Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

John Suthers wants states to control health care -- when it doesn't involve medical marijuana

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers will debate attorney Rob Corry at noon today at the University of Denver. The subject? Medical marijuana.

Here's an opening question for Suthers: Why does Colorado's AG think this state's legalization of medical marijuana -- approved by the voters back in 2000 -- violates federal law, when he signed on to the lawsuit arguing that the new national health-care bill violates the Constitution because it does not respect states' rights?

Suthers is one of now fifteen attorneys general who've joined together in a lawsuit challenging the new health-care law, arguing that it violates this provision in the 10th Amendment of the Constitution: "Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

So the states are in charge of health care -- so long as it doesn't involve medical marijuana? As Suthers recently told Michael Roberts, he considers Colorado's dispensaries "a violation of federal law -- and it's up to the federal government to say whether they want to expend resources to prosecute them. Right now, they're saying we shouldn't expend those resources, but that could change. Someone else could become president, for example, and that person could say, 'We're going to enforce the federal law.'"

Just as a president might want to enforce the national health-care bill signed into law last month.

The debate runs from noon to 1 p.m. today in room 190 of the Ricketson Law Building at the University of Denver, 2255 East Evans Avenue. It's free -- and expect the discussion to be very free-wheeling.

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.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun