John Suthers and George Will: Is weed legalization preferable to medical-marijuana hypocrisy?

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Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has been among the state's most vocal critics of current medical-marijuana policy. So it's no wonder conservative columnist George Will sought him out -- and they apparently got along famously.

In a November 25 entry on his Facebook page, Suthers wrote: "Had breakfast with political analyst George Will. I've admired him for years. We talked medical marijuana and baseball. Fascinating!"

So, too, was the Will column that resulted. The piece simultaneously attacked the "hypocrisy" of Colorado's approach even as it kinda/sorta/in-a-way argued for marijuana legalization. Or maybe not.

Will's weekend column for the Washington Post, entitled (yes, you guessed it) "Rocky Mountain High," salutes Suthers even as it echoes his views about medical marijuana. Here's a key passage:

Customers -- this, not patients, is what most really are -- tell doctors at the dispensaries that they suffer from insomnia, anxiety, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, "chronic pain," whatever, and pay nominal fees for "prescriptions." Most really just want to smoke pot.

So says Colorado's attorney general, John Suthers, an honest and thoughtful man trying to save his state from institutionalizing such hypocrisy.

After filling the body of the op-ed with information like this, however, Will throws a curve at the conclusion:

[Suthers] was pleasantly surprised when a survey of nonusing young people revealed that health concerns did not explain nonuse. The main explanation was the law: "We underestimate the number of people who care that something is illegal."

But they will care less as law itself loses its dignity. By mocking the idea of lawful behavior, legalization of medical marijuana may be more socially destructive than full legalization.

Does that mean Will -- and, by association, Suthers -- would prefer marijuana be legalized, so people who want to use it won't feel the need to cook up a bogus malady capable of convincing the state that they deserve a medical-marijuana card? Doubt it. But Will's decision to broach the subject qualifies as surprising, especially in the context of this particular pair of breakfast buddies.

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