Barthwell and Bensinger

April 15, 2013
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It’s good to be reminded every now and then who some of the players are.

Last week’s ridiculous article in the Springfield, Illinois State-Journal Register: Guest Column: Marijuana not a safe or effective medicine by Peter Bensinger and Andrea Barthwell.

It’s full of the standard nonsense that has been trotted out time and time again to opposed medical marijuana. But let’s remember just who Barthwell and Bensinger are.

According to the article:

Peter Bensinger is former administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and former director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Andrea Barthwell is former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Of course, that leaves out a good portion of the story. Andrea Barthwell was a founder of Illinois Marijuana Lectures — a group that toured Illinois trying to sabotage medical marijuana efforts. I caught her lying about her sponsorships in that little enterprise and it was shut down. See Andrea Barthwell Caught Red-Handed.

Shortly after that, this crusader against medical marijuana went to work promoting… medical marijuana (Sativex). See Andrea Barthwell, Snake Oil Salesman.

Later, she created a group called The Coalition to End Needless Death on our Roadways, where she simply took annual traffic fatality figures from the NHTSA, made mathematically improper conclusions from that data, and distributed those conclusions in press releases, that were often printed uncritically by duped media sources, until I started contacting them and letting them know they were being duped. I also countered with my own site: End Needless Death with Truth, not Lies

Wherever you find Andrea Barthwell, it appears the truth is beating a hasty retreat.

So let’s take a quick look at Peter Bensinger. What possible reason would he have to be a prohibitionist? Here’s one:

Two of the loudest anti-marijuana spokespeople are two elder drug warriors, Peter Bensinger (DEA chief, 1976—1981) and Robert DuPont (White House drug chief, 1973—1977), who run a corporate drug-testing business.

“Their employee-assistance company, Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, the sixth largest in the nation, holds the pee stick for some 10 million employees around the US. Their clients have included the biggest players in industry and government: Kraft Foods, American Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, the Federal Aviation Administration and even the Justice Department itself,” writes Kevin Gray for The Fix.

Former DEA administrator Peter Bensinger – who owns a drug testing company – lobbies for a federal crackdown on legal marijuana
“‘These are not just old drug war architects pushing a drug war model they’ve pushed for 40 years,’ says Brian Vicente, a Denver lawyer and co-author of Colorado’s Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. ‘These guys are asking Eric Holder to pursue prohibition policies that line their own pockets.’”

In addition to his profiteering from drug testing, it’s probably worth noting that he’s spent significant time connected to the prison industry, as a Board Member of Federal Prison Industries and as Director of the Corrections Department for the State of Illinois.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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