Oct. 20, 2022

610: 10 Years of Legal Recreational Cannabis

On today's episode, I'm joined by Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Amendment 64, which legalized cannabis in Colorado.


On today's episode, I'm joined by Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Amendment 64, which legalized cannabis in Colorado. 

 

A lot has changed since then—and a lot more will change in the next 10 years! 

 

We will be discussing their experience working with the legal cannabis industry in Colorado over the past 10 years, what they've learned along the way, and where they see things going in the future!

 

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Transcript

 

Brian Nichols  0:03  
focusing on winning arguments. We're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. 10 years of legal recreational cannabis is getting rid of all that and war. Hey, they're both grinding, you're on The Brian Nichols Show. Thank you for joining us on of course, another fun filled episode. I am as always your humble host. Joining you Yes, from our lovely lovely Stratus ip Studios here in eastern Indiana. Don't let outdated business technology or cyber attacks and cyber threats put your company at risk. Learn more at the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash Stratus ip or go ahead and get your free Business Technology consultation over at Brian Nichols show.com forward slash Stratus ip Stratus ip Business Technology simplified. All right, folks. So before we go ahead and get on to today's episode, we'll go ahead and give a shout out to one of our phenomenal sponsors. And that is right strategies. Now folks, if you are a folk who's out there running for political office, or if you are a business owner out there trying to help make a difference in the digital landscape. But we have a great opportunity for you for you here and that is joining right strategies, they're going to help you with a proven track record of helping their clients win elections, but also grow their businesses using starts a smart strategic digital marketing, they're going to be a perfect partner to help you reach your goals. Also, with an SMS texting feature from right strategies, you're gonna receive an efficient, affordable and smart way to focus your marketing budget by reaching 10s of 1000s of voters and customers making a powerful impact on the outcome of your elections, but also of your business growth, from social media management to expert graphic design work to marketing your product or campaign or to helping you build your brand, right strategies can put together a plan that makes sense for you and your goals, and do so within your budget. So if you want to learn more about how right strategies can help you win your elections, and grow your business, hence the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash RS and get your free campaign and marketing plan report card. But of course, you got to make sure you let Morgan and her team know that I send you one more time that the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash R s amplifying your message where voters and customers spend their time. All right, folks. So yeah, 10 years of legal cannabis. And it wouldn't be possible without folks like our guest today who are leading the charge, but both when we're talking about from a cultural standpoint, but also from a legal standpoint. With that joining us on the show Mason convert and Brian Vincent De thanks for joining the show, gents.

Brian Vincente  2:41  
Thanks so much.

Brian Nichols  2:42  
Are you guys doing? Thank you for joining us today. What's new in your world?

Brian Vincente  2:46  
Well, we're 10 years into legal cannabis. So that's been very exciting. We just did a big event with the governor, US senator and the Denver mayor to celebrate that milestone here in Colorado. So it's Wow, we're still buzzing off that

Brian Nichols  3:00  
literally and figuratively, 10 years that day, it seems just like yesterday, frankly, that the conversation had really entered into the kind of national fora you have folks on all sides of the aisle who really gotten to a fluster over the past 10 years, it seems. And yet now you fast forward a decade later, and it's kind of normalized, right? We've gotten to the point now where we had the hemp bill, I forget which year that was passed, but that helped legalize Delta eight, delta 10. All these other kind of same church, different pew products. But really, it all started with the work you guys did 10 years ago. So let's kind of set the stage here. Where did this all start? Back when we are trying to get some cannabis legalization? And how did we get to know from where we were to where we are today? Jump ball.

Mason Tvert  3:46  
Brian's older, so he can go ahead.

