Florida's Anti-Pot Leader Once Claimed Weed Was Linked With Homosexuality, AIDS
This week, the first organized opposition to Florida's looming vote on legalized marijuana has set up shop in Tampa, thanks to a six-figure donation from GOP power player Mel Sembler. To front his new anti-pot PAC, Sembler chose Carlton Turner, a former drug czar for President Ronald Reagan.
photo via PabloEvan's Flickr
Unfortunately for the anti-weed crowd, Turner's impressive resume comes weighed down with a hell of a skeleton. Namely, a 1986 Newsweek story headlined "Reagan Aide: Pot Can Make You Gay." Yep, Turner's that aide.
In the story, the then-drug czar makes the classic slippery slope argument. He notes that when he visits youth drug recovery centers, nearly half of all residents there have had homosexual relationships.
"It seems to be something that follows along from their marijuana use," Turner told Newsweek. "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."
What's more, that pot use might just make them more susceptible to AIDS, he thought. "No one is saying that marijuana will cause AIDS," he said, but that pot could hurt your immune system and "if you're in a high-risk category, you certainly don't want to use something that will impair your immunological system."
The pro-medical marijuana crowd wasted no time jumping on the old piece, though, with the United For Care Organization blasting Turner and noting "There is no place for bigotry and ignorance in the debate over compassionate medical marijuana policy in Florida."
Turner, to be fair, disputed the story from day one and 28 years later still claims his quotes were taken out of context. "I never said it," he tells TBO.com this morning. "(It's) so outrageous it probably doesn't deserve a response."
Is it possible one of America's pre-eminent news magazines made up quotes from America's top drug official? Decide for yourself. We've embedded the full 1986 Newsweek story after the jump.