State candidate backs pot measures

Prosecutor seeking attorney general's job says Suthers gets ‘distracted'

A Boulder prosecutor challenging for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers’ job said Sunday he backs measures that will give local communities authority to ban medical marijuana dispensaries via ordinance, while also allowing them to put the issue before voters in a ballot question.

This, as Democrat Stan Garnett criticized Colorado’s top cop as a career politician who “lets himself get distracted by all sorts of issues,” pointing to Suthers’ decision to join a multi-state lawsuit aimed at exempting Colorado from national health care legislation passed in March.

Garnett characterized Suthers’ move to add Colorado to the lawsuit as a partisan decision.

“The Attorney General should be a lawyer for the people, not business and special interests,” Garnett, who was elected in 2008 as Boulder’s district attorney, told a small gathering Sunday morning at Main Street Bagels.

Andrew Cole, a spokesman for Suthers’ re-election campaign, noted that Republican and Democratic attorneys general have signed on to the lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s health care legislation. Cole rejected suggestions Suthers is “politically distracted.”

“If Stan Garnett thinks upholding the Constitution isn’t important, I wonder where his priorities are,” Cole said.

Garnett on Sunday spoke with a group of eight residents in a small room at the shop, touching on issues from consumer protection to Colorado’s evolving landscape for medical marijuana, which he called less a law enforcement issue than a question of land use and planning for dispensaries.

“We do prosecute cases where there is improper dealing,” Garnett said.

Garnett, however, said “serious dealing” involving drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine is a higher priority for his office.

Garnett said he expects a series of legal challenges will be coming against House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 109, both expected to be signed into law this week by Gov. Bill Ritter.

Both measures represent a “pretty good framework” for regulating growth in medical pot despensaries, Garnett said.

Garnett said since he took office in the 20th Judicial District, he’s created a consumer protection division devoted to prosecuting white collar crime, while his top priorities include violent crime, distribution-level drug prosecutions and the effective use of drug courts for first-time, relative minor drug possession cases.

“We send fewer of our convicted felons to the Department of Corrections than any other jurisdiction, which is something I’m very proud of,” Garnett said.


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