

What can I do to legalize marijuana? How can I help? Who can I contact, and what should I ask them? I live in NC.

Edit: added details.

MasonTvert484 karma

Most importantly and at the most basic level, you can talk about the issue, starting with the people closest to you and working your way out to the people furthest from you. Talk to your family members and friends. Make sure they know this issue is important to you and let them know why. I also strongly encourage you to begin by making sure they understand marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol — this is a critical fact that many people still don't know. In the case of opponents, people are more likely to reconsider their long-held beliefs if they are approached by somoene close to them, as opposed to being handed a flyer or seeing an ad.

As for taking things to the next level, find out what's happenign your state. You can do this on our website at https://www.mpp.org/states Find out if there is good or bad marijuana legislation on the agenda this year and then be sure to contact your state legislators about it.

You can also take action at the federal level by contacting your U.S. rep and senator — https://www.mpp.org/federal

Look around online to see if there are any local organizations that have already been formed to work on this issue in your state or city. If there are, try reaching out to them to see how you can get involved.

free_ponies120 karma

I support legalization, but I don't want to do it on the grounds that it is more or less harmful than a legal substance, because that would set the wrong precedent for ending all drug prohibition. It's a matter of personal freedom to commit a victimless crime, not an issue of what is better of worse for your body.

MasonTvert213 karma

Fair enough. Please note I said you should talk about why it's important to you. That could be any number of reasons.

But if your goal is to increase support for legalization, I encourage you to consider why it is that people are opposed it, which 99 times out of 100 is because they believe it poses too much harm to be made legal (be it harm to consumers' health or spirit, harm to non-consumers' around them, or harm to society overall). If you want to convince that person that they should make marijuana legal, you need to address that concern. You don't necessarily need to compare it to alcohol, but that is simply a good basis for comparison given our nation's history with prohibition/repeal and the similarities in the products (i.e. they should be used by adults and not kids, they are part of our culture, they should be used responsibly, etc.). If a person is willing to accept that alcohol should be legal, they will have a heard time coming up with reasons why marijuana — a substance that is objectively less harmful to the consumer and to society — must remain illegal. But as I said, you should make the case you are comfortable making. I'm simply providing my advice for what appears to be the most effective when it comes to shifting people's attitudes.

weibullguy250 karma

Do you feel the efforts to legalize, or at minimum decriminalize, cannabis will become more difficult under the incoming administration especially considering Jeff Sessions' strong anti-drug stance?

MasonTvert300 karma

It is too soon to tell. Based on what we currently know, I think there are just as many reasons to be optimistic about the incoming administration as there are to be pessimistic. That could change. But for now, we're cautiously optimistic.

Sessions is obviously no fan of marijuana and in his ideal world he very well might want marijuana to remain illegal and to roll back the progress that has been made in many states. But it will not be an ideal world for him if he's nominated. It will be a world in which 8 states + DC have already legalized marijuana and 28 states have legalized medical marijuana. A world of very limited enforcement resources, steadily growing support for legalization (among the public and in Congress). A world where hundreds of thousands of people now have jobs that were created by or are partially supported by the legal marijuana industry. Where states and localities have begun to generate millions of tax dollars that they will not want to lose. And it will be a world in which the president, others in his administration, and other key figures in his party have much bigger policy priorities than marijuana.

I think it is very noteworthy that Sessions was asked directly about the conflict between federal and state laws during his confirmation hearing, and he opted to not make any strong statements about wanting to interfere in state laws. He also noted that there was a resources problem when it comes to enforcing these federal laws.

Also, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer was asked about the apparent conflict between Sessions' anti-marijuana stance and Trump's support for medical marijuana and a "leave it to the states" approach. He said that it will be Trump's administration and Sessions knows as well as anyone that he will be implementing Trump's agenda and not his own. See here for the full comment + MPP's reaction to it all — https://www.mpp.org/news/press/statement-re-jeff-sessions-marijuana-comments/

And see here for everything Trump said on the issue during his campaign — https://www.mpp.org/federal/trump-marijuana-policy/

XMike17230 karma

Is there any hope for Texas?

