Marijuana: Save Our Society from Drugs attacks Amendment 64 task force recommendations

Last week, the Amendment 64 task force released a massive, 166-page report filled with recommendations about how best to implement the measure, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of marijuana.

How does Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs and the Drug Free America Foundation, grade the results? Not highly. If there was a mark lower than "F," she'd no doubt bestow it on the effort -- not that she blames those involved.

"This was a task doomed for failure from its onset," Fay says in a statement released jointly by the two organizations she heads. "Amendment 64 is in direct conflict with federal laws and international treaties. It is a deeply flawed law that will have profound negative consequences on public health and safety and the future of Colorado's children and families. The only viable recommendation would have been a call for repeal of the law!"

Yes, the exclamation at the end of this last sentence is in the original.

These comments are far from shocking. As evidence, consider this excerpt from our January post "Marijuana legalization's biggest enemies -- and their Colorado ties," which focused on a Rolling Stone list of unrepentant drug warriors. Here's the Save Our Society From Drugs segment:

Rolling Stone's number two slot is shared by Mel and Betty Sembler, the Florida couple behind Save Our Society From Drugs. That entity was the single biggest funder of Smart Colorado, the main opponent to Amendment 64, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. The more than $150,000 SOSFD had given to Smart Colorado by the publication date of a September post on the fight for and against A64 represented approximately 78 percent of total donations received.

Critics argue that Save Our Society From Drugs carries plenty of problematic baggage. Here's an excerpt from a Nation piece about the Semblers that we shared last fall:

The Semblers have been waging a war on marijuana for decades.

Before they led Save Our Society from Drugs, and its sister nonprofit, the Drug Free America Foundation, the Semblers were at the helm of STRAIGHT, Inc., which operated drug abuse treatment centers, mostly for teenagers, from 1976 through 1993.

Former clients of the rehab center recount episodes of brutal beatings, rape and systematic psychological abuse.

At one facility in Yorba Linda, California, state investigators found that STRAIGHT Inc. subjected children to "unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse...and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting." Samantha Monroe, who was placed into a STRAIGHT Inc clinic in Tampa at age 13, says she was locked in a room, and forced to wear a clothes stained with urine, feces and menstrual blood -- a punishment her counselors called "humble pants."

Richard Bradbury, a former STRAIGHT patient and counselor-turned-whistleblower, told the St. Petersburg Times that Monroe's experiences weren't unique. "It was pure child abuse," Bradbury told reporters. "Torture."

The approval of Amendment 64 by Colorado's voters didn't end SOSFD's efforts to kill it.

Continue for more about Calvina Fay and the Amendment 64 task force, including the complete report and a DEA letter.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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