Monday, December 19, 2005

Monitoring the Drug Czar

Filed under "willful distortions of truth."

This morning the annual Montoring the Future survey was announced at a joint press conference between the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan. MTF has followed trends in drug use and attitudes among 8-12 graders for 30 years. As such, it is an authoritative body of knowledge on which we can make science-based policy decisions and measure the success of our drug policies.


Well, that might be true if you were anyone other than one of our nation's leading drug warriors. And, two of the top dogs -- Drug Czar John Walters and DEA chief Karen Tandy -- were at the MTF presser this morning. It should come as little surprise to us that they manipulated the survey's findings to justify (indefinite) extension of the Drug War.

I asked Dr. Lloyd Johnston, the leader researcher of MTF, about the disparity between the comprehensive nature of his work as compared to the selective use of data by the Drug Czar to justify random drug testing in schools. Dr. Johnston thoughtfully explained that his survey does not address random testing, but added that MTF does show little advantage to for-cause testing.

Compare this to Walters, who followed Johnston. He said that there will be a time "not too far off" when student drug testing is commonplace and "we will wonder what the controversy was all about." He also said (with a straight face), drug testing "works and it saves lives."

More Walters: This is what companies are doing and, therefore, it is safe for schools. Drug testing in schools is "similar to testing for tuberculosis" and such testing eliminates public health risks among children.


I don't know if you believe any of this, but it sure makes me wonder if we're talking about the same thing. Most of us are eager for an honest debate about student drug testing. However, I doubt that such a debate can ever happen as long as the facts are bent to an ideological agenda.

16:05 - Update: AP hit on the press conference.
12/21 - Update: C-SPAN video of press conference


Tom Angell said...

It sounds like Erik and Dan did a great job pestering the Drug Czar at his presser today.

It's also very exciting that SSDP landed the closer quote in the AP story.

Check it out!

"The survey results expose the abysmal failure that is the War on Drugs," said Scarlett Swerdlow, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Amber said...

The most unfortunate aspect of the war on drugs is the American casualties. Some times lost to death, but mostly lost to privately funded prisons that provide little to no treatment for them. The "War on Drugs" has hurt the children it claims to defend.

For instance, at one time an elite TX area had increased its use of herion amongst teens, and was featured on a MTV program for it.

In response a neighboring school decided to use random UA's to prevent an outbreak in their school. They were a poorer school and could not handle the issues illustrated on the MTV special. In the name of preventing a public health crisis the witch hunt began.

+It is shocking what people will do if they experience a little fear. It reminds me to paraphrase what Ben Franklin said years ago, something like, those who would give up their rights for a little temporary safety deserve neither rights or safety+

Well...none the less....back to TX

During one of the first rounds of tests students who failed were expelled. One student, Although not a drug addict, had experimented with pot. Infrequently he would try cannibus but never even saw herione so he was only worried about suspension, but never dreamed of an expulsion. He truly only tried "pot" a couple of times, but none the less failed the UA and was expelled.

During that summer I had a little P/t job before I left for college. That is when I met a boy from TX. We were both temporary laborers. He was cute and we both were in the class of '99 so I initiated a conversation with him. this is what we talked about:

He was new to town, had no family living with him, and that he was originally from TX. He was supposed to go to college the next year like me but couldn't. He wasexpelled from school his senior year. He was one of the students that failed the UA administered by his school.

What is worse his strict parents could not have hime stay at home because he was not going to school and he was forced out. Due to the fact he was now without a highschool diploma or a trade he left TX. With out friends in the new town he had to live on the streets and then at night he was working as a temp. After listening to his story I was really shocked, but after that night I was sent to a new.

It wasn't until a few years later that I saw him again. He was standing outside of the temp agency. This time he was not waiting on his shift to start. He was being arrested!

It was a long way away from being the B student who failed a random drug test administered by a public school. To being pushed into the back of a police car. Who knows where he is now and why he was being arrested, but man, he sure was cute.

clliff said...


That is so sad, but it is the reality of the war on some drugs at its most personal level. It is truly a witch hunt and those who are id'ed as drug users / abusers are cast into the American version of the soviet gulag system with the odds stacked in favor of them staying in it as long as possible.

The private prison system uses slave labor and tries to say it is rehabilitating people, what a joke. The only reason the private prison system exists is because the public doesn't like to build prisons with taxes and no politician will come out against the war on some drugs, because it would be political suicide to their careers. All the while Wackenhut, Brown and Root, the DEA, et al and the Drug Lords are all laughing all the way to the bank.

800 pound gorilla said...

What??? The drug czar invoking science again? What has science ever had to do with the War on Drugs? The Controlled Substances Act of 1987 relieved the nation of the pretense of scientific standards. The country still believes there are standards because nobody in authority has formally renounced science [although with this administration promoting intelligent design I would think it is at least possible].
The people who write drug war propaganda are smarter than all the drug czars. Sometimes they shoot off their mouths about "dangerous drugs" like a lot of the ordinary folks who honestly believe the propaganda. You'd kind of hope that someone would clue in the head scam artist into the fact that the drug war is a cleverly orchestrated scam.