CALL FOR ACTION INVESTIGATES: 'Secret' marijuana meeting in Colorado Springs

Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 10:49 PM MDT
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11 News has confirmed that a meeting took place Wednesday between several federal agencies, the mayor of Colorado Springs, and chief of police for Colorado Springs over the topic of marijuana.

Mayor John Suthers spoke with 11 News following the meeting and stated there was a contingent from the Department of Justice White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that came to Colorado this week. Suthers confirmed the meeting was held with the Colorado Springs Police Department, the DEA, and the resident agent with the DEA.

"I think they're in Colorado to find out what law enforcement and other regulatory agencies' view is toward marijuana regulation in Colorado," Suthers said. "They're [local law enforcement] talking about what they're finding in houses, what they're finding and who is doing it, and where these people are coming from."

Mayor John Suthers gave KKTV a written statement earlier in the day when he first declined to talk on camera.

"The meetings are not open to the public because they include sensitive investigation information,”

the statement from Suthers read.

When asked about the attention this particular meeting was receiving, the mayor asked if media outlets "stalked" the governor's office on Tuesday.

"So the other 15 meetings I had today were secret meetings also," Suthers said. "There's nothing about this that would require it to be public. The folks that came out didn't want it public; there's no reason for it to be public."

11 News confirmed some members of the public were invited to the meeting, including a local doctor and District 11's student disciplinary director.

Jason Warf, the executive director for the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, sent out the following statement on the meeting:

"It has come to our attention that the the Mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, met today with officials from several Federal agencies, in secret. This is extremely concerning for us as an organization, but more so for the cannabis businesses, as well as the patients and caregivers that we represent. Since legalization in 2012, we have been a part of writing dozens of pieces of legislation. The design of most of these efforts was to regulate every aspect of the cannabis plant. If someone or a business is in conflict with current Colorado law, that is a matter that should be taken up in state court, not Federal court. Our state statutes are more than sufficient to prosecute individuals in conflict with the law, without Federal assistance. Until Federal law is updated to meet the standard of cannabis law in Colorado and the majority of the country, no Federal agent should be involved in enforcement action in these states. During the 2017 session, our organization supported HB17-1313. This was legislation that passed that started the process of asset forfeiture reform. Because of this new law, it is now far more lucrative for a municipality to work with the Federal government on drug arrests, rather than prosecuting individuals under state law. Under Federal seizure laws, they receive a much larger percentage of assets seized. We have received word and believe that these meetings are about circumventing state law because of this revenue difference. This is unacceptable and can not move forward. This is direct conflict of the Constitutional Amendments passed by the voters of Colorado. On behalf of our owners in Colorado Springs, as well as the thousands of patients that we work with, we ask that the content of the Mayor’s meeting be made public, immediately. We also ask that we be invited to any future meetings as a representative of the medical cannabis industry and the patients of Colorado Springs. We have worked with city officials since 2009 to enact sensible regulation. This undermines those efforts, the will of Colorado Springs voters, and it must end. Our organization will do everything in our power to uncover what is being discussed in these meetings, if the Mayor does not make public the content."

The mayor says the federal representatives didn't want the meeting to be open to the public.

"A lot of it was around sensitive case investigations; that's another reason why it couldn't be public," explained Suthers. "So without getting into that I would tell you that probably most of the discussion centered around the huge black market that exists for marijuana in Colorado."

Suthers said his stance on legal recreational marijuana remains the same.

"We should be very proud about our designation as a great American defense community," said Suthers. "To keep a military-friendly reputation with the DOD, I don't think embracing getting high for fun would be a good message."