United for Care Calls on Antidrug Group to Drop Carlton Turner Over His Remarks on AIDS and Homosexuality

United for Care Calls on Antidrug Group to Drop Carlton Turner Over His Remarks on AIDS and Homosexuality
Photo by Brandon Marshall

The newly formed anti-medical marijuana group Drug Free Florida has appointed former Ronald Reagan drug czar Carlton Turner as its chairman.

Turner made a name for himself in the 1980s when he came up with the "Just Say No" campaign. But he's also grabbed headlines for once famously saying that marijuana leads to homosexuality and, ultimately, AIDS.

Turner has been tasked with getting funding for Drug Free Florida, which is looking to fight to have people vote no in November on Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

United for Care, the pro-medical marijuana advocacy group that helped get Amendment 2 on the ballot, is calling for Turner's resignation from Drug Free Florida due to his antigay views.

See also: United for Care's Ben Pollara to Debate Former Drug Czar Who Once Claimed Smoking Weed Leads to AIDS

In 1986, while speaking out against marijuana, Turner famously said, "Marijuana leads to homosexuality, the breakdown of the immune system, and ultimately, AIDS."

Since his days serving under Reagan, Turner has remained active in his war against drugs, particularly marijuana.

In a recent interview with Fox Business, Turner continued to claim his certainties that marijuana impairs the immune system and that weed has, as he puts it, "more cancer-causing compounds than cigarettes."

Just last week, Turner debated United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara about his off-kilter views on the dangers of marijuana. Particularly, Turner has time and again said that marijuana has no medicinal benefits -- something that has been proven otherwise by medical science.

"Its always good to be in a position to debate someone who has no credibility when they say the things they've said," Pollara told New Times about their debate. "It's good to debate people who have made themselves anachronistic drug warriors who have said ridiculous things in the past and stick to those things."

But a week later, Turner is named chairman of the newly formed antidrug group, backed by mega-Republican fundraiser Mel Sembler.

Sembler gave Drug Free Florida a $100,000 donation to get it started, with promises of more to come.

And Turner has jumped right into his appointment, calling the legalization of medical marijuana a "con job" and saying more fundraisers are yet to come.

"It's not about medicine," he said, per the Tampa Tribune. "It's about legalization of drugs, and marijuana is their choice to start," Turner said Tuesday.

But with Turner's appointment to the group, Pollara and United for Care are calling for Sembler to withhold any more donations until Turner is gone.

In a statement released by United for Care, Pollara says there is no place for bigotry in this debate.

"The fact that the newly formed committee to oppose Amendment 2, Drug Free Florida, has chosen as its Chairman a Reagan-era aide who claimed marijuana leads to homosexuality is disgraceful and offensive," Pollara says in the statement. "Mr. Turner should resign as Chairman of Drug Free Florida immediately. Furthermore, we call upon the committee's sole financier, Ambassador Mel Sembler - and any potential donors to the group - to reject Mr. Turner's views, follow the example of the NBA, and withhold further financing of this organization until Mr. Turner is removed as its Chairman."

You can read United for Care's statement on Drug Free Florida and Calrton Turner below:

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