Brian Vincente  3:47  
Yeah, I'm slightly taller. So I'm going to catch the jump ball. So yeah, both Mason and I started doing work to reform marijuana laws in Colorado and like the early mid 2000s. So this has been it was a long campaign and we had a long way to go. And at that point, we marijuana had been functionally illegal in our country for 80 years. Right. So I started doing a lot of legal work. I'm an attorney representing medical marijuana patients, people with AIDS dying and using medical cannabis being prosecuted. Mason did a ton of wonderful work around like media and educational campaigns, which we'll talk about trying to educate the public on the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol. And adults should be able to use it responsibly. And we kind of ran these campaigns, you know, intensively for about eight years up until 2012, when we were able to place a statewide measure on the ballot to make Colorado the first place in the history of the world to legalize cannabis for adults and set up a regulatory framework. And they did and and and to your point, Brian, you know, we're now 10 years in and there's been a lot of successful metrics along the way, but maybe one of the most important ones is we now have 18 other states that have legal cannabis. So we kind of started the way other states got on board. We also have several countries including Canada that have come on board to legalize care. The best and we'll actually have five states not Indiana, unfortunately, but five other states voting to legalize cannabis this November. So just a couple short weeks.

Brian Nichols  5:09  
Wow, that's pretty darn cool. And here really quick, I'm going to share this screen because I you know, I my favorite platform, it's Twitter. I know, I know, sue me. However, I do have my favorite tweet I ever did and actually went super, super viral. And it was my scary marijuana stats, tweet. Number 180 8000 deaths annually are attributed to excessive use to everyday 30 people in the US die in car crashes that involve a marijuana and a pair of driver. Number three teen marijuana use kills 4700 people per each year number four lol jk those stats are about alcohol to your point, right? That is something that there is such a common misconception that alcohol is safer than marijuana and just the way that we we've I mean just glorified and, and really brought alcohol to be you know, the really common party drug you go to any college campus. And I'd be remiss to find any type of alcohol within at least you know, five square feet of an area. So let's talk about what what's been that, I guess response you guys have seen amazing. Maybe you've experienced this more dealing with the actual, you know, PR side of things, when you have such a ingrain mentality that yeah, alcohol is safer than marijuana. Marijuana is the thing that turns your eggs into a fried egg like Nancy Reagan said,

Mason Tvert  6:23  
Well, yeah, you know, we actually, back in 2005, started an organization called safer, which stood for safer alternative for enjoyable recreation. And the entire message behind the organization was was that cannabis is safer than alcohol. And the whole strategy really was was to educate the public about that simple fact. Because once people understand that, they tend to support making cannabis legal. And at that time, you know, about 15 years ago, only about a third of the American population recognize that cannabis is safer than alcohol, about a third thought they were equally harmful. And a third actually thought alcohol was safer. And over the next seven years of safer work and other work that has taken place around the country, we've seen those numbers change dramatically. And at this point, polling now shows that most Americans do recognize that cannabis is less harmful. But you're absolutely right that that alcohol is very deeply ingrained in our culture as his cannabis. Alcohol has been far more accepted. And it'll be interesting to see the extent to which cannabis is but you know, it's not just that alcohol is, you know, prominent on college campuses. I mean, you know, we live in a city where our professional baseball team plays at Coors Field, right. You know, it's just widely known, widely accepted, state, local governments signed contracts with beer companies and liquor companies that have them as their official vendors. I mean, it'll be interesting to see to what extent that occurs with cannabis, I think that we will see it a bit. But what's interesting is that a lot of folks hold up the alcohol industry, as well as the tobacco industry as reasons why it shouldn't happen with cannabis. And, you know, they say, Well, we made a mistake with alcohol. So let's not do it here. And, you know, if all things were equal, we were talking about taking alcohol names off the wall sports stadiums, then I'd say sure, neither of them should be, you know, promoted that way. But seeing as we are promoting alcohol in this way, I think that it's really bad policy to not allow cannabis to have parity there. I mean, to to basically have official policies that say, alcohol is more acceptable than a less harmful substance. And that that just makes no sense.

