A planned anti-drug summit in Oregon drew ire from proponents of a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana, leading organizers to cancel.

Supporters of the initiative, known as Measure 91, noted that at least one local non-profit was using federal grant money to attend the conference in Madras, Ore. And though the non-profit’s leaders said the summit was designed to avoid advocacy against the proposal, its strong anti-marijuana tone left the impression that federal funds would be used for electioneering.

Yes on 91Organizers cancelled the summit after cannabis advocates complained it could violate federal election laws.

“Federal taxpayer dollars should not be used to influence an election,” said Peter Zuckerman, a spokesman for the Measure 91 campaign. “Calling this an educational campaign is ridiculous.”

The Madras summit, like the events in 12 other Oregon cities, was set to feature Kevin Sabet, America’s No. 1 marijuana buzz kill. Sabet and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy formed a group called Safe Alternatives to Marijuana (SAM) that actively opposes legalization across the country.

Organizers argued that Sabet wasn’t going to talk about the election and said the tour is an educational event for local groups and residents.

Officials at BestCare Treatment Practices, an Oregon healthcare provider, planned to attend the summit. BestCare uses federal grant money, and that money would have allowed the non-profit to attend the anti-weed summit.

Rick Treleaven, the group’s executive director and the organizer of the summit, said he decided to cancel because he “could see from an outside perspective that it could look like a conflict.”

BestCare runs community mental health programs in Jefferson County. Treleaven said he would wait to decide whether the other 12 events will take place.

“It depends on what the other folks do,” he said of the local sponsors, some of which also planned to pay using federal anti-drug grants.

Treveleaven said the summit will ultimately be held, but not until after the election. The summit is held in October each year. Zuckerman urged organizers to cancel all 12 events to avoid active politicking during the election season.

Kevin SabetVoters in Oregon will decide in November whether they want to join Colorado, Washington, and possibly Alaska in legalizing recreational weed. The proposal has strong backing in the state and is a good bet to become law.

Sabet has essentially nominated himself as the sole voice of opposition to legalization. He is the best-known figure on that side of the debate, and he has made many inaccurate and misleading statements in an effort to stop legal weed.


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