The campaign to legalize an ounce of marijuana for adults is heating up in Colorado, as opponents of the measure announced this morning that they are starting their own series of battles against Amendment 44.
They were also packing some major political clout. Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton spoke out strongly against the initiative, along with a DEA agent, and an out-of-state nonprofit corporation.
“We have been most successful in this country when we can show our children that drugs are harmful,” said Calvina Fay in a press conference this morning. “By legalizing and normalizing we are sending the wrong message to children.”Fay, the Director of Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS), said her organization was ready to kick off a “grassroots campaign,” through an array of lectures and advertisements around the state. She also confirmed that two speaking events were planned as soon as next week, although the venues were not yet known.
Amendment 44 was placed on the ballot last August, after the group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) obtained over 129,000 petition signatures. That’s about 61,000 more than required by the Secretary of State to put an initiative up for a vote.
“We would become in essence the pot smoking capitol of the nation,” Lt. Governor Norton said. “Marijuana is addictive, it is destructive, and if legalized it would undermine the economic viability of our state.”
Other speakers included Andrea Barthwell, a physician who was an advisor to president George W. Bush on drug policy, and DEA Agent Jeff Sweetin, who is in charge of the agency’s Denver Field Division. According to the Colorado Automated Licensure Information System Online (ALISON), Barthwell is apparently not licensed to practice in this state specifically, but spoke as an expert on the effects of marijuana.
The event was sponsored by SOS and held in the offices of the Signal Behavioral Health Network (SBHN), an organization that provides drug treatment and prevention services. The CEO and company President were also participants in the conference.
Grassroots? Looking At The Numbers
- Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS) is based in Florida, according to the group’s website. However, a quick on-line search and call to the Florida Department of State reveled that the organization does not seem to be registered there. The IRS did have records of the entity’s nonprofit status though, and the most immediately available tax forms filed for 2003 show that total assets were $109,942.
SOS also shares an address with the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc (DFAF), another nonprofit corporation directed by Calvina Fay, although Fay has acknowledged that they are each independent organizations.
Fay also said that she had approximately $40,000 to work with in her campaign, although it wasn’t known exactly where the money had come from.
- Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana (GOCAM) and Students Against Marijuana (SAM)
GOCAM and SAM are local organizations headed by Beverly Kinard, a woman written about in another Colorado Confidential piece. In the article, Kinard was reported to have said that hemp oil caused overnight skin cancer in lab animals.
Current Secretary of State records show that GOCAM has on hand $205.00, mostly donated by Kinard herself, while SAM has a $5.
In the conference, Fay also counted GOCAM and SAS as allies in the opposition campaign.
- Office For National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the DEA
DEA agent Jeff Sweetin made an appearance today, signally the agency’s place in the campaign. He was also involved in a recent controversy when a leaked e-mail asking for help to defeat Amendment 44 appeared to be written by a DEA agent.
Kay and Physician Andrea Barthwell also have a history with the ONDCP, another federal entity that tackles the drug issue. Barthwell was the Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at ONDCP and Kay has served as an advisor to the Office.
- Signal Behavioral Health Network (SBHN)
The SBHN CEO and President have both criticized the legalization measure. SBGN is a local nonprofit dealing with drug rehabilitation services. According to the latest IRS records filed in 2003, SBHN had $3,846,075 in assets.
- The Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative Committee and the SAFER Voter Education Fund
The Equalization committee is the entity belonging to SAFER, with most of the money coming in from the nonprofit SAFER Voter Education Fund. The most recent Secretary of State records show that the committee has $9,517.86 on hand. IRS records were not available for the Voter Education Fund because it is was created at the beginning of 2006.
- Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana Prohibition (GOCAMP)
With the recent attention to GOCAM, GOCAMP was created yesterday, when proponents of the measure gathered in Denver to show their support. There are no current Secretary of State files.
“When will the government let us be the parent?”
Yesterday, proponents met in Denver to launch the newly formed GOCAMP committee, which includes parents and families in favor of legalization.
“We have decided that it is time for parents and adults, professionals, students, and other folks to step out and say this initiative is not about children. This initative is about adults,” SAFER spokesman Mason Tvert said at the event.
Tvert read a statement from Libertarian candidate for Governor Dawn Winkler in favor of SAFER’s proposal, and Republican “activist” Jessica Corry spoke about the issue alongside Democrat Barbara Harvey.
“We’re probably the last group of people you would expect to be supporting marijuana legalization,” Corry said, while standing with her husband and small children. “I believe we need to legalize marijuana because prohibition is destroying my daughter’s future. When will the government let us be the parents?”
The conference came after a Denver judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by SAFER, over what the group perceived as misleading language in voter information booklets.