Drug awareness and prevention event will be held in Aspen on Friday

Staff report

An event to build awareness and action on drug abuse and sex trafficking will be held in Aspen on Friday.

The third annual Callie’s Backyard event will be held at Galerie Maximillian at 602 E. Cooper Ave. from 5 to 7 p.m., with speakers at 6 p.m.

The presentation will feature Ben Cort, author of Weed, Inc.; Aspen resident and father Marc Bern; and Shanna Michaels, a member of the Innocence Lost Task Force in Denver.

Cort will share his perspective on the marijuana business. He serves on the board of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Bern is trying to get legislation approved to deal with the nation’s opioid crisis, a national problem that affects the Aspen area.

Michaels will address sex trafficking issues in the state and Roaring Fork Valley.

Two local law enforcement officers also will speak. Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Bruce Benjamin will discuss domestic violence in the valley while Aspen Police Officer Roderick O’Connor will make a presentation.

Jackie Long, founder of Callie’s Backyard Foundation, is organizing the event. The organization brings awareness to drug and sex-trafficking issues. She noted that people weren’t talking about lethal drugs, toxic prescription drugs and teen suicide five years ago, but knowledge is growing.

“Aspen has always been a party town but the current awareness of young deaths and (flow) of drugs here is a crisis,” she said in a statement. “If I help one parent or just one kid, I’m grateful to be able to help.”

She wants to see a greater effort made in schools to help students make good choices.

The evening event will be preceded with shopping to benefit the Callie’s Backyard Foundation. Shopping at Max Clothing and Nuages from noon to 5 p.m. will raise funds for the foundation.