A new nonprofit aims to create awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and violence

A new nonprofit has formed in Oregon that hopes to make it CLEAR what the impact of substance abuse and violence can have on a person’s life.

Children Learning Through Education and Research recently received its 501©(3) status and has announced it will concentrate its efforts on providing awareness and education to both youth and adults about the use of marijuana and heroin.

Prineville Oregon Circuit Court Judge (Ret.) Gary Thompson is serving as CLEAR’s board president and is known as the first judge to start a Drug Court in Central Oregon.

“We plan to go where the needs are for science-based and evidence-based education,” said Thompson. “Frankly, far too much misinformation has been circulating. It’s time we set the precedence for factual public health and safety information to be the basis in which youth and adults are empowered to make clear and informed decisions.”

For Thompson, it was his time on the bench that convinced him something needed to be done.

“We are having an epidemic of using black tar heroin here in Oregon that is taking the place of methamphetamine,” said Thompson. “People are overdosing on a regular basis.”

Thompson added that others are becoming addicted to high THC-content marijuana and end up being treated in the emergency room.”

Thompson feels that people are being mislead by how medical marijuana is being distributed and that they assume the drug is dispensed by physicians, something he says is simply not true.

“There is also not a single medical report by any national organization that has determined marijuana to be medicine,” he noted. “Yet we are issuing 70,000 permits for people to possess the drug in Oregon.”

Thompson said that the idea for CLEAR started early in the year by a group of people that feel better information is needed.

“If you look at what has happened in Colorado, you can imagine what could happen in Oregon,” said Thompson, referring to the legalization of marijuana there. “We want to get good information out to parents, schools, and churches about the dangers to people, especially minors, about the use of drugs.”

Thompson explained that, as a new nonprofit, the board members are busy writing grant proposals to fund their efforts that will include information posted to their website.

Board directors joining Thompson include Vice-President John Trumbo, retired Umatilla County Sheriff; Secretary/Treasurer Maggie Heising, emergency room unit technician; Dr. Ron Schwerzler, MD and addiction treatment provider; and Connie Ramaekers, certified prevention specialist.

The new organization has already attracted the support of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association who has provided it $25,000 in seed money, according to its Executive Director John Bishop.

“We are proud to support CLEAR Alliance,” said Bishop. “They have a credentialed, diverse, and experienced board, executive director and advisory committee. They are focused on circulating factual prevention and education tools. This is a wise investment for public health and safety and imperative for the well-being of our youth.”

The board has also announced the appointment of Mandi Puckett, certified prevention specialist, as executive director, who was recently honored with the national “Catalyst for Change Award,” in Atlanta, Ga.

“I am very grateful to be recognized in a room full of prevention specialists, treatment providers, and public health and public safety officials across the nation who dedicate their life’s work to advocating for public health and public safety,” Puckett said. “It was truly an honor.”

According to Trumbo, the new organization has plans to provide information that it hopes has an impact both near and far.

“Whether it’s a local school district, a hospital, a city, the entire state of Oregon, or across state lines, we are going to make factual public health and safety information readily available to the public in user-friendly formats,” he said.

CLEAR Alliance is seeking monetary donations to support its mission (all donations are tax-deductible) and welcomes supportive participation on its Advisory Committee. Contact CLEAR Alliance at 541-508-3062 or visit