MasonTvert87 karma

YES! We are supporting a comprehensive medical marijuana bill AND a bill that would replace criminal penalties and jail time for simple possession with a civil fine. Both have a great chance of passing this year, so please visit https://www.texasmarijuanapolicy.org/ to learn more about them and contact your legislators today.

aFreeMindHasNoParty223 karma

I'm a felon for $35 dollars worth of weed. My official crime is distribution of thc with the modifier of party to a crime. In Wisconsin this type of felony can be expunged but it needed to be set up at sentencing and it was not. So my question is do you or anyone you know help people in this situation? Kinda seems terrible that I am a felon for the rest of my life, can't find housing, can't find decent jobs, all because I was at a house when weed was sold. Can you help?

MasonTvert122 karma

I wish I could but that sounds like something you'd need to talk about with an attorney in your state. I'm just a lowly non-attorney spokesperson...

I'm very sorry to hear about your situation and I'm sorry I cannot do more to help. I wish you the best with whatever approach you take to overcoming it and assure you MPP is doing everything it can to prevent these cases from occurring.

Bleda412212 karma

Do you believe in legalizing other drugs or plants, such as psilocybin mushrooms or mescaline containing cacti?

MasonTvert481 karma

MPP works exclusively on marijuana policy, so professionally I don't get into addressing those substances.

Personally, I believe the use of any substance should be treated as a health issue and not a criminal justice issue. I think all substances should be treated based on their relative effects and potent for harm. In other words, I don't think it's a legal-vs-illegal situation — it's a lot more complex with different approaches to different substances.

impboy128 karma

What's your battle plan if we get the worst-case scenario and Sessions-Trump goes on the attack? Has the MPP drawn out possible outcomes for the incoming administration and what is the most likely path MPP think they'll take, given what you know now and are hearing from Capitol Hill?

MasonTvert37 karma

See my earlier reply about Sessions/Trump.

While we're cautiously optimistic, we certainly aren't taking anything for granted. Our efforts are currently focused on preventing the "worst-case scenario," but we will be ready to shift gears should shit go down.

There are a wide variety of different scenarios that could play out, both in terms of what the administration does and how others react to it (i.e. members of congress, state/local officials, the media, etc.). So we aren't able to prepare detailed plans. But we have been working for decades to build support among citizens, members of Congress, state and local officials, and others, and we'd certainly put as much of that political capital to use as we can to fight back.

Dildobagggins106 karma

I live in New York, a state that prides itself on being progressive, and the people, for the most part, are. New York has always been way behind the curve on drug laws such as the Rockefeller laws. While the majority of its citizens most likely support legalization, the politicians stubbornly drag their feet on the issue. A: is this due to money in politics (tobacco, alcohol, prison) or is it something else? B: what can be done to speed the process up?

Also, a year or two ago NY was in the process of issuing 5 permits to grow medical marijuana. The permits cost $200,000 if I remember correct. Is this a common occurance where the state eliminates competition from local farmers by placing fees so high that only corporations can afford them?

MasonTvert62 karma

I did a little work on the final push in NY but was not involved in the lobbying or any closed door meetings, so I can't say for certain what the hold-up was. I can pretty confidently say I do NOT think the delay in NY's adoption of a medical program was directly related to direct lobbying by tobacco/alcohol/prisons or other industries. I think it is just a prime example of how tricky the legislative process can be, especially on a "controversial" issue like this. It always amazes (and infuriates me) when I hear about situations when a majority of voters and even a majority of legislators support something, but it gets held up by a key legislator (oftentimes someone in leadership or a committee chair). Sometimes it's the threat of a veto from a governor, which I believe was an issue at one point in NY.

I think the limited number of licenses and the delay in getting a bill passed/signed are symptoms of the same ailment: the antiquated views of some key people. They ended up passing an exceptionally conservative law because that was the only way to get those key people to sign off on it.

Fortunately, it seems like NY is slowly moving in the right direction with expanding the number of conditions covered and the number of medical professionals who can write recommendations. And slowly but surely the patient numbers will grow, followed by the demand for regulated medical marijuana. At the same time, officials will continue to become more familiar with and confident in the system, leading to continued improvements and greater access.

rickmuscles102 karma

What's the best way to lobby for decriminalization while maintaining your privacy?

