Grassroots Or Fireworks? Opposition Against Marijuana In Colorado

Beverly Kinard has been battling drugs for over a decade.

She was president of the Christian Drug Education Center [1], the director of Drug Watch Colorado, and an “international delegate” for Drug Watch International.

And now, she’s an agent with Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana (GOCAM), a group that, according to federal officials, was responsible for sending out an e-mail that was mistaken as being from the government.

Does this move signal grassroots opposition to an initiative that would legalize
marijuana? Or, is it just an attempt to appear that way?“Wonderfully Minded Citizens”

“There’s a committee they started called Guarding Your Children Against Marijuana and they’re a group of really wonderfully minded citizens, but they might not be the most politically savvy,”  said Suzanne Halonen, when explaining the mistake.

Halonen is a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Denver, and she is saying that a much publicized e-mail appearing to be authored by a DEA agent was actually written by a private citizen with GOCAM.

The message in question was seeking a campaign manager to fight against a ballot issue that would make up to an ounce of pot legal for adults 21 years and over. In the mailing, a DEA agent was listed as a person to contact, and through a few communication mishaps the agency says, it was reported that the DEA had actually sent the request when it hadn’t.

But assuming GOCAM did send the e-mail, who is the organization?

Guarding Our Children And Beverly Kinard

According to Secretary of State records, GOCAM is not a big group. The most recent financial report shows that the organization only has $205 on hand, and almost all of it was given by the woman who heads the outlet, Beverly Kinard.

Kinard is an interesting person herself, and according to previous news reports, has been and outspoken critic against drug legalization of any kind.

In a 1999 Rocky Mountain News [2] article, Kinard was described organizing a prayer day against drugs:

Kinard could have rolled over long ago and isolated herself. Instead, she became a community activist. She was part of Nancy Reagan’s speakers’ bureau; the former first lady promoted the ”Just Say No” campaign against drugs.

Kinard began taking her drug education program to public schools and to whoever else would listen.

”If all the children hear is information about legalizing drugs and don’t hear of the harmful effects, how can you expect them to make a decision?” she said. ”The truth makes a difference. It gives them something to use when they say ‘no.’ ”

When she was working with a group called Drug Watch International, Kinard filed a complaint against making it legal to grow hemp in Colorado, according to a Denver Post [3] article from 1996:

An anti-drug crusader has filed a complaint against Sen. Lloyd Casey for introducing a bill that would legalize the growth of industrial hemp in Colorado.

Beverly Kinard, describing herself as an international delegate from Colorado for Drug Watch International, wrote to Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley lambasting Casey.

“In the day and age of youth, crime and violence, I am outraged that the state of Colorado could continue on with a message to our youth that drugs, crime and violence are OK,” she wrote.

A 1996 Rocky Mountain News [4] article also reported that Kinard, as a director with a group called Drug Watch Colorado, was rallying against a government needle exchange program, even after the Governor’s AIDS Council recommended it:

Kinard, an Arvada resident, helped form the Jefferson County Task Force on Youth and Drugs, a community group that served as the catalyst for a 1980 drug-paraphernalia law that effectively prohibits needle-exchange programs in the state.

The Governor’s AIDS Council, which has advocated the needle-exchange program to cut down on HIV infection among drug users, considered asking the state health department to declare a ”medical emergency” as a way to sidestep the paraphernalia law.

Instead, the group will attempt to round up support from the medical and legal communities and encourage the legislature to amend the law.

Cancerous Hemp?

But Kinard’s crusade against hemp led to flack from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a group in favor of marijuana legalization.

NORML reported in 1995, that Kinard was caught making erroneous statements about the properties of hemp; like that it caused overnight skin cancer in laboratory animals. It also says that she cited an organization, the Dutch National Board of Drug Prevention, that didn’t even exist.

“My understanding is that groups like Drug Watch International are not organizations per se, more like mastheads,” said Paul Armentano, a speaker for NORML, when asked about Kinard.

“They have no full-time staff, office space, regular mailings/publications etc.  They serve as an umbrella for certain advocates to cite as ‘credentials’ when they testify or submit legal briefs.”

And looking at groups Kinard has participated in, that might be true.

No Records

There are apparently no Secretary of State (SOS) records for Drug Watch Colorado or Drug Watch International. The Christian Drug Education Center does have a non-profit SOS file, but is not registered as a political committee. It is also headed by Kinard, according to an annual report.

In fact, the only committees registered in Kinard’s name are GOCAM, and another group called Students Against Marijuana, which has $0 in funds

Kinard did not respond to repeated calls asking for comment.

Article Sources

[1] Pot legalization measure moves forward with help of Colorado colleges, Rocky Mountain Collegian (Fort Collins, CO) March 1, 2006

[2] Just Say A Prayer, Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) October 12, 1999

[3] Under The Dome, The Denver Post (Denver, CO) March 26, 1996

[4] Group vows effort to fight needle swap, Drug Watch Colorado plans statewide protest, Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) January 27, 1996

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at

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