The state of Florida continues to edge closer to passing some sort of reasonable medical marijuana legislation, but not everyone in the state is happy about it. We have been reporting on the totally predictable knee-jerk opposition from the state sheriff’s association, but as the Florida state legislature is beginning to make moves to legitimize the plant for medical needs, anti-cannabis groups have decided to enter the political arena as well.
Drug Free Florida is an anti-marijuana group whose sole purpose is to oppose, and eventually defeat, the amendment scheduled for a vote this November to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Funded by a 6-digit donation from Mel Sembler (a local land developer, former U.S. Ambassador to Italy and Australia, and long-time money bundler for the Republican Party), the group’s ties to the GOP do not end there.
The head of the fledgling group of prohibitionists is a man named Carlton Turner, a 73-year-old creep who holds the dishonorable distinction of serving as a drug czar in the mid-80’s for then-President Ronald Reagan.
Word is, the iconic phrase “JUST SAY NO” was Turner’s creation, and was then co-opted by first lady Nancy Reagan to launch the miserable failure that has been the War on Drugs.
It was also during his time with the Reagan administration that Carlton Turner gave an in-depth interview to Newsweek magazine about the dangers of marijuana, and the various gateways he claimed that pot use would lead to.
The very title of the article paints Carlton as the bigot he allegedly was at the time, “Reagan Aide: Pot Can Make You Gay.”
That article, published over a quarter of a century ago, has come back to haunt Carlton, as the most outspoken pro-cannabis group in Florida has begun to wave it around for all to see, hoping that the blatant misinformation and bigotry expressed by Carlton in 1986 will work to sway voters at the polls in 2014.
“The newly formed Drug Free Florida committee has somehow managed to choose as its chairman a messenger with even less credibility than its message,” read a press release put out by pro-pot group United for Care Organization. It continued, “There is no place for bigotry and ignorance in the debate over compassionate medical marijuana policy in Florida.”
Summarizing their take on the 1986 Newsweek article, the group says that Turner “once stated that marijuana ‘leads to homosexuality…and therefore to AIDS.’ This statement is as offensive as it is inaccurate and should call into question any claim made by Mr. Turner in the course of this campaign.”
In his defense, Turner says it’s all a big misunderstanding, that the interview was botched and he was taken out of context, and that by pointing to it as evidence of any type of bigotry, his political opponents are simply showing that they have nothing else to work with.
To be fair, he is correct; he never directly stated that ‘weed leads to homosexuality which then leads to AIDS’. Oh no, it’s way more vile than that.
In the 1986 Newsweek interview, Turner talks about his time visiting with minors in drug treatment centers, and recalling that over 40% of them had allegedly engaged in homosexual activity.
He is, however, quoted directly saying about his theories on homosexuality that, “It seems to be something that follows along from their marijuana use … My concern is, how is the biological system affected by heavy marijuana use? The public needs to be thinking about how drugs alter people’s lifestyles.”
He then goes on to talk about how smoking cannabis weakens the immune system (false) and implies how that can lead to AIDS.
Fast forward nearly 30 years, and Carlton Turner is scraping the bottom of the barrel of right-wing Conservative welfare, still opposing cannabis, and now trying to defend the woefully ignorant claims attributed to him about the subject from his past.
Now, with a chance to set the record straight, even in his continued opposition to the plant, Turner just kept digging.
“I never said smoking marijuana will make you gay — I said if you’re in the subculture, you’re going to be exposed to this,” spouted Turner in a recent interview that sounded an awful lot like his quote from 1986 when he said, “When you talk to young people who use drugs, you find their inhibitions against everything are gone. This is one of the things that goes along with it.”
Regarding his stunningly stupid mid-80’s inference that smoking weed leads to AIDS, Turner chastised his critics saying of course it’s not smoking weed that causes AIDS, it’s the needle sharing.
Turner’s commentary in 1986 was controversial enough to get him booted from the Reagan administration, and groups like United for Care Organization and concerned citizens across the state of Florida hope that the ignorant gray area between Turner’s past and present belief system will render he and Drug Free Florida irrelevant.
Turner brushes off all criticism as petty politics, “If you don’t have anything to talk about you stoop to personal castration.”
Homosexuality, AIDS, and a castration fixation…do they even offer therapy for 73-year-old men?