MasonTvert88 karma

This is a great question. I spent countless hours collecting signatures for ballot initiatives in Colorado and frequently came across people who were supportive but feared signing because they feared their employer would find out or that it would somehow become public. I even remember a few saying their husband/wife would kill [them] if they found out!"

Sometimes it was obvious that the person was misguided or just didn't want to stop (e.g. the person who said "I'm a lawyer and I'll be disbarred if I sign," which any lawyer would know is bullshit). But sometimes it was obvious that they were truly worried. People who were on probation or parole or who know their employer is incredibly strict about marijuana, who fear they will be suspected of using marijuana and subjected to a drug test if someone saw them signing or saw their name on the sheet while signing.

Ultimately, I would just encourage you to do whatever you are comfortable doing. Maybe you aren't comfortable being at a public event handing out literature, but maybe you would be okay with dropping it on doorsteps or placng it on car windshields in the evenings. If you aren't comfortable talking to the people you know, maybe stick to strangers by participating in a phone bank where you're calling random people. If it's a campaign, perhaps they need assistance with data entry, licking envelopes, or coordinating other volunteers?

saucedog85 karma

While some states have taken steps to fully decriminalize personal possession of marijuana, I'm under the impression at least some municipalities (Houston, for example) are doing something similar in conflict with the laws of the state where the city resides. How many other cities are doing this? Is there significantly more decriminalization in the US right now even past the handful of states that have already legalized it?

Thanks for your work -- ending the Drug War is the single most important societal change we can make.

MasonTvert65 karma

You are correct that there are a lot of efforts taking place at the local level to roll back prohibition. The extent to which this can be done often depends on the states' laws. Here's a recent article about this that touches on several cities that have taken action — http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/11/04/marijuana-decriminalization-cities-vs-states/66414/

Oftentimes states do not allow for significant changes to take place at the local level. For example, in some states, such as TX, they are basically giving law enforcement the ability to opt out of enforcing harsh possession penalties. The localities still have the ability to enforce the harsh penalties, but they no longer are required to enforce the harsh penalties.

This can be effective if you have good local officials who recognize the foolishness of such harsh penalties. But in some cases you do not. Take Denver, for example. Back in 2005 we passed an initiative that gave the city the ability to stop arresting adults for simple possession, but they CHOSE to continue enforcing the state possession law.

But we are seeing an increase in good local officials taking action. Philadelphia is a good example.

Another important aspect of these local reforms is the impact they have on public attitudes. We ran the local ballot initiatives in Denver in 2005 and 2007 with the primary goal of forcing a public dialogue about the issue. When these measures are on local ballots, they generate media coverage that fosters important conversations. They are also good organizing tools. And if you look at the states where a lot of these local measures were first passed, you can see how they contributed to bigger-picture changes over time. For example, Seattle passed a lowest law enforcement priority measure in 2003, and several cities around California adopted them around 2004-2006. Denver, Breckenridge, and Nederland passed local measures in Colorado leading up to legalization. Several localities in Mass. passed non-binding referenda questions over several years prior to legalization. Several Michigan cities have passed local measures, and it's quite possible that state will be up next to pass a legalization initiative (2018).

jordy132776 karma

What is the primary difference between your group, MPP, and NORML? Do your organizations collaborate?

MasonTvert94 karma

NORML has a smaller staff and a large network of state, local, and campus chapters all over the country, which are largely organized by volunteers.

MPP has a larger staff but does not have chapters. At the state/local level, we work with a variety of volunteer activists and organizations, which includes NORML chapters/members/leaders. NORML has also rallied its network to support a lot of the initiative campaigns MPP has organized, and at times contributes to the drafting process for initiatives and bills MPP is supporting.

On a personal level, former MPP staffer Steve Fox and I co-authored a book with NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. And since Paul is the most knowledgable person I know when it comes to cannabis facts/research, I often turn to him as resource or forward reporters his way when they're seeking experts.

marenjoyce34 karma

Do you think it's possible to sell adult use legalization to a GOP legislature? If so, what do you think is the best approach to that with messaging?

MasonTvert73 karma

Yes, but it is certainly a bigger challenge than in a state with a more Dem-leaning legislature. Many of the GOP-run legislatures still have not passed comprehensive medical marijuana legislation or decriminalized simple possession (removed threat of jail time), so those are probably better places to start. This is not because they are a "Trojan Horse" for broader legalization, as some of our opponents often claim. Rather, it is because they are the most egregious elements of marijuana prohibition with the most obvious answers. If the majority of a legislature has yet to agree that seriously ill people should be allowed to access medical marijuana without fear of being punished, or that someone possessing a couple grams of marijuana should not face time in jail and all the collateral consequences associated with a conviction, they probably aren't going to be ready to agree to broader reform.

The discussion about medical is a good opportunity to talk about the benefits of marijuana and to dispel a lot of the myths. The discussion about decrim is a good opportunity to talk about the harm caused by prohibition, the relative safety of marijuana compared to legal products like alcohol, and the fact that marijuana prohibition is more harmful than marijuana itself. These conversations will help break down opposition, and while they might not convert every legislator to a supporter of broader legalization, they could reduce their degree of opposition.

When it comes to a legislature that is actually willing to consider the issue of broader legalization, it should be made clear that this is just as "conservative" of a proposal as it is a "liberal" one. We're talking about ending a failed government program. It is inefficient and wasteful. It harms public safety by using law enforcement resources to enforce failed prohibition laws, which could otherwise be used to prevent and respond to serious crimes. At the federal level, it's a national security issue. Prohibition is contributing to border violence and propping up cartels. These are all arguments that Republicans should appreciate. And of course there's the civil liberties aspect — the government should not be punishing adults who use marijuana responsibly and cause no harm to others.

lethal_defrag33 karma

What are the biggest obstacles in non-medical states vs medical states? Do you guys shoot straight for legalization, or first medical, followed by legalization?

MasonTvert34 karma

Outdated perceptions of marijuana held by the public and/or their legislators are the biggest obstacles both to medical and adult use laws. There are still too many people who think marijuana is more harmful than it actually is. As for the order in which laws tend to get passed, here's what I mentioned earlier about why medical laws and decriminalization measures passing prior to broader legalization:

This is not because they are a "Trojan Horse" for broader legalization, as some of our opponents often claim. Rather, it is because they are the most egregious elements of marijuana prohibition with the most obvious answers. If the majority of a legislature has yet to agree that seriously ill people should be allowed to access medical marijuana without fear of being punished, or that someone possessing a couple grams of marijuana should not face time in jail and all the collateral consequences associated with a conviction, they probably aren't going to be ready to agree to broader reform.

cheesemonk6632 karma

Thanks for taking some time to do an AmA.

With the DEA recently reclassifying CBD as schedule 1 do you think that they are a large obstacle to legalization? If so do you think that the organization can be re-structured or does it need to be abolished/replaced?

How do you recommend approaching the subject of marijuana being safe with more socially conservative people?

MasonTvert47 karma

This was a totally misreported story. The DEA's recent action has NO effect on the legality of CBD under federal law. The DEA has always considered CBD to be a Schedule I substance.

This was not an announcement/response regarding a rescheduling petition and it was in no way a reflection of any kind of process to determine if CBD has medical value. As I mentioned above, the DEA has always classified CBD under Schedule I, so they have never recognized its medical value and still do not recognize it.

This was simply an announcement of a final rule creating a new source code for "marihuana extracts" (7350). "Marihuana" (7360), THC (7370), and CBD (7372) all have their own unique source codes already. We believe they were in fact doing this to better comply with international treaties and could be anticipating a need to have a separate source code for extracts if and when they register more entities to grow marijuana for research. In other words, this might be the first time we have ever believed the DEA's stated intentions for taking an action related to marijuana.

As for the DEA's fate, it's very difficult to imagine the agency would be entirely abolished any time soon. It's quite possible that marijuana could be removed from its jurisdiction, which is what would happen under Congressman Jared Polis's proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. It would move marijuana from the DEA to the ATF.

It does appear Congress's appetite for spending on DEA marijuana efforts is growing smaller. They see state laws changing and public opinion shifting, and they are questioning the efficacy of things like the DEA's marijuana eradication program. Hopefully that trend will continue this year.

--liveitup21 karma

What marijuana stocks should i be investing in now before another legalization boom happens?

