Colorado marijuana legalization leader Mason Tvert is leaving his role with the Marijuana Policy Project on Friday to join the well-known Denver-based cannabis consulting firm VS Strategies.
Tvert spent the last five years with MPP following the success of Amendment 64 in 2012, when Colorado voters approved legal retail marijuana with 55 percent of the vote. Tvert was a co-author and lead proponent of the measure.
Tvert will join VS Strategies as vice president of public relations and communications. He served as the director of communications for MPP, the nation's largest marijuana policy organization, which is working on pushing legalization on the national level.
In addition to Colorado, Tvert worked on successful legalization initiatives in Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Tvert also worked on a handful of legalization efforts in legislatures.
It was in Colorado where Tvert gained national notoriety, fearlessly organizing legalization efforts on the local and statewide levels. He appeared unafraid to take on high-profile legalization opponents, often appearing in spirited debates with marijuana critics, including Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, then the state's attorney general.
Tvert also found himself challenging Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, pushing back against Hickenlooper's hesitations over supporting marijuana legalization. Tvert helped push the coordinated campaign message that marijuana is safer than alcohol, repeatedly pointing to Hickenlooper's business roots as a brewery owner.
Tvert in 2005 co-founded Colorado-based Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, or SAFER, which helped launch legalization ballot efforts in Colorado. What began as efforts on college campuses was soon taken to Denver, where the group pushed successful marijuana decriminalization initiatives.
It was during his time at SAFER that Tvert helped cultivate the "Marijuana is safer: so why are we driving people to drink?" message.
At VS Strategies, Tvert will lead a communications push around government relations and issue advocacy. The firm serves cannabis businesses, industry associations, ballot initiative campaigns, nonprofits, and others seeking to shape marijuana policy and opinion.
The lobbying and public affairs firm is affiliated with well-known Denver-based marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg. Its consulting arm is directed by Steve Fox, along with Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg, who all played leading roles in drafting Colorado's historic Amendment 64. The principles also assisted in crafting rules and regulations that govern the burgeoning industry, which have become a national model.
"I am thrilled to be formally reuniting with Mason to continue our work to reshape the image of cannabis and advance marijuana policy reform," Fox said. "To say that he is a cannabis communications expert is frankly understating his value."