Brian Nichols  8:44  
And Brian, talk to us about how difficult I'm sure it must be when you're trying to unwind just, I mean, how many years of convoluted legal garbage, and yet you have to deal with the cultural aspects. We all know politics is downstream downstream from culture. So with that, you can't really get too much political movement until you get people at least on board from that cultural perspective. So I'm sure it must be just like bashing your head against the wall over and over and over again, sometimes when you're having to deal with this process, you know, in the legal aspects. Yeah,

Brian Vincente  9:15  
that's true. I mean, there's a lot of poor of MIS education disinformation, that we had to sort of educate people around, right. And, you know, I've received death threats, both Mason and I have been, you know, pushed around by cops. I mean, it's like there was a very ingrained prohibitionist mentality for years. And, you know, we were able to kind of push back against that. And, you know, a lot of that was just, you know, trying to get the public to think about the fact that cannabis is safer than alcohol for the user trying to show them a face of a medical marijuana patient who says, Hey, I'm just trying to take these pills and cannabis helps with that. Why do I have to go to jail, you know, things like that. And then showing that the regulated medical marijuana market could work in our state and we now have You know, dozens and dozens of states with medical marijuana laws. And once adults begin to they say, wait a second cannabis is being sold from the store and you know, their jaw drops. But then they realize, hey, it's regulated, it's producing jobs, there's tax revenue. And if we can do that, for medical patients, why can't we do that for all kinds of responsible adult consumers? So it was a battle, it took a number of campaigns and efforts and educational efforts over the years. But, you know, we were the public down and we I think, educated on the fact that it's a better path for prohibition of cannabis and be present. Yeah,

Brian Nichols  10:32  
well, we're in we're 10 years in right, a decade now from where you guys started to where we are today. So what's the future look like? And now we're talking about, you know, hopefully seeing cannabis, I guess, as accepted. Can we say it like that as accepted as alcohol? Right, um, but maybe less stigma? Maybe that's more fair. So where do we see things heading maybe over the next 10 years?

Mason Tvert  10:54  
Well, I think we're gonna see, as Brian mentioned earlier, a number of state, additional states passing these laws. So you know, there's five on the ballot this year, there's another one Oklahoma, that's looks like it's gonna be on the ballot early next year. And then this is something that's really being talked about in legislatures around the country. And at this point, it's being talked about in governments at the national level, in countries around the world. And, you know, it's really just a matter of time before we see more normalization of this, we see a broader, more globalized cannabis industry. There's certainly hurdles there when it comes to just here in this country, interstate commerce, and the idea of, you know, having cannabis crossing state lines, much like we have citrus or, you know, vegetables, or meat or anything else, you know, as a commodity, but also the trade with other countries. I mean, there are some smaller countries, you know, countries that have, you know, poor nations that are situated in parts of the world where growing cannabis is, is, you know, they have optimal conditions, and perhaps this is a way for them to have an export that will bring some some additional money into their, into their country. So, you know, it's really just not a question of whether this is going to happen. It's a question of how quickly and with the recent news with President Biden, announcing his pardons have passed cannabis possession, offenders, I think that we're going to start seeing things move even quicker, because that's the top political official in the entire world, basically, the most powerful political official in the world, basically saying it was wrong, to criminalize people for using marijuana. And that begs the question of, you know, should we continue to criminalize people? And, you know, the hope is that that's going to change here very soon.

Brian Nichols  12:53  
Well, a good friend of our show, Shane Hazel, he's running for governor out there in and out in Georgia, against Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. And I think he was the only person really on stage who was making the argument like, why are we putting people in jail for a plant. And I think that's the argument we have to really bring forward is that that's literally what we're doing at this point. And let's take it a step further. Let's look at other natural grown substances like mushrooms, for example, that we see criminalized more often than not, and yet, there are states that are taking steps forward, some as recent as November this year trying to actually legalize mushrooms on the ballot. Talk to us about that, Brian, what's that look like?

