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Suthers' meeting with the Feds feeds concern in cannabis community



On Wednesday, Mayor John Suthers met with the feds about matters of marijuana. Now, we’re not one to speculate about the content of their conversation, but given Suthers’ background as a prosecutor and corrections official, those connected to the local marijuana industry don’t like the look of it.

“Does anyone else feel like we are in for our own Operation Toker Poker here?” asked Jaymen Johnson, owner of the beleaguered Speakeasy Vape Lounge, in a Facebook post.

Indeed, it's been about a year-and-a-half since members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) executed a search warrant at the local cannabis club, the Lazy Lion, but we haven't heard about any charges against the club (which has relocated, but is still operating.)

Statements Suthers made to KKTV would seem to validate the concerns.

"A lot of [the meeting] was around sensitive case investigations; that's another reason why it couldn't be public," Suthers said. "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."

And just in case you forgot his stance on marijuana...

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

KKTV confirmed that a contingent from the Department of Justice White House Office of National Drug Control Policy was in attendance, in addition to Colorado's

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent, Police Chief Pete Carey, a local doctor and Colorado Springs School District 11's student disciplinary director.

Find below a statement from Jason Warf, executive director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, about the secret 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.

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