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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Robert L. DuPont is a quack and a fraud

From The Daily Beast.
An adviser on marijuana policy to Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to see doctors make drug testing a routine part of primary-care medicine and force some users into treatment against their will, he told The Daily Beast.

Dr. Robert DuPont was among a small group of drug-policy experts invited to a closed-door meeting with Sessions last month to discuss federal options for dealing with the rapid liberalization of state marijuana laws. California became the sixth state to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use on Jan. 1…
Newsweek has the story as well.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions received marijuana policy advice from a seasoned veteran of the War on drugs, who helped popularize the phrase "Gateway Drug" and has proposed that doctors force some patients whom they suspect may be drug addicts into rehabilitation against their will…
"Good people don't use marijuana." - Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions
This mendacious crap makes my blood pressure spike. From a rational public health perspective, how about we have docs order assays looking for the many dangerously enervating environmental toxins that increasingly impact all of humanity?

I did my graduate thesis on the scam of mass illicit drug testing 20 years ago. Nothing much has changed. My iterative online draft, which contains about 3/4ths of my final cut, remains available here (albeit with a good bit of "link rot" by now).
ABSTRACT: For an increasing breadth of organizational domains, a negative illicit drug screen result has become the final and paramount criterion for admission and/or continuing participation. Such a policy is vigorously promoted to the private sector by government and vendors of testing services as an inexpensive and vital tool for suppressing drug abuse. This policy, however, can be shown to be at once ineffective, wasteful, Constitutionally noxious, and ethically unsustainable. Reducing the harm attributable to illicit intoxication is a legitimate and worthy social goal. The ends, however, cannot justify such means of indiscriminate and intrusive surveillance.
DuPont et al therein:
Reagan Administration Attorney General Edwin Meese, long an opponent of crime-fighting restrictions like the Miranda Rule, saw great potential in enlisting employers in the fight against illicit drug use through mandatory screening: “Since most Americans work, the workplace can be the chokepoint for halting drug abuse.” (Gilliom, p. 35, Meese quoted originally in NY Times, October 31, 1986)

Two additional key administration operatives also added their efforts to the Reagan drug war. First, Dr. Robert L. DuPont, a psychiatrist and Reagan “Drug Czar” who would go on to become a tireless advocate for the commercial drug testing industry (more on Dr. DuPont elsewhere in this thesis). Second, the highly visible and forceful Dr. William Bennett, also to become a Reagan “Drug Czar,” despite his lack of training and experience in areas such as law enforcement and public health. Dr. Bennett saw illicit drug use in simple black and white: it was a moral issue, one bound to the dictates of authority. Once authority had spoken on drug use by declaring certain substances off-limits, users should suffer the penalties for transgressing. Bennett would brook no discussion of social or epidemiological “root causes” and “victimless crime” concepts. Drug users should pay dearly. Pay with their freedom, pay with their jobs.

Compliance, not health, was the real issue. “Now that the government has spoken to the subject that drugs are unlawful,” said Paul McNulty, a Bennettista soul-mate directing communications at the Justice Department, “a person who disobeys the law has made a moral choice and should be dealt with appropriately.” Bennett freely admitted drug enforcement was but an instrument of a wider agenda, calling for “the reconstitution of legal and social authority through the imposition of appropriate consequences for drug dealing and drug use.” “The drug crisis,” he told the Washington Hebrew congregation, “is a crisis of authority, in every sense of the term, 'authority'.” (Baum, p. 266)
While Bennett disdained any epidemiological analyses or addiction disease-model theories of drug use, he was not against using the epidemiological model when it suited his purpose. Dan Casse, a Bennett assistant, one day proposed a “contagion” model that might prove useful:
I studied under James Q. Wilson at the Kennedy School...He posits a contagion model. It isn’t hard-core users that spread drug abuse, because everyone can see that they’re a mess and nobody wants to be like them. Instead, it’s the casual user, the one whose life hasn’t fallen apart that is the vector for drug abuse, because he makes it look like you can use drugs and not pay a price. (Baum, pp. 272-3)
In epi-speak a “vector” is an organism that transmits a pathogen through the environment. The mosquito is the principal malaria “vector,” and so on. So, the otherwise prosperous and productive casual drug user could be targeted as a disease “vector” that had to be “quarantined” through tactics like drug screening and harsh economic legal sanctions. “I like it,” Bennett said. (Baum, p. 273)

In other words, don’t set a bad example, or we’ll ruin your otherwise nice life for you... (from Chapter 1)
From my Chapter 3:
Dr. DuPont was once awarded a Department of Energy grant for “a study described as ‘an attempt to demonstrate that opponents of nuclear power are mentally ill.’ DuPont [says] that he will study unhealthy fear, a phobia that is a denial of reality.” (see K.S. Schrader-Frechette, Risk and Rationality, p. 14) Psychiatrists are frequently big on Denial. Dr. DuPont seems to imply that since “the cardinal symptom of drug abuse is denial,” ( DuPont, op cit ) if you use illegal drugs and claim to do so without adverse consequences, you are by definition in Denial; your very dissent proves you to be an addict. And, before we can help you (given that you manage so well to not evince any overt symptoms), we must identify you through inexpensive mass drug screening.

