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Group wants pot in airport lounges

By Felisa Cardona

The Denver Post

Marijuana proponents want to know why federal officials continue to allow people to use alcohol on airplanes, but won't allow pot smoking in the lounges at Denver International Airport.

"Does it make sense to allow adults to use a drug that causes problems on airplanes and not allow them to use one that does not cause problems on airplanes?" asked Mason Tvert, executive director of Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation.

SAFER held a press conference on Tuesday outside the offices of the Federal Aviation Administration in Denver to propose a solution to the rash of in-flight disturbances on airplanes over the last year.

Last week, a New York woman, Christina Szele, was arrested after she started smoking in her JetBlue airline seat and punched a flight attendant who stepped in to stop her. Her plane, enroute to San Francisco from New York, was diverted to Denver because of the situation.

And in the last few months, DIA has been a hot spot for arrests of drunken, unruly airplane passengers.

Tvert argues that marijuana alleviates anxiety for people who are afraid to fly and that passengers could use pot in the smoking lounges at the airport as a safer alternative to alcohol.

DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon said he does not foresee marijuana smoking in the airport.

"Marijuana is illegal isn't it?," he said. "All the bars and restaurants are concessions and they sell what they sell. I do not know that we are going to tell them what they can sell. Alcohol is legal and tobacco is legal and marijuana is not."

Tvert said he doesn't have a problem with alcohol being sold in airports, he just wants people to have another option, which he believes is more sensible, available to them when they are flying.

"It just goes to show how brainwashed they are," Tvert said. "Alcohol and pills are perfectly acceptable, but they have a problem with marijuana being available in any way, shape or form. God forbid you use a drug that is proven less harmful than both of them."

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