Attorney General John Suthers wants to put the medical-marijuana genie back in the bottle

While officials in specific municipalities have weighed in frequently about Colorado's medical-marijuana law in light of the current dispensary boom, plenty of state officials have done their best to skirt this weed patch of an issue thus far -- creating a vacuum for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who has taken up the cause in a big way. But during his appearance on KHOW's Caplis and Silverman yesterday afternoon, he leavened his calls for new regulation with an acknowledgment that a growing number of folks may prefer fewer rules to more of them.

Suthers noted that he opposed the medical-marijuana law that passed nine years ago, warning at the time that the legislation was written so broadly that it could cause the very type of confusion about what's allowed and what's not that's come to pass in recent months. Likewise, he argued that the goal of advocates has always been the legalization of marijuana for all uses, not just the medical kind. What he's not sure of today, though, is whether the majority of Colorado voters now back the lifting of all pot sanctions.

He certainly doesn't. He talked up crimes at dispensaries without making reference to specific incidents -- although he did say that some clients apparently don't like to pay for their ganja. He also used the old gateway argument, maintaining that drug abusers he's spoken with who began smoking marijuana (and drinking alcohol) around age twelve or thirteen were often riding the meth pony five years down the line. He also touched on various remedies, ranging from a tightening of dispensary guidelines by state legislators to a ballot measure that could do the reps' job for them.

As for marijuana legalization, he pointed to the example of Alaska, which he said tightened up edicts that had previously been loosened after noticing a rise in assorted social ills. He hopes Colorado residents won't have to learn the same hard lessons, but he admitted that such an outcome is possible. Just not preferable -- at least from his point of view.

Smoke on that.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts