FROM POT TO PORN TO AARP
The American Association for Retired Persons now calls itself simply “AARP” because some members are offended by the term “retired” and it wants to appeal to younger Americans. But the organization is now trying to explain a far more serious and deceptive practice. It hired an admitted former drug user and dealer as an editor of its 22-million circulation magazine. He has emerged as a spokesman on the so-called “medical marijuana” issue, telling America that seniors might benefit from smoking dope.
AARP confirmed AARP magazine editor Ed Dwyer’s curious background, saying that he wrote for High Times magazine and Playboy but had also done work for “quality” publications. AARP said his resumé didn’t include a stint as a writer for Penthouse, but there are several references to that in the public record. What’s more, AARP magazine top editor Steven Slon also worked for Penthouse. It turns out he and Dwyer are old friends.
High in America, a book taking an inside look at the drug culture, reported that High Times was described by its founder, drug smuggler Tom Forcade, as being like a “sleazy carnival” with “pills in one room, grass in another, coke in another room, nitrous in the next room, glue in another room, and so on down the hall.”
Dwyer didn’t respond to my emails and telephone calls. But emerging as a national spokesman for the magazine, Dwyer was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “The use of medical marijuana applies to many older Americans who may benefit from cannabis.” An article and poll results on the issue will appear in the March-April issue. Slon says Dwyer helped edit the marijuana article and claims that it is a balanced treatment, but he wouldn’t provide an advance copy.
The poll results were released in advance, generating widespread coverage with Tonight Show comedian Jay Leno cracking, “Nearly 75 percent of elderly Americans approve of the legalization of medical marijuana. And you thought grandpa used to forget stuff before!” But it’s not a laughing matter to anti-drug activists who recognize the use of marijuana cigarettes for “health” reasons as a ploy to soften opposition to the legalization of pot.
Slon claims Dwyer’s drug use is a thing of the past and AARP says that he worked for High Times years ago, from 1974-1978. However, he also authored a piece for the December 2004 “anniversary” edition of the magazine about how High Times “was a dope-fueled mission” for him. Dwyer didn’t disavow his early drug-taking years and, in fact, speaks fondly of “the memories and opportunities.”
For those who have never seen a copy, High Times features centerfold pictures of illegal substances, like Playboy features women exposing their private parts. The “sex was plentiful” and the work, Dwyer wrote, was “most rewarding when we got to sample the centerfolds,” naming several varieties of dope. He said that some of his best story ideas “came out of a balloonful” of nitrous oxide or laughing gas.
High Times founder Tom Forcade, he said, would “give me pounds of marijuana or hash to peddle…” but Dwyer gave most of it back because he wasn’t good at dealing drugs. However, he took the job when Forcade gave him “a bag of Colombian” marijuana as an inducement.
Dwyer reveals that Forcade would talk only “half-jokingly” in admiring terms about such figures as North Korea’s Kim Il Sung, Hitler, and Juan Peron of Argentina. He eventually committed suicide, but Dwyer survived, bouncing from job to job until he has ended up at what is now called “AARP The Magazine.” The old name, “Modern Maturity,” was dropped because it was too bland. The new version is apparently modeled after ESPN The Magazine and designed to be fashionable and youth-oriented. But AARP may have become too slick for its own good by hiring veterans of the counter-culture and using seniors in a deceptive campaign to peddle dope.
With the assistance of Jeanette McDougal of Drug Watch International, anti-drug activists Joyce Nalepka and Dee Rathbone uncovered the Dwyer connection when they read how AARP had “decided to study” the issue of “medical marijuana.” They said, “To those of us who’ve known for years that High Times magazine is a virtual market place for all things pro-drug, including marijuana seeds, mushroom spores, and drug paraphernalia, we had to wonder how many grandparents who participated in this AARP poll were aware what they were voting to support. We suspect very few have any idea. Grandparents are the most anti-drug segment of our society.”
Perhaps this is why seniors have
been targeted with a poll that is being used to push dope. Forcade,
if he were alive, would be proud of AARP The Magazine.
© 2004 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights
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Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly
Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington
Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.
Accuracy in Media has been on top of this story since Day One, noting that CBS News and Dan Rather have been taking a beating over the use of the forged documents. USA Today has a lot to explain and heads should roll there, too.