Brian Vincente  13:34  
Yeah, I mean, this is a pretty exciting development. You know, it's long been known. And there's a lot of research out there that shows that people that are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or other kinds of serious mental issues can actually get a lot of assistance from you know, natural medicines, whether that be psychedelic mushrooms, or whether that's Ibogaine or mescaline. And these, of course, are substances that have been criminalized for, you know, many, many Jenner, and many, many decades. In our country. Well, fortunately, you know, there's a movement to begin to regulate these products and allow adults to access them in a sort of medical therapeutic atmosphere. And we actually are going to be voting on that here in Colorado statewide. In just about two weeks, so Oregon did this a couple of years ago, Colorado will be the next state to kind of jump on board. And, you know, I think it just shows that the public is sort of expanding their thinking on the drug war and, and beginning to think that, hey, we shouldn't criminalize people for using substances that you know, like just unambiguously assist them with their lives. Yeah,

Brian Nichols  14:36  
well, what I guess where we see in the next 10 years then for that, right, and that's the part that gets you excited, because we talked about this our episode we did yesterday, two days ago, where we're, I think we mentioned when folks see something you can't unsee it right. And this is something that is true. Once you kind of get the I mean, it's a slippery slope, right. Once you kind of start getting the opportunity moving forward, it gets a little bit easier because now people are starting to that more and more like okay, yeah, it's it's a plant. Yeah.

Mason Tvert  15:03  
I think what you're describing is the gateway theory. Okay.

Brian Nichols  15:06  
Yeah, there you go gateway here. Yeah, I don't know about that in dare, right?

Mason Tvert  15:10  
Yeah, that's obviously garbage. But But no, you're absolutely right. I mean, you know, people people are starting to apply the same thinking to cannabis that or excuse me, the psychedelics that they did the cannabis, which, you know, as I was saying with when it came to the work that we were doing leading up to legalization of cannabis, we were highlighting the fact that it was safer than alcohol, because obviously, this is a country that recognizes just naturally recognizes that alcohol prohibition was a failure. So once they know marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, that it's very easy to arrive at the conclusion that prohibition of marijuana is a failure. And now obviously having that, you know, extending that discussion to some other substances, but, you know, it's a bit of a different discussion. So with regards like, where things are heading, you know, it's probably going to be a very different, a different landscape, because these are different substances. And that's, you know, really what the, the point of safer and and all this was different substances should be treated based on their, their different properties and their different potentials for harm and their different, you know, effects. And that means that, while sure cannabis should be, you know, available to adults, much like alcohol and stores, certain psychedelics maybe should only be available through therapeutic settings or with people who are professionals who are able to provide guidance on that, and it shouldn't be just out there at the store in the same way.

Brian Nichols  16:36  
Is that I guess, because it's so different, right? Because when you're going from cannabis to psychedelics, which I mean, they it is quite a big jump, I guess, in terms of what it's actually doing, what the substances are actually doing to you. So in that case, do you think that's gonna be a harder sell than it was for marijuana for cannabis? Or is it going to be, again, more to your point, that argument of Well, no, this is in comparison to what we're using already. That's more dangerous?

Mason Tvert  17:02  
Well, you know, I think the real question is, to what extent the details will be accurately portrayed by the media. And by you know, folks, you're engaged in the public dialogue. I mean, this is an initiative that is very different from what the marijuana legalization initiative look like. This is one that that does not treat it like alcohol. This is one that allows for these therapeutic settings and so on. Yet, we're still seeing it described as legalization, the same way that marijuana was described as legalization, and there are nuances there. And so I think a big question is going to be you know, about how we describe these things, how we talk about them and, and, you know, because even the word legalize I mean, it always frustrated me with with marijuana. I mean, is alcohol legalized? Right? Yeah. If you're 21 or older, and you're in a certain time, a certain place, you know, but it's more than it's regulated. And there's different levels of regulation.

