Drug Abuse Policy Office

Senior Policy Adviser, Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1981-1982

Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1982-1983

Special Assistant to the President for Drug Abuse Policy, and Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1983-1985

Deputy Assistant to the President for Drug Abuse Policy, and Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1985-1986


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This collection is available in whole for research use. Some folders may still have withdrawn material due to Freedom of Information Act restrictions. Most frequently withdrawn material is national security classified material, personal privacy, protection of the President, etc


Carlton E. Turner is a chemist, an expert on marijuana, the former "drug czar" for the Reagan Administration; and the leader of several drug testing firms. 

Dr. Carlton E. Turner was born in Choctaw County, Alabama on September 14, 1940. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s and doctoral degrees in organic chemistry. Turner became one of the nation’s leading experts on the botany and pharmacology of marijuana. Dr. Turner has published a wide range of articles and books on the study of marijuana and other drugs and the prevention of drug abuse.

Before joining the Reagan Administration, Turner headed the Marijuana Research Project at the University of Mississippi. He served in the University’s Research Institute for Pharmaceutical Studies, becoming Director of the Institute in 1980. He also worked as a consultant for government agencies and private firms in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, as well as for the United Nations.

Turner's approach to the U.S. drug abuse problem included building up enforcement efforts, making marijuana and cocaine a priority, not just heroin, and establishing  an education and prevention program. His philosophy was similar to the approach of both President Reagan and White House Counsellor Edwin Meese to the problem of drug abuse. He was hired in July 1981 as a Senior Policy Advisor for Drug Abuse out of the White House Office of Policy Development. Turner was quickly promoted in 1982 to the Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office. 

As Turner led the study group that formulated the administration`s legislative package to fight illegal drugs and came up with Reagan`s executive order on the subject, his visibility grew. He often traveled with First Lady Nancy Reagan when she toured her "Just Say No" campaign. So in 1983, he was again promoted to Special Assistant to the President for Drug Abuse Policy and eventually to Deputy Assistant to the President for Drug Abuse in March 1985. 

Throughout his six years fighting drug abuse, Turner served as the President’s adviser for drug abuse policy and assisted both he and First Lady Nancy Reagan with domestic and international drug abuse education projects. During his time, the Office of Drug Abuse Policy produced two policy books on U.S. Drug Abuse Policy in 1982 and 1984. 

Turner was known for his focus on the law enforcement side of drug abuse policy. It was his first priority and fit in with soon-to-be Attorney General Edwin Meese's approach. Turner was very comfortable with law enforcement agencies and increased the involvement of the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the overall drug abuse policy. Turner believed strongly that prevention of drug use is more effective than treatment of drug addiction.

Turner left the White House staff effective December 31, 1986.

In 1987, Turner became President and Chief Executive Officer of Princeton Diagnostic Laboratories of America, a biomedical and pharmaceutical testing laboratory. In 1994, he joined Carrington Laboratories, where he served as Executive Vice President for Scientific Affairs, and then as Chief Operating Officer. He became President and CEO of Carrington Laboratories in April 1995. Carrington Laboratories changed its name to DelSite, Inc. in June 2008. Turner retired from his position as President and CEO of DelSite on December 31, 2008.

Turner currently resides in Florida and was involved in the 2014 Florida referendum, Amendment 2, on expanding and providing easier access to medical marijuana.  A significant donor to the Republican party, Mel Sembler, set up a political action committee opposed to the referendum. He chose Turner to lead this PAC. The referendum needed a super majority to pass (60%+) but did not receive this amount and did not pass. It was resubmitted to the Florida voters in 2016 and passed. 



Scope and Content Note

The Carlton Turner collection reflects the broad range of activities and projects initiated and overseen by Turner during his years at the White House. Under his leadership, the Drug Abuse Policy Office was heavily involved in drug awareness, education, and prevention outreach initiatives. It also coordinated discussion and policy on drug law enforcement issues and drug eradication efforts. Turner took an active role in the international aspects of the drug abuse problem, giving many foreign interviews and meeting with heads of state, foreign government officials, and directors of international addiction treatment organizations. The collection also reflects the scientific aspects of drug use and addiction treatment, due to Turner’s research background in chemistry and the pharmacology of marijuana.

Turner and his office used the White House Office of Records Management Subject File for many of their filing needs.  A significant amount of Turner correspondence and issue papers can be found in FG006-01 (White House Staff), FG006-07 (Office of Policy Development and HE006-01 (Narcotics).

The Carlton Turner collection consists of fourteen series: SERIES I: Chronological File; SERIES II: Memorandum File; SERIES III: Subject File; SERIES IV: Congressional Name File; SERIES V: Congressional Subject File; SERIES VI: Oversight Working Group; SERIES VII: Drug Abuse Policy Office Reports; SERIES VIII: Itineraries; SERIES IX: Media File; SERIES X: Conferences and Meetings; SERIES XI: International File; SERIES XII: State Correspondence; SERIES XIII: Comic Book Project; and SERIES XIV: Publications and Reports.

