The private sponsor of a government-funded anti-drug summit in Madras has cancelled the event after WW first reported it had been set timed to coincide with the fight over Measure 91, the marijuana legalization measure.
BestCare Treatment Services said late Thursday it was withdrawing from the summit, which was scheduled to include anti-drug activist Kevin Sabet. WW's story raised questions about the timing of a tour that would include Sabet within weeks of voters receiving their ballots for the general election.
Here's the statement from Rick Treleaven, executive director of Redmond-based BestCare:
"BestCare Treatment Services has decided to withdraw its participation in the Oregon Marijuana, Alcohol, and Other Drug Summit that we had planned to host in Madras on October 1 and 2, 2014. Members of the Yes on 91 Campaign have raised concerns in the media about the timing of the Summit, claiming that the Summit was meant to influence the outcome of the election. We have held this summit for the last two years in October, with very similar agendas and strong community support. Our intent for the summit was to raise awareness in the community of the rising use of ever stronger marijuana, a trend we expect to see continue regardless of the outcome of the election. Though we think it is farfetched that the activities of our Prevention Program in Madras will have any influence on the election, the fact that the accusation was made means that the program could be perceived as trying to influence the election. BestCare does not want to see its prevention activities distracted by the controversy, so we have chosen to cancel our Oregon Marijuana, Alcohol, and Other Drug Summit. We hope to plan a similar summit for after the election, when we can continue our Prevention activities without the controversy engendered by an election."UPDATE, 11:30 am Friday, Aug. 22: Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche tells The Oregonian's Noelle Crombee he's trying to raise $15,000 to keep the summit going.