Amendment 64: Attorney General/marijuana critic John Suthers would defend it in court
In announcing the passage of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, during a newscast this morning, National Public Radio floated the possibility that the measure could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court owing to pot's illegality at the federal level. And if the proposal wound up there, who would defend it? None other than Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, arguably the most vocal critic of marijuana-policy liberalization among major Colorado officials.
"The Office of the Attorney General will defend Amendment 64, as we do all Colorado laws," notes Suthers's spokeswoman, Carolyn Tyler, via e-mail.
How enthusiastically he might do so is another question. A short time before Tyler's note, the AG's office shared Suthers's official statement about the passage of Amendment 64. (Governor John Hickenlooper and a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Walsh had already done so.) In his response, on view below in its entirety, Suthers uses quotation marks and strong wording to signal his displeasure at the measure's approval. But he also makes it clear he'll do his duty as the state's attorney general. The introduction begins:
Another look at John Suthers.
Despite my strongly held belief that the 'legalization' of marijuana on a state level is very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General's Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution.Shortly thereafter, however, Suthers cites Gonzales v. Raich, a 2004 Supreme Court case, as evidence that the jurists recognize "the ability of the federal government to criminally sanction possession, use and distribution of marijuana, even if grown, distributed and used in a single state." (The complete ruling is also below.) As such, he asks that the Justice Department "make known its intentions regarding prosecution of activities sanctioned by Amendment 64" as soon as possible in order to aid Colorado officials moving forward.
For good measure, he adds his view that Amendment 64 proponents improperly claimed that approval of the act would result in a tax windfall for school construction. He maintains that because its authors "did not comply with required language under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights...no such tax will be imposed," making the possible generation of $40 million in revenue "speculative."
That Suthers is no fan of Amendment 64 comes as no surprise. He's frequently decried the expansion of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado, albeit by arguing at times that voters for Amendment 20, the 2000 measure that authorized it, didn't know they were approving such a system -- a complaint he can't make this time around.
Continue to read more about John Suthers and Amendment 64, including his complete statement.