SERIES 01: CHRONOLOGICAL FILE, 1981-1986 (1.2 l.ft., Box 1-3)

This series consists of memoranda and correspondence relating to the activities of the Drug Abuse Policy Office; inquiries from the public; and Turner’s meetings, speaking engagements, and professional exchanges. The files contain both incoming and outgoing items. The material is arranged chronologically.

SERIES 02: MEMORANDUM FILE, 1981-1985 (0.5 l.ft., Box 3-5)

This series consists of mainly outgoing reports on the activities of the Drug Abuse Policy Office to Turner's immediate supervisors: Assistants to the President for Policy Development Edwin Harper and Jack Svahn and Director of the Office of Policy Development Roger Porter. Also included are two folders of memos to Turner's Deputy at the Drug Abuse Policy Office, Daniel Leonard. The material is all outgoing memoranda and it is arranged chronologically. 

SERIES 03: SUBJECT FILE, 1981-1986 (26.4 l. ft., Box 5-71)

This series contains material relating to the full range of Turner’s drug abuse policy duties. Prominent topics include: the federal drug strategy; drug and alcohol abuse awareness events, campaigns, and literature; coordination with professional associations, volunteer organizations, and private corporations on anti-drug abuse initiatives; drug addiction treatment centers; adolescent drug use; drug testing and anti-drug campaigns in professional sports; drug testing in the military and the workplace; the Teen Titans anti-drug comic book; international narcotics production, trafficking, and interdiction; the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System; the South Florida Task Force; pharmaceutical theft; the legalization of marijuana; cannabis eradication with the herbicide paraquat; the White House Conference for a Drug Free America; and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coordinating Council. While many folder titles in this series indicate a particular meeting date, the folders often contain material relating to a broader time period. This material is arranged in roughly alphabetical order by folder title.

SERIES 04: CONGRESSIONAL NAME FILE, 1981-1986 (1.4 l.ft., Box 71-74)

This series contains material relating to Turner’s meetings and correspondence with members of Congress. Topics addressed include: the federal drug strategy and role of the Drug Abuse Policy Office; requests for Turner to speak at conferences and meetings; constituent questions regarding drug abuse; cannabis eradication with paraquat; the health effects of marijuana use; penalties for marijuana trafficking; imitation controlled substances or “look-alike drugs”; penalties for drunk driving; rescheduling methaqualone as a Schedule 1 controlled substance; the Compassionate Pain Relief Act; cocaine dependency; the Teen Titans comic book; the Posse Comitatus Act and military assistance for drug interdiction efforts; Coast Guard drug-related arrests and seizures; cannabis eradication in Colombia; the diversion of legally manufactured pharmaceuticals; the Virginia Drug and Alcohol Information System; National Drug Abuse Education Week; the 1984 PRIDE conference; narcotics aid to Peru; and the Navy urinalysis program. The files are arranged alphabetically by last name of the member of Congress.

SERIES 05: CONGRESSIONAL SUBJECT FILE, 1981-1986 (1.5 l.ft, Box 74-78)

This series contains material relating to Congressional hearings, meetings, and legislation on narcotics matters. Topics addressed in this series include: the federal drug abuse strategy; coordination of federal drug interdiction efforts; federal support for state and local drug law enforcement; drug abuse prevention and education programs; the eradication of cannabis with paraquat; domestic marijuana production; teenage drug and alcohol abuse; legalization of medical marijuana use; drug abuse in the military; military urinalysis programs; military drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs; a proposed centralized Office of Drug Enforcement; military assistance for drug interdiction and the Posse Comitatus Act; the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1983; the Violent Crime and Drug Enforcement Improvements Act of 1982; imitation controlled substances or “look-alike” drugs; the nomination of Francis Mullen to be Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency; and a Congressional study mission on narcotics control in Latin America. The material is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

SERIES 06: OVERSIGHT WORKING GROUP, 1983-1986 (1.5 l.ft., Box 78-82)

This series consists of material relating to the meetings of the White House Oversight Working Group. Material from this Working Group consists of monthly activity reports from federal agencies, as well as some meeting agendas and minutes.

Carlton Turner established the Working Group to monitor federal drug enforcement activities and promote interagency communication. The group was composed of senior officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Department of State, the Department of Justice Criminal Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Food and Drug Administration.

For additional material on the Oversight Working Group, November 1986-March 1987, see the Subject File in the Donald Ian Macdonald collection. Turner’s work product for November and December 1986 is located in this file. Dick Williams served as the interim coordinator for the group in January 1987, and Ian Macdonald chaired the group as it was winding down in February and March 1987. Because this file also contains Macdonald’s work product it was retained in his collection.

