Attorney general candidate says he wants to put Colorado first |

Attorney general candidate says he wants to put Colorado first

George Brauchler

CRAIG — Eighteenth Judicial District District Attorney George Brauchler, a candidate for Colorado attorney general, says he wants to put the state first by standing up to federal overreach and taking on the opioid epidemic within the state. He also spoke of his stances regarding the Second Amendment and gun control.

Brauchler, a Republican, announced his candidacy soon after incumbent Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a fellow Republican, announced her candidacy for governor.

Brauchler served one million Coloradans in four counties in his role as district attorney and is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, which has been mobilized twice since 9/11. He also served as chief of military justice in Fort Carson and in the U.S. Army Division North-4th Infantry Division in Iraq. He is currently a colonel in the Colorado Army National Guard and a legal advisor for NORAD, according to his campaign website. He ran unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Brauchler said Colorado needs to acknowledge it can’t arrest its way out of the opioid epidemic, adding that jailing opioid addicts is not the answer. Instead, he said, he advocates a “holistic,” multifaceted approach focused on prevention and treatment.

The medical community has already made changes in the way it prescribes pain medication. Brauchler said he spoke with the CEO of UCHealth and was told that organization is taking steps to address pressure from Washington D.C. on how patients rate their pain levels after being released from hospitals.

“That is kind of what started this opioid stuff,” Brauchler said. “If you are going to cut someone loose at pain levels of six or seven, you are failing.”

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Another piece in combatting the opioid epidemic, Brauchler said, is rehabilitating addicts, stressing that the problem can’t be fixed in a single generation. If elected attorney general, he said, he will work toward taking a statewide approach to the problem and providing local leadership the support they need, particularly in areas with smaller populations.

He called threats of lawsuits against big pharmaceutical companies — an approach advocated by other candidates — an odd and dangerous notion.

“You don’t saber-rattle,” Brauchler said. “You don’t threaten to file a lawsuit. That is the kind of talk you get when you haven’t been down that road.”

Asked how he plans to handle federal pressure regarding marijuana, Brauchler acknowledged he wasn’t a fan of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in Colorado. He said he didn’t want the issue in the state constitution and would rather have made legalization a statutory law, so it could have been changed, as needed, without amending the constitution. He also said he would rather have seen an another state legalize recreational marijuana first, so Colorado officials could have observed the process and learned from the mistakes of others.

Even so, he said he respects the decision of Colorado voters.

“Fifty-five percent of the people voted to put it in the constitution,” Brauchler said. “I am a will-of-the-people kind of person. I believe in Colorado far more than Washington D.C.”

As district attorney, he said, he enforced the “spirit of the law,” while striving to protect Colorado from the negative aspects of the marijuana market. If elected attorney general, he added, he will push back with whatever tools he has should federal authorities attempt to crack down on the state’s marijuana industry.

In essence, he said, he wants Colorado to be in-charge of itself.

Even so, he said, some negative aspects associated with marijuana legalization need to be addressed, including the abuse of medical marijuana cards, which he said some use to increase the number of plants they are allowed to cultivate. If law enforcement officers ask a cardholder why they have a large number of plants, all they have to do is flash their medical card, he said.

“No one needs that much to take care of their glaucoma,” Brauchler said. “Whatever they are not using is getting packaged up and sent out the door. Colorado marijuana just has a better name than a lot of the stuff outside Colorado.”

For example, Brauchler said $1,000 worth of marijuana in Colorado might be worth up to six times that amount on the East Coast, adding that some individuals overproduce legally in their homes, then ship the surplus out, thus creating a black market.

One of the accomplishments he listed as district attorney was the creation of a task force to help law enforcement “crush” black market growers. As attorney general, he said, he would establish a similar task force made up of local law enforcement and attorneys to do the same thing. He said every county sheriff he as spoken with has told him they know where potential black market growers are, but don’t have the resources to deal with them.

Questioned about his stance on the the Second Amendment and gun rights, Brauchler said he has an unique perspective, having been involved with prosecutions involving both the Columbine High School and Arapahoe High School shootings.

He said he has spoken with law enforcement officials following every mass shooting, and they always say the same thing: We need to do a better job keeping guns away from dangerous, violent, or mentally ill individuals. But nothing has been done legislatively, he added.

In April, he said, some Republicans and Democrats wanted to try an extreme risk protection order bill that would have allowed confiscation of guns from individuals deemed high-risk by the courts until such time as they were certified no longer a risk. Brauchler said he supported that legislation.

“I’ve been a Republican my whole life,” he said. “I knew that, when taking on any legislation on guns, someone is going to get mad.”