Thursday, March 31, 2005

Straight, Inc., now called Drug Free America Foundation, makes misleading News Advisory on Supreme Court's Medical Marijuana Ruling

On March 30, 2005 the US Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in Ashcroft v. Raich on whether raw marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes. DFAF has announced that its personnel will be available for comment upon the decision of the court. The news advisory states "Founded in 1995, Drug Free America Foundation . . . " We take issue with this statement. DFAF was not founded in 1995. It was founded in 1976 under the name Straight, Inc. which became notorious as one of the most brutal, destructive drug rehabilitation programs in the world. Over 40 former clients have committed suicide.

In 1985 Straight, Inc. changed its name to Straight Foundation, Inc., ostensibly to educate the public on the dangers of drug use, factually to protect founder Mel Sembler from criminal prosecutions and civil suits and to protect Straight's money and property from future civil suits. A new organization was created to treat kids for addictions. It was called Straight, Inc.!!! The foundation granted the new Straight money until once again it became self sufficient and started paying its profits back to the protected foundation in the form of rent. The new Straight, Inc. closed in 1993 under criminal investigations and law suits including a $20 million suit for damages by a Virginia man.

Straight's reputation for abuse notwithstanding [see Overview of Straight's Abuse] Program founders Mel and Betty Sembler felt that the knowledge that had gained at Straight uniquely qualified them to be drug policy experts and so in 1995 they changed the mission of Straight Foundation once again, this time to help small businesses setup Drug Free Workplaces and to be a think tank and a national advisory group for national and international drug policy. The name was also changed again to its current name Drug Free America Foundation. [See Piercing Straight's Corporate Veil.]

Besides criminal child abuse Straight is noted for fraud and deception. Now look at the Amicus Curiae Brief filed for the current Ashcroft v. Raich medical marijuana suit before the US Supreme Court. The brief is a friends of the court statement. It tells the judges, "Your honors, you are judges and not experts in drug use and drug policy, but we are. And we are willing to use our time and our money to give you our collective, unsolicited opinion on how you should vote. Who are we? We are doctors, lawyers and drug policy experts from all across America and we think there is no scientific basis for using medical marijuana. We think that would be a bad thing.

But some of the signers of the brief or their associates are involved in drug testing. They want stiff anti-drugs laws and they want to be paid to do the testing. So who really is this wide spectrum of drug experts from all across America shown at the right. First of all the brief was prepared by Attorney David Evans. A few years ago David Evans and Dr. Eric Voth prepared an Amicus Brief in support of the US government's opposition of California Proposition 215--a state initiative for medical marijuana use. David Evans was with The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs and Dr. Voth was Chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy. But Calvina Fay, Executive Director of DFAF, is a cofounder of The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs, and the Institute on Global Drug Policy is a subsidiary of DFAF. Today David Evans is also a member of DFAF'S Institute on Global Drug Policy. Now look at the signatories on the brief:

  • The Drug Free America Foundation (Straight, Inc.) is at the top of the list.
  • The Drug Free Schools Coalition. David Evans is executive director of the this coalition along with the likes of Colleen Wienhoff, former Vice Chairman of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). She gets paid to do drug testing. Evans is also with the The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs, an organization co-founded by Calvina Fay, Executive Director of DFAF.
  • Save Our Society From Drugs was founded by Betty Sembler.
  • The International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse is another subsidiary of DFAF. Father Cassian Newton is one member of the International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse. Back when he was known as Reverend Doctor Virgil Miller Newton, Father Cassian had been the national clinical director for Straight, Inc. He left on the heels of criminal investigations and law suits--one culminating in a $721,000 jury verdict in 1990--a suit in which Dr. Newton had been accused of throwing Karen Norton against a wall. After Straight Newton setup his own chain of abusive teen rehabs. After CBS' West 57th St. exposed him; county prosecutors raided his program; four counselors were convicted for assault; he settled with federal prosecutors for $45,000 in return for not being prosecuted for 254 counts of insurance fraud; and after he and his team settled with two clients for $11.5 million for abuses sustained, Dr. Newton, now Father Cassian, returned to Florida and rejoined Drug Free America Foundation! Read The Miller Newton Story. [Donald Ian Macdonald, MD, Straight's former national research director, and Robert L. DuPont, Jr., MD, a former paid Straight consultant, are also members of ISMFDA.]
  • The Institute on Global Drug Policy is, as we saw above, a subsidiary of DFAF.
  • Students Taking Action Not Drugs is also an arm of DFAF.
So the brief leads the judges to believe that drug policy experts from all over America have taken their time and money to give them their collective opinion, when the fact is (according to the brief's title page) it is all one organization, Straight, Inc., steeped in criminal crimes against humanity, now called Drug Free America Foundation, trying to convince the US Supreme court to obey the wishes of Mel and Betty Sembler. (In truth, if you look at the body of the brief there are many endorsers not connected to DFAF.)

We are making no statement on the rightness or wrongness of the medical marijuana initiative. We are saying that the apparent principals behind the opposition have no business having the ear of the highest court in the land. We are saying that the public should not consult with the DFAF, its subsidiaries or associates about the outcome of the upcoming Supreme Court decision. We are saying that instead Melvin Sembler, Betty Sembler and Miller Newton, among others, should be investigated for their roles in Straight and for the deaths of over 40 former Straight or Straight-related clients.Related articles:


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