Marijuana: Mason Tvert hopes AG John Suthers isn't hyping MMJ ban, his office says he's not

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The continuing war of words between marijuana advocate Mason Tvert and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers shows no signs of ebbing.

The latest? Tvert hopes Suthers isn't implicitly campaigning for a medical marijuana ban in Eagle County at an event slated for this evening.

As we reported on October 31, Suthers reviewed a letter written by former Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division head Dan Hartman that took what most observers perceived as a pro-MMJ industry stance. Suthers, a well-known critic of the current retail system, determined that the letter wasn't illegal, but it was unethical.

This assertion stunned Tvert, among the main proponents of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012. After all, he maintained that Suthers had actively campaigned against a marijuana initiative in 2006, writing op-eds in support of opponents. For that reason, he demanded that Suthers sign an ethics pledge promising not to speak out against Regulate.

In response, Suthers spokesman Mike Saccone wrote the following via e-mail:

"We understand why the legalization proponents are attempting to garner press through a publicity stunt. But what their press release and pledge overlook is a critical distinction between the Attorney General and the source of the column at issue. The Attorney General is a statewide elected official with broad responsibilities versus the head of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, a civil servant whose job it is to be a neutral regulator of an industry. The Attorney General believes that it is problematic for a regulator to be choosing sides in a local election that affects a business that he and his agency collect fees from and oversee.

"The legalization proponents are free to disagree with the Attorney General. But their complaint glosses over the difference between two public officials in very different circumstances."

Cut to this evening, when Suthers is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion entitled "How do you feel about the impact of medical marijuana on youth?" at the Eagle County Building just weeks before a January 3 election that could impose a ban on the Town of Eagle's sole dispensary.

Tvert doesn't see the timing as coincidental. "With a local ballot measure just around the corner, we hope Attorney General Suthers will remain 'ethical' during tonight's forum and refrain from taking a position on how that community ought to handle medical marijuana businesses," he writes via e-mail. "He should also keep an eye on the local law enforcement officer sitting next to him" -- Eagle County Undersheriff Mike McWilliam, another scheduled panelist -- "to ensure the unelected civil servant doesn't engage in any behavior the Attorney General believes is 'unethical.'"

To that, Saccone stresses that Suthers is not campaigning in favor of the ban in his appearance this evening. Rather, he simply accepted the invitation of the sponsoring group, the Eagle Valley High School Devils Against Drinking and Drugs, to discuss an issue of importance to citizens across the state. He also suggests that Tvert is once again trying to garner publicity by attacking perfectly ethical actions by the attorney general.

For additional details about tonight's event, phone Sara Cross, EVHS Outreach and Prevention Coordinator at 970-328-5969.

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More from our Marijuana archive: "John Suthers, Colorado Attorney General, thinks medical marijuana dispensaries suck -- and here's why."

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