I can’t believe it’s been ten years since S.A.F.E.R. was launched. They are trying to crowd fund $5,000 to throw an anniversary party, and they are very close. More information is below. Click here to donate:
In January 2005, Steve Fox and Mason Tvert set out to change the culture in Colorado. They did so by launching the SAFER campaign and relentlessly promoting the message that marijuana was less harmful than alcohol. Through campus initiatives, citywide and statewide ballot initiatives, and all kinds of creative stunts, SAFER generated hundreds of television news stories and countless articles — all conveying the “marijuana is safer than alcohol” message. It was, arguably, the most strategic and successful pro-marijuana campaign in history. It is no coincidence that Colorado is now leading the world into a new era of cannabis acceptance.
On January 30th, SAFER is celebrating its 10 year anniversary and we need your support to get this non-profit the money it needs to celebrate appropriately. The money raised will go towards securing an event space, a band, food and beverages for guests and to produce a very memorable video production memorializing SAFER’s history and successes.
Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) is a non-profit organization based in Denver, Colorado. The SAFER campaign was initially launched in Colorado on the campuses of the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) and Colorado State University (CSU) in response to the alcohol overdose deaths of CSU sophomore Samantha Spady, 19, and 18-year-old CU freshman Lynn “Gordie” Bailey. SAFER, led by Mason Tvert, argued that students should not be punished more severely for using marijuana – which is incapable of causing death by overdose—than for using the potentially fatal (and for many college students legal) drug alcohol.
The pilot project took off quickly. Within months, organizers had coordinated and passed student referendums at both campuses. These referendums called on the universities to make the penalties for the use and possession of marijuana no greater than the penalties for the use and possession of alcohol. Under Colorado state law prior to 2013, having an ounce of marijuana or less is punishable by a $100 fine but no jail time.
In the summer of 2005, SAFER leaders decided to run a citywide marijuana legalization initiative in Denver, Colorado called the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative. The proposed initiative (I-100) would have made the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for individuals 21 and older under city ordinances. After a campaign in which the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol were repeatedly highlighted, the initiative passed November 1, 2005 by a 53.5% to 46.5% margin. The initiative also made possession of marijuana by those under 18 punishable by fine only.
In December 2005, the SAFER Voter Education Fund announced that it would be supporting a statewide ballot initiative campaign in Colorado to make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal under state law. Again, the main argument of the campaign was that Colorado residents should not be forced to use alcohol rather than marijuana when they want to unwind or have fun. On a shoestring budget, SAFER managed to collect approximately 70,000 valid signatures and qualified the initiative for the November 2006 ballot. This forced the issue onto the front pages of the newspapers and the top of television news programs. Mason even had the opportunity to debate Attorney General John Suthers on network television. The campaign, as expected, came up short on Election Day, but the mission of forcing Coloradans to think about the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol was accomplished.
Fast forward to 2012… The SAFER campaign was incorporated into the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the committee behind Amendment 64 in Colorado. Mason served as co-director of the campaign (along with Brian Vicente, the other co-director) and continued to push the SAFER message in billboards, online, and in the media. When Election Day came around, it was apparent that the goal of the SAFER campaign had been achieved. A strong majority of voters were no longer afraid of marijuana and had accepted it as a sensible alternative to alcohol. Colorado was, and always will be, the first state in the nation to make the production, distribution, possession, and home cultivation of marijuana legal.