SERIES 07: DRUG ABUSE POLICY OFFICE (DAPO) REPORTS, 1982-1987 (0.2 l.ft, Box 82)

This series consists of Turner’s weekly reports to the Assistant to the President for Policy Development. The reports summarize the activities of the Drug Abuse Policy Office and list upcoming events and meetings. Supporting memoranda, talking points, and reports are also included. The final folder in this series contains a small amount of material from January 1987, the interim period following Turner’s departure as head of the Drug Abuse Policy Office and preceding Ian Macdonald’s arrival. Dick Williams was responsible for the office reports during this period. Please note that additional weekly activity reports from 1982 and 1983 are located in category FG006-07 of the White House Office of Records Management (WHORM): Subject File.

SERIES 08: ITINERARIES, 1981-1986 (0.2 l.ft., Box 82-83)

This series consists of itineraries for Turner’s domestic and international trips. The itineraries outline Turner’s scheduled meetings and speaking engagements, travel arrangements, and points of contact. When Turner traveled with the First Lady, her schedules are also included. The files are arranged chronologically by trip.

SERIES 09: MEDIA FILE, 1981-1986 (2.5 l.ft., Box 83-89)

This series contains material relating to Turner’s interviews with television, radio, and print journalists. John Keller, Communications Officer, and subsequently Patrick McKelvey, Public Affairs Coordinator, coordinated the interviews for Turner. The files contain administrative and logistical records, background articles collected for interview preparation, and brief notes summarizing the interview. Interview transcripts and copies of the published stories are not included in the files. Folders are arranged chronologically by interview date. In cases where no interview was held, the folder is filed under the media contact date.

SERIES 10: CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS, 1981-1982 (0.3 l.ft., Box 89)

This series contains material relating to speaking requests and conference invitations. The folders are arranged chronologically by date of the conference or meeting. For additional material on Turner’s participation in conferences and meetings, see Series 3: Subject File.

SERIES 11: INTERNATIONAL File, 1981-1986 (1.9 l.ft., Box 90-94)

This series contains material relating to: Turner’s visits to Austria, the Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, the Netherlands, and Panama; meetings with foreign visitors from the United States Information Agency (USIA) International Visitor program and the Drug Enforcement Agency Executive Observation Program; USIA-sponsored interviews with foreign journalists; country-specific data on narcotics production, trafficking, and consumption; international narcotics-related crimes, arrests, seizures, and legislative developments; international production of opium and heroin; the eradication of cannabis and opium with paraquat in foreign countries; meetings with Colombian President Belisario Betancur on narcotics interdiction; Cuban involvement in drug trafficking; the 1982 visit of Attorney General William French Smith to Pakistan; National Security Decision Directive 221, regarding narcotics and national security; and evaluation of an Australian aircraft for Customs Department purchase. Also included is a file on military assistance in drug interdiction and the Posse Comitatus Act.

SERIES 12: STATE CORRESPONDENCE, 1981-1986 (2.3 l.ft., Box 94-99)

This series contains material relating to state and community drug education and treatment initiatives; Turner’s speaking engagements and meetings with community organizations; youth drug and alcohol abuse; school substance abuse education programs; parent associations for drug education and prevention; requests for information on the federal role in drug enforcement; cannabis eradication with paraquat in Georgia and Kentucky; heroin trafficking and consumption in New York City; and the Oregon Marijuana Initiative. These files consist primarily of general correspondence from the public. A significant amount of the correspondence is addressed to the President and Mrs. Reagan, and it was forwarded to Turner for a response.

SERIES 13: COMIC BOOK PROJECT, 1982-1984 (1 l.ft., Box 99-101)

This series contains material relating to the development and distribution of the Teen Titans drug awareness comic books. The comic books were designed to communicate the dangers of drug abuse to elementary school children. The Drug Abuse Policy Office coordinated the project, DC Comics developed the story line and artwork, and private companies funded the production costs. The Keebler Company sponsored the fourth grade book (released in April 1983), the National Soft Drink Association sponsored the sixth grade book (November 1983), and IBM sponsored the fifth grade book through the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth (February 1984). The files consist primarily of correspondence with educators, parents, and children. See Series III (Subject File) for additional material on the comic book project.

SERIES 14: PUBLICATIONS AND REPORTS, 1981-1986 (2.3 l.ft., Box 101-107)

This series contains publications relating to cocaine and marijuana use; addiction treatment programs; adolescent drug abuse; drug-abuse resources for parents; drug and alcohol use in the military; narcotics and organized crime; cannabis eradication; national border management; mental health policy; and drugs and traffic safety. The publications date from 1977 to 1986. They are arranged alphabetically by title.

OVERSIZE MATERIAL (1 l.ft.; Box 108)

Oversize material is drawn from the Subject File (SERIES 3). Material is noted in the SERIES 3 inventory with a comment that the material is oversize.

Last Updated: 06/16/2022 06:17PM

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Macdonald, Donald Ian : Files, 1987-1988

FG006-07 (Office of Policy Development)

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