MasonTvert19 karma

I'm not in the marijuana business, so I can't help you invest in marijuana stocks. But I am in the legalization boom business, so I can help you invest in making those stocks go up. See here for details— https://www.mpp.org/donate

EchoZeroEleven20 karma

What is the goal of the MPP? Decriminalize marijuana? Limited use of marijuana?

What policies would be ideal for marijuana use, according to MPP?

Thanks for your time.

MasonTvert65 karma

Our goal is to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol for adult use and available for medical use to those who could benefit from it. We support reasonable, evidence-based policies that treat marijuana use as a public health/safety issue rather than as a law enforcement issue. We support comprehensive reforms, such as initiatives/bills to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult and/or medical use. We also support incremental reforms that reduce the harm caused by prohibition, such as legislation that reduces penalties for (but does not go as far as legalizing) possession.

Decaposaurus19 karma

What is the best argument to make for marijuana when talking with someone who is very sternly against it? Living in Tennessee, I know quite a few people who are simply ignorant to the facts and refuse to accept them when they are brought up. What can I say to them that might set off a light in their head and make them rethink what they previously thought was true?

MasonTvert11 karma

Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. See https://www.amazon.com/Marijuana-Safer-Driving-People-Drink/dp/1603585109/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383084981&sr=1-1

CertifiedPreOwned16 karma

Is it a goal of yours to put non-tax paying drug dealers out of business? I've always felt like that, personally, was one of the best things about legalizing Marijuana.

MasonTvert26 karma

Yes, in some sense. Our goal is to improve public health and public safety. We know that prohibition causes more harm to consumers and to society than marijuana itself. Therefore, we think cannabis needs to be regulated in a fashion that eliminates those prohibition-related harms (violence, uncontrolled products, consumer exposure to the underground market, etc.) while mitigating the potential harm associated with the substance itself. Unfortunately, this is not an entirely black-and-white situation — just as replacing prohibition with a regulated system will put a violent trafficker out of business, it might also put a good-hearted local dealer out of business. (Of course it's hoped the latter will find a place in the regulated system, be it as a business owner, a store manager, a grower, a budtender, etc.). Ultimately, we want to produce a system in which cannabis can be produced, distributed, sold, purchased, and consumed safely. That means replacing the illegal market, which attracts criminal elements and often causes harm, with a regulated and controlled market.

rickmuscles12 karma

Are there any specific private companies that you believe will benefit from marijuana legalization?

MasonTvert11 karma

Obviously there are the ones directly involved in the production and sale of marijuana (retailers, cultivators, product manufacturers, etc). There are also a ton involved in providing services or products to those companies (e.g. consultants/accountants/attorneys/contractors; real estate professionals/developers; testing facilities; producers/retailers of packaging, POS/tracking systems, growing supplies, etc.).

BuzzDykeYear12 karma

What is MPP doing to add retroactive ameliorative relief into bills in states that want to legalize? In my opinion, legalization means nothing if we can't make up for past wrongs done to people who shouldn't have been in prison in the first place.

MasonTvert11 karma

This is a complex legal issue and it's my understanding that there aren't a lot of clear-cut solutions that can be applied across the board in every state. There are also political questions associated with it.

Generally, our mission is to end these prohibition laws ASAP so that we can stop the bleeding and prevent this type of retroactive relief from ever being necessary. While it would be great to include such relief would be great, it is often a lot more difficult than it seems and raises significant legal and political issues that can prevent the law from passing (meaning people not only get retroactive relief, but people will continue getting busted and need relief later).

In these cases, it often makes more sense to pass the law and address the retroactive relief situation after. It is not as if these legalization initiatives are the one and only chance or even the most effective way to provide such relief. But once marijuana is a legal product, that is an issue that can be addressed and it also seems like one that will be easier to address. For example, in Colorado, there were no retroactive elements included in the initiative, but the legislature began looking at the subject immediately after the initiative passed.

Our director spent some time behind bars for cultivation and based on my experience, all of our staff members primarily motivated by the human rights, social justice, and criminal justice reform aspects of this issue. So it is very frustrating when we get accused of being insensitive on this subject because a particular initiative does not include a retroactive component. We all care just as much as anybody, and we are simply taking what we believe is quickest and most effective approach to ending the harms of prohibition, both past and future.