Brian Nichols  18:05  
All right, gents, we're already getting to the part of the show where unfortunately, we have to get ready to wrap things up. So I'd like to go ahead and give you guys both a chance for final thoughts. I guess anything in terms of where you you see things heading, what you want folks to take away from today's episode? Brian, let's start things off with you.

Brian Vincente  18:22  
Yeah, I think I mean, we're at an amazing time in terms of, you know, watching the drug war, you know, to being dismantled in front of our eyes, you know, and the public has finally figured this out, in terms of being 10 years into cannabis legalization. You know, it's just been an unquestioned success in Colorado, it whether from a tax revenue perspective, job production, not having higher youth usage rates, not having people driving high at higher rates. So very, very positive. And then, you know, in terms of the movement around sort of other alternative medicines, including mushrooms, I think we'll see what the voters say on this in November, I feel like it's going to pass. But it's, you know, it's good that we're kind of waking up at a society and realizing that prohibition is not always the right policy, and let's look at alternatives.

Brian Nichols  19:08  
Mason

Mason Tvert  19:11  
Well, you know, what else do you say? You know, I, I really think that I guess what I'll talk about what I'm most hopeful for is to just see a movement towards you know, promoting as these products become more available become legal, also movement towards towards promoting the responsibility when it comes to their use and ensuring you know, these are new things for a lot of people and even, you know, even people who maybe eight brownies with with cannabis in them, you know, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. Products are different. there's constantly new things coming out and you know, whereas with alcohol it's pretty consistent. We know there's liquor, we know there's beer. Now we're starting to see a whole different type of product and different ways of, of being labeled and different. In ways of being able to identify how potent they are, and it's really important that the public keep up with those things, and that they understand these things. And whether it's, you know, understanding what the effects of psilocybin will be if they go to use it in a therapeutic setting, or they understand how an edible will affect them differently from a vape vape pen. I think that, you know, right now, this cannabis industry is really fighting to survive to get its footing to become, you know, to remain legitimate, to eliminate the underground market that still exists, because there's so many other states where it's still illegal. But over time, we're going to see more and more, you know, of a focus on on promoting responsibility among consumers. And, and also, of course, having the rules just honed in to, you know, keep them sensible, because, you know, a lot of them were created as if cannabis is toxic waste and needs to be treated that way. But the rules are getting more sensible in a lot of ways. And we need people to, to wizened up to

Brian Nichols  21:07  
I guess my final thoughts would be, it's so easy to think about, like the recreational side of things, right, because that's, I think that's where a lot of folks instantly gravitate towards. But I think I'm more excited about the folks that this is going to help and the folks that this has already helped back in beginning of 2021, I got the chance to host a panel over it was micro dose as a big annual conference that they do, and to be able to talk to so many folks who are joining that that conference, but also that we had veterans who you tell the stories of not just what cannabis was doing for them, but also using psychedelics and mushrooms and such to be able to facilitate healing and dealing with their their trauma, their PTSD, for example. And that's huge for a vast number of folks here just in America alone. So let's see what we can do that the progress we're making. I think it's important for, as you guys mentioned, to keep that moving forward. And it's awesome, keep doing what we're doing here having these conversations and also celebrating the wins 10 years. It's a big deal. So congratulations to you, gents. We're making a real, long lasting impact here. As we approach the way we talk about drugs. We talk about cannabis and the way we're talking about different substances in the future. So with that being said, obviously want to point folks to where they can go ahead, continue the conversation. So where can folks go ahead? If they want to learn more reach out to you guys, what's the best way to do so?

Brian Vincente  22:29  
Sure, well, they can certainly go to the sensei cedarburg.com. That's the website of the law firm that I run. And we were involved in a lot of these campaigns and happy to help businesses that are in this space or help activists along the way.

Brian Nichols  22:43  
Perfect. All right. And social media for they can find you guys individually.

