Polis, Suthers Debate Marijuana Legalization

A very interesting debate held Wednesday night in Vail between Rep. Jared Polis, a leading proponent of marijuana legalization, and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers–who, as you’d expect, is not a fan of marijuana medicinal or otherwise. As reported by the Colorado Independent’s David O. Williams, whose lengthy report is worth reading in its entirety:

Congressman Jared Polis and drug-policy reform advocate Ethan Nadelmann argued Wednesday night in Vail that one of the most compelling reasons to legalize marijuana in the United States is to eliminate a major funding source for deadly Mexican drug cartels. Both Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and recently retired DEA agent Anthony Coulson sharply disagreed…

“Almost without exception, the people on these panels advocating the legalization of drugs have either been academics, paid affiliates of public policy institutes, editorialists or law enforcement officers or politicians in ski resorts and areas of great affluence,” Suthers said.

Polis, a millionaire entrepreneur whose family owns property in Vail, disputed that notion. While he says he’s never smoked marijuana himself and very rarely even drinks alcohol, Polis said he’s dealt with addiction in his own family and saw a high school friend die of a heroin overdose.

But pot is not heroin, he said, and the ease with which is can be obtained illegally makes it all the more imperative to regulate marijuana for strength and purity and to keep it away from those under the age of 21. Plus, legalization will neuter the cartels and boost the U.S. economy…

“I personally would prefer legalization of marijuana to the medical marijuana regimen we currently have in Colorado,” Suthers said. [Pols emphasis] “I believe the retail dispensary model in Colorado, whereby marijuana is grown in large grow operations and sold in retail dispensaries to people who allegedly have a debilitating medical condition has become a complete joke. It’s nothing more than state-sanctioned fraud on the part of thousands of patients and a few dozen doctors.”

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

    • ArapaGOP says:

      Suthers looks like a statesman; Polis looks like a tourist.

      Is that five-o-clock shadow? It amazes me what passes for good grooming these days.

    • allyncooper says:

      Polis should have been dressed in a tie dye Grateful Dead T-shirt, love beads, and a head band.

      But seriously, I actually agree with Suthers that the medical marijuana business in CO is a joke. Just look at the ads in Westword. Legalization for recreational use is preferable.

      That reminds me, I have to renew my prescription. I’m getting a hangnail on my middle finger.  

      • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

        I mean, I don’t know about you, but I prefer a system in which we don’t ruin the lives of nonviolent Americans because they decided to consume a plant that’s safer than alcohol and less addictive than soda pop, to any system in which for any reason we DO ruin the lives of nonviolent Americans who consume said plant. Not to mention the whole empowering drug cartels and black market thing.

        However, a functioning MMJ system IS possible. Colorado lost the chance to regulate it in a way that would bring mom and pop entrepreneurs who care about patients into the industry with enough power to make MMJ work. Instead, the legislature and municipalities chose to regulate in a way that only advantages the largest, wealthiest MMJ businesses, who have a much greater incentive to operate only as ethically as they must to avoid raids.

  1. Mark G. says:

    Government has no authority to prohibit Gods plant.

    Suthers is fighting his own God.

  2. Mark G. says:

    Cannabis, what better way for the poor and oppressed to secure affordable, simple and basically self-determined comfort and relief?

    Does Suthers want the ones Jesus worries about the most, to needlessly suffer?

  3. morgancarroll says:

    It takes political courage to even put the issue on the table.  

    The “War on Drugs” has been an expensive failure, with the result that more poor people and minorities have been profiled and now have criminal records, impacting employment and voting rights — and addiction levels are the same or worse.  Prohibition has rarely been effective social policy.

    A rational exploration of what is or is not working is long overdue.

  4. lonchair says:

    is that the DEA/criminal/legal systems with the penal industry have so much to loose, and they are a powerful and long deeply entrenched lobby  

  5. st0ry says:

    I work in the industry and I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are absolutely no safeguards on what pesticides are used in production of this “medicine”. All that is there are overly burdensome regulations to ensure where the products and revenue go after production and what equipment is used to produce it, which just protects landlords from potential fire dangers and keeps the $ flowing to the state and out of the black-market.

    The whole program is just a scam to make sure the state and the property owners get their $ and that their investments are safe. Public safety is not the issue. If they gave a damn about the public they would have a contaminant testing program in place.

    No one is watching what gets sprayed on the plants or what they are fed. There is no testing for chemical or biological contaminants.

    I think it needs to be regulated like alcohol and it needs to be tested like a food product.

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