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John Suthers's office fires back at marijuana activists over demand to sign ethics pledge

john suthers head shot cropped.JPG
John Suthers.
Yesterday, we previewed a media event during which advocates asked that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers sign an ethics pledge pertaining to future commentary on the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. But Suthers wasn't in his office when the paperwork was presented, and he wouldn't have signed it anyway, because of what his spokesman portrays as flaws in the activists' arguments.

The pledge demand turned on letters by just-reassigned Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division director Dan Hartman that opposed MMJ retail bans being proposed in several communities. Suthers described these documents as "unethical," even though he had vigorously opposed 2006 marijuana-related legislation with an op-ed of his own, among other things.

To Mason Tvert, one of Regulate's primary proponents, Suthers's censuring of Hartman was hypocritical. For that reason, he wanted Suthers's promise not to criticize Regulate once it is approved for the November 2012 ballot -- because to do so would be unethical by his own public standards.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Mike Saccone has a very different take.

"We understand why the legalization proponents are attempting to garner press through a publicity stunt," he writes via e-mail. "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," he adds. "But their complaint glosses over the difference between two public officials in very different circumstances."

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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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16 comments
Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

The good news... This is Suthers LAST term.

The bad news.... It isn't up until 2015.

Karen
Karen

Now AG Suthers maintains that the distinction between his advocacy and Harman's letter to the editor was  that Harman was a non-elected civil servant and a regulator (a person charged with implementing  or enforcing a law). When he opposed the '06 marijuana decriminalization initiative in Colorado he worked with police who he never chastised for violating state ethics.

It looks like Suthers definition of being unethical is disagreeing with him.

Republican
Republican

So suthers is basically saying that he is a big important politician elected by the people so he is allowed to have political agendas, while the director of mmed is a minion and must do as he is told supporting the biased views of the AG. Suthers is special hartman is not. Exactly what we all thought Johny....hypocritical smug little bastard. Hartman was just supporting the organization he was directing as all directors of public agencies do.

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

Are we forgetting all of the anti dispensary events that were presented by the El Paso CO DA, Mr. Dan May?  Perhaps Mr May should get "reassigned".

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

Ok, let me get this straight: It's ok for the Attorney General (notice they didn't say Struthers) to voice a personal opinion as allowed by free speech, but anyone below him is not allowed to do so, especially if those opinions differ from the  AG? (Struthers)

It's interesting that Struthers didn't even have the nuggies to defend himself, instead ran and hid behind his minions. I think the majority would rush to defend allegations of unehtical practices, not run and say what's good for me isn't good for you.

Fine, eliminate MMJ from the conversation and petition: 

Mr. Struthers, will you sign a statement saying that you will be ethical in all dealings pertaining to the AG's office from now on?

Bet against it!

VincentVonDudler
VincentVonDudler

Colorado politics...we have to end federal prohibition first to allow states to dictate their own marijuana laws.  Pass H.R. 2306 and return power to the states!Tell your representatives -> http://pvox.co/CdiFqY

"[Prohibition] attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes." - Abraham Lincoln

Quadrophinc
Quadrophinc

the good die young the wicked live long and prosper. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Suthers is the very exemplar of Colorado's ensconced good old boys -- the whole notion of him pronouncing on others' ethics is ridiculous and distasteful.  If the people of Colorado cared about the just and equal enforcement of the law, consumer protection, our constitutional provision of cannabis to those whose doctors have recommended it, or a whole raft of other issues, they would not have been so stupid as to re-elect John Suthers to be our Attorney General.  We may infer from his continued presence in office that most Coloradans are poised between apathy and ignorance.

P.S.  Since they conceive of legal redress as a personal matter, libertarians like Suthers' non-feasance -- for them, he's the next best thing to no A.G. at all.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Why didn't you guys just show up at his office with the 3 foot bong and ask AG Suthers to take a toke?  At least that would make sense!

Karen
Karen

Correction to my spelling: Hartman, not Harman.

Also, my second sentence is referring to Suthers.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

You should put a little more effort into getting it straight -- start with this:  John W. Suthers is the Attorney General of Colorado.

stan
stan

P.S. - Did you not understand the statement his office released, or did you just go right to the comments section and start bitching?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The General Assembly's substitution of its statutory scheme to distribute marijuana to patients whose doctors recommend it for our constitution's provision that caregivers supply it is unconstitutional, but as our Attorney General, Suthers is committed to uphold it.  The State's Establishment purports to repudiate by statute what the People of Colorado ordained in our Constitution eleven years ago:  that cannabis is medicine.  John Suthers is under ethical and legal obligation to uphold patients' access to medicine, but because he believes (in his psychosis) that he and his counterrevolutionaries have succeeded in making Colorado regard medical cannabis as a front for a pernicious vice, he dares to question Hartman's mild attempt to reason with nitwit prohibitionists in all those places holding illicit elections to ban them today.  Suthers is an incompetent, and he has amply demonstrated an inability to grasp even the fundamental ethical requirements of his office -- he should be recalled by the voters.

Ian Williams
Ian Williams

Robert "Angry Man" Chase, isn't this what you've been fighting FOR? An end to the MMC system and a return to the Caregiver model?

You won, dude...you got what you wanted. Now only caregivers can supply for people in Fort Collins. The people are WITH you and you call them idiots. Your people, your community, you call ignorant.

Wow dude, are you fighting for a cause or just fighting?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Retail Dispensaries were never authorized by Amendment 20, they weren't even mentioned.

Hence, they can be banned entirely, statewide, without any constitutional violation.

Amendment 20 authorized Patients and individual Care-Givers ONLY ... and even they are narrowly limited in scope and scale.

HTH.

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