Attorney General Phil Weiser
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (left) and Editor-in-Chief Bryan Grossman at the town hall event.

The state is pursuing legal action against drug companies that misled consumers about the addictive potential of opioid drugs, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told a crowd of more than 300 at a town hall meeting Sept. 10.

“There are companies out there, and executives, those companies and family members who’ve made a whole bunch of money lying to people, and I’m going to make sure we hold them accountable,” Weiser said.

“We’ve got an epidemic in this country, and we’ve got to do multiple things to address it,” he said. “One thing we’re going to do is get the best settlement that we can. We’re going to get a judgment against companies who lied and made money off of people’s well being. And then we’re going to use all of it to address this crisis.”

Weiser addressed a wide range of topics at the meeting hosted by the Colorado Springs Independent and the Business Journal at The Pinery at the Hill.

Weiser answered several questions about officer-involved shootings, including the recent shooting of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey as he was fleeing from officers.

Asked if he could conduct an investigation of the Bailey shooting, Weiser said he does not have the authority to engage in a stand-alone investigation.

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The ability to call for an outside investigation “is left in the hands of the district attorney investigative authority,” he said. “Our role … is more in this role of training, helping to develop best practices” for police officers.

“In our office, we have a peace officer Standards and Training Program,” he said. “And my commitment is to make sure we do what we can to help develop the culture in the toolkit, so that we don’t escalate situations where it’s not necessary. … We want to have more community conversations, to learn and discuss what are better practices, and what other public policy steps are appropriate.”

Here’s a sampling of Weiser’s comments on other topics. You can view a livestream of the event on the Business Journal’s Facebook page.

Federal lawsuits

Weiser’s department is pursuing about 16 lawsuits against the Trump administration, including a challenge to the emergency declaration that ordered diversion of money from military programs to border enforcement.

“Both [Solicitor General] Eric [Olson] and I believe deeply in this concept of the rule of law, and protecting people in Colorado,” Weiser said. “It’s very clear, the spending power lies with Congress.

“There are other cases defending other critical legal principles that we believe in here, including, for example, [the EPA’s move to end methane standards]. … The oil and gas companies, the major ones, they’re not asking for this rule to be taken away,” he said. “But nonetheless, … they’re going to end this rule entirely, without any basis. … Where this administration’s failed to have reasonable basis for their work, the courts have been a check.

“As the representative of the people of Colorado, I have had the obligation to sue our federal government when it violates the rule of law. … It is wrong that the Federal Justice Department is refusing to defend the Affordable Care Act. And that is a threat to the rule of law.”


“Whether people like it or not, TABOR is the law in Colorado, which means it’s my job to defend that law. … If I as a citizen disagree with that law, I could campaign for and vote for some initiative to change our Constitution.”

Drug pricing

“We are now suing a whole bunch of generic drug companies for engaging in price fixing to hike up prices as much as 1,000 percent for what can be life-saving drugs. So we are going to be all in on addressing this sort of price hikes based on collusion.”

Climate change

“We are fighting in the courts to try to keep in place measures that have been adopted. … We’re going to be standing up against the EPA effort to remove our oversight of the auto industry. … We’ve got to be creative and innovative on how we manage our water.”