Mason Tvert  22:49  
I've made the conscious decision to refrain the foray. But I'll just reiterate, you know, I mean, vs strategies is the name of the format. But you know, really the Sunday Cedarburg is, you know, in addition to obviously being able to learn about their services, they are providing a lot of commentary, a lot of analysis on the different laws that are coming out the different regulations that are coming out. So there's a lot of interesting stuff there.

Brian Nichols  23:15  
Perfect. All right. Well, gentlemen, thank you for joining us here on today's episode. And folks, if you got some value, from today's episode, I'm gonna ask you to do me a favor. Number one, go ahead and give today's episode a share. It's an important conversation to share. So when you do please go ahead and tag yours truly at being nickels liberty, share the message. And also you want to help us have amazing guests like Mason, and Brian on the program will do me a favor, go to the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash support and you can become a supporting listener $5 A month over on Patreon. Or you can go ahead and give us a one time PayPal donation over and on PayPal. Yes, I know I still am using PayPal. I know Believe it or not. Well, until they screw me over of course, then we'll have to reconsider. But anyways, that's a conversation for a different day, folks. Thank you for joining us. And by the way, did you check out our awesome conversation we had with Jason Loftus, back on our episode on two or Tuesday? Yes, right, where we talked about his brand new film, it's Canada's entry for the Academy Awards for international best film, Eternal Spring follows the history of the Falun Gong over in communist China and the struggle they face against the the propaganda and what they did to help fight back a great, great story. I'll go ahead and include that link for that episode right here below. Otherwise, folks, that's all I have for you. That being said, it's Brian Nichols signing off. You're on The Brian Nichols Show. We'll see you tomorrow,

Unknown Speaker  24:31  
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Brian Vicente Profile Photo

Brian Vicente

Founding Partner

VS Founding Partner Brian Vicente has been helping marijuana businesses obtain state and local licenses since the inception of the regulated cannabis industry — an industry he has played a significant role in shaping. He has also advised national, state, and local government officials in the development of regulated cannabis markets across the country and around the world, including in Uruguay, the first country in the world to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. In late 2018, newly elected Colorado Gov. Jared Polis selected Brian to serve as a member of his gubernatorial transition team, where he sat on the Economic Development and Labor Committee.

Brian was a lead drafter of Colorado's historic legalization initiative, Amendment 64, and he co-directed the successful campaign in support of it. He also served as chair of the Committee for Responsible Regulation, which coordinated the successful campaign to implement statewide excise and sales taxes on adult-use marijuana in Colorado. Previously, Brian served as executive director of Sensible Colorado, a leading nonprofit organization advocating for medical marijuana patients and providers in Colorado. During this time, he played an integral role in litigation that opened the door for medical cannabis dispensaries to open in the state, as well as the legislative process that resulted in Colorado becoming the first state to establish a regulated system of medical cannabis production and distribution.

Since 2020, Chambers and Partners USA has ranked Brian as one of the top cannabis attorneys in the nation. Additionally, he was recognized by Best Lawyers© from 2021-2023, named a "Cannabis Law Trailblazer" by the National Law Journal in 2018, and has been included in 5280 magazine's list of "Denver's Top Lawyers" every year since 2015. Adding to his impressive list of recognitions, in 2022 he was listed as one of High Times' "Top 100 Influential People in Cannabis" and was recognized as one of Law360's Cannabis MVPs of 2022. Brian has conducted more than 1,000 interviews regarding marijuana policy for national, state, and local media outlets, and he was recognized by The Guardian as "the (cannabis) industry's de facto spokesman."

Brian currently serves as president of the National Hispanic Cannabis Council, a purpose-driven nonprofit organization he helped found in 2021. In 2010, Brian was elected as the first board chair of the National Cannabis Industry Association, which now represents nearly 2,000 member businesses and tens of thousands of cannabis professionals. He is also a member of the DanceSafe Advisory Council, and previously served on the boards of Sensible Colorado, the Harm Reduction Action Center, and the SAFER Voter Education Fund.

Brian received a full merit scholarship to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, during which time he clerked for outspoken social critic, Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane.

