Meet The Organization Behind The Viral Pro-Marijuana Letter That DARE Accidentally Published

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Drug Abuse Resistance Education, America’s most controversial substance abuse prevention group, accidentally posted a pro-marijuana legalization letter on its website Friday.

Carlis McDerment, a former deputy sheriff from Ohio who has since joined up with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), wrote a letter titled “Purchasing marijuana puts kids at risk,” which the Columbus Dispatch published in response to another letter written by Dr. Johanna Said.

In the letter, McDerment argued that enforcing the current prohibition against marijuana actually puts kids at greater risk than simply legalizing the drug.

DARE quickly picked up and posted the piece on its website, and after a reporter at the Washington Post sent in a query wondering if DARE was softening its anti-drug stance, the organization pulled the article several hours later. The piece still went viral. A spokesperson clarified that the organization does not, in fact, support legalizing marijuana.

“It just took off nation-wide real quick,” McDerment told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They just didn’t read the article. They thought it was another anti-marijuana thing, and they posted it without reading it. That’s how it got up on the website.”

How DARE even came across and published the letter in the first place is somewhat of a mystery.

“We have no idea how they came across the letter,” Mikayla Hellwich, media relations associate for LEAP, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Even if they’re trying to cover up a human error in finding the story, they still proved that they weren’t reading the material they post to their site, which is worrisome for an organization that’s supposedly educating children.”

Carlis has worked with LEAP as a speaker beginning in 2014. LEAP, an organization of current and former law enforcement members, supports legalizing and regulating all drugs, instead of relying on models of prohibition, which place nonviolent drug users behind bars and provide criminal gangs and cartels with a major source of revenue. The group puts on grassroots speaking engagements throughout the year and is regularly involved in providing expert panelists for events and conferences.

While a deputy sheriff in Ohio, McDerment worked in the jail and on the street for regular patrol duties before witnessing first-hand the harm of the War on Drugs. But the other sheriffs didn’t care for McDerment’s decision to join LEAP, and he was soon fired for speaking to a group of kids about his beliefs, but through arbitration, he managed to get his job back but soon decided to resign.

“This whole war on drugs is kind of a sham, and it’s crazy,” McDerment added. “Here we go out and we arrest people for drugs, put them in jail, it’s just a revolving door. It just never ends.”

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Jonah Bennett