You might as well just confess on the basis of the “clinical” screen result; after all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, no?

In 1995 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major drug testing decision in the case of Vernonia School District 47-J v. Acton et ux., (Docket 94-590, suspicionless drug testing of Vernonia, Oregon high school athletes), ruling that the institution’s interest in combatting drug abuse outweighed any right to privacy on the part of student-athletes. The “scientific expert” for the school district, noted in the ACLU’s Amicus Brief, is none other than Dr. Robert L. DuPont. Dr. DuPont first came to my attention when his paper cited above came in a two-inch thick bound volume of “scientific”papers I received from Psychemedics Corporation. In his paper Dr. DuPont waxes rhapsodic with respect to the virtues of the RIAH® drug test, and enthusiastically supports its expanded utilization. Is this man a disinterested and principled scientist or a partisan advocate of mass drug testing with a financial stake in its spread to all sectors of society?
"Is this man a disinterested and principled scientist or a partisan advocate of mass drug testing with a financial stake in its spread to all sectors of society?"
Asked and answered.

Inane views further soiled by conflicts of interest? Well, that's practically a Trump administration job requirement. Perhaps DuPont could be appointed Jeff Sessions' Deppity Fer Drug War 2.0.

In today's news (Newsweek again):
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding a key Obama-era policy that allowed states to regulate their own legal marijuana, right on the heels of the historic kick-off to legalization in California this week.

The policy, known as the Cole Memo, will be rescinded in an announcement on Thursday, according to the Associated Press, citing two anonymous sources with knowledge of the decision. The 2013 policy laid out the precedent that the Department of Justice would not prosecute marijuana businesses and users in states where it was legal, and would focus on more serious drug offenses instead –– like organized crime and sales to minors.

Sessions had already announced in November that he would be cracking down on these kinds of guidance memos…

Again, notwithstanding that my "recreational intoxicants" any more are limited to some good Cabernet and Courvoisier VSOP, this kind of ignorant Soviet-esqe Authoritarianism raises my BP.

DuPont would have "doctors make drug testing a routine part of primary-care medicine?"

If he still holds a medical license, it should be revoked. I'd like to know where his little "Institute for Behavior and Health" gets its money [Update: stay tuned, I have their latest available Form 990 -- they're a "501(c)(3)"].

A tax-exempt 501(c)(3) "charity" advocating clearly unconstitutional legislation? Using (from Schedule A) public "gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees." totaling $2,420,017 spanning the most recent available period of 2011-2015? No info I can see on the precise sources of the funding.

Hmmm... let me guess.

From the IRS: "To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities [emphasis mine] and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates..."
Read up on DuPont's many efforts to lobby for harsh (and unconstitutional) anti-drug legislation via his "Institute" and prior organizations. The foregoing cited and linked Daily Beast article is a good place to start.

UPDATE: check out this beaut. A private 501(c)(3) "Creating Tomorrow's Drug Policy"?

From page 3:
"Because there is no clear level at which most people are impaired by marijuana as there is with alcohol, the best solution is to set the illegal per se limit at zero or near-zero for THC."
Let that sink in for a moment. Review Chapter 3 of my thesis draft to ponder the analytic methodological idiocy of such a sentiment (its Constitutional noxiousness aside). I know that the imprecise weasel phrase "as a substantial part of its activities" will give the IRS an excuse for not acting, but, it's rather clear that DuPont is a tireless testing industry shill, apart from being a messianic Anti-Drug Warrior True Believer.

Again, see the breadth of my old 1998 thesis draft. Decide for yourself whether I got it right. Groundhog Day...

"We're losing badly the war on drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war." - Donald J. Trump, 1990

Just ran across this organization.

"About Us"

Is This the End of Legal Medical Marijuana, Too?
Jeff Sessions changed an Obama-era policy on cannabis, and it could affect medical use.

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era policy that took a hands-off approach to marijuana in states where it was legal. Instead, federal prosecutors, Sessions wrote, should decide for themselves whether to crack down on marijuana businesses.

This likely spells trouble for recreational marijuana, which is now legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. The move prompted an outcry from legalization advocates. “Enforcement is up to individual U.S. Attorneys, but this is a clear directive from their boss to start going after legitimate, taxpaying businesses,” said Morgan Fox, the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, via email.

What’s not as clear is how this might affect medical marijuana, long considered the more acceptable cousin to recreational weed.

A provision called the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment protects medical-marijuana programs in states from federal interference. But that provision expires January 19, unless the new federal spending bill renews it. It’s not clear whether it will be included in however Congress decides to fund the government next. Justice officials told the Associated Press they “would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana-related prosecutions.”…

More to come...

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