IN THE MEDIA
Newsweek, "Hispanic Cannabis Professionals Disucss Opening Doors For Their Community," October 14, 2022
Cannabis Business Times , "Helping Hispanics in Cannabis: 'Let's Get You Involved in this New Economy'," October 13, 2022
Arkansas Advocate, "If Approved, Arkansas' Recreational Marijuana Law Would Be Tightest in U.S.," October 6, 2022
My Cannabis, "Law Firm Vicente Sederberg Makes Two Strategic New Hires," October 5, 2022
Law360, "MVP: Vicente Sederberg's Brian Vicente," October 5, 2022
Westword, "As Prices Drop, Marijuana Growers Want Colorado to Stop Issuing New Licenses," October 3, 2022
Bloomberg, "New York's High Stakes Race for Former Convicts to Lead Legal Pot," September 19, 2022
Pot to Popular, "Establishing Global Cannabis Policy," September 7, 2022
Benzinga Cannabis Insider, "Funding The Future of Cannabis," September 1, 2022
Leaf Retailer, "New D.C. Legislation Offers Easier Access to Marijuana," August 9, 2022

Mason Tvert Profile Photo

Mason Tvert

Partner at VS Strategies

Mason Tvert serves as communications adviser for Vicente Sederberg LLP, and he is a partner at the firm's policy and public affairs consulting affiliate, VS Strategies. He has been working to change public policies and public attitudes surrounding marijuana since 2005, and he has been called "The Don Draper of Pot" by Politico Magazine, "marijuana's top evangelist" by The Boston Globe, and Colorado's "top thinker" in politics and government by The Denver Post. In 2017, he was named one of the "100 Most Influential People in Cannabis" by High Times magazine.

Prior to joining VS Strategies, he served as director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest marijuana policy organization, where he managed strategic communications, media relations, and online outreach in support of its efforts to reform federal, state, and local marijuana laws. While at MPP, he co-directed the successful 2012 initiative campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado and worked on several other state and local campaigns, including the successful legalization initiatives in Alaska, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts. He also coordinated communications efforts that contributed to the adoption of medical cannabis and decriminalization laws in state legislatures around the country.

Previously, Mason co-founded and served as executive director of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), a non-profit organization that laid the groundwork for the successful legalization effort in Colorado — including two successful city initiative campaigns in Denver — and facilitated the passage of cannabis-related student referendums on more than a dozen college campuses. He is a co-author of the book, Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?, and he frequently appears in the media discussing marijuana policy.

IN THE MEDIA
Leaf Retailer, "President Biden to Pardon Marijuana Offenses," October 14, 2022
Marijuana Moment, "Colorado Officials Celebrate 10-Year Marijuana Legalization Anniversary, Including Politicians Who Initially Campaigned Against It," October 12, 2022
President Biden Says It's Time to Change America's Cannabis Laws, "President Biden Says It's Time to Change America's Cannabis Laws," October 7, 2022
Benzinga, "Biden's Pardon for Cannabis Offenders - 27 Reactions From Politicians, Industry Executives And Advocacy Orgs," October 7, 2022
Biden Pardons Thousands of Cannabis Offenses, Takes Steps to Revise Federal Policy, "Biden Pardons Thousands of Cannabis Offenses, Takes Steps to Revise Federal Policy," October 7, 2022
Cannabis Business Executive, "Industry Reacts to President Biden's Announcement," October 7, 2022
Forbes, "Cannabis Pros Applaud President Biden's Decision to Pardon Those Convicted of Federal Marijuana Possession But Add There's More to Be Done," October 7, 2022
FOX 31 KDVR Denver, "Coloradans Weigh In on Biden's Post Possession Pardons," October 6, 2022
Washington Examiner, "Marijuana Black Markets Flourish Despite Legalization," September 15, 2022
High Times, "Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Cannabis Decriminalization Bill," July 27, 2022