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Treatment and fraud

CNN has a pretty powerful investigative series on California’s dysfunctional treatment system:

Over $185 million per year of state and federal money goes into California’s drug rehab counseling program, much of it lining the pockets of unscrupulous clinics who pay people $5 to sign in (or simply invent clients).

While each state has a different system, the fraud and abuse in treatment is a national problem as the treatment industry has become a hugely lucrative business (try doing an internet search for “drug treatment” or “drug rehab” to see just how large this industry is), with lots of taxpayer money to tap and tons of “addicts” who are required to go through treatment because of their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Yes, there are legitimate treatment centers that are doing good things, but there are also a ton of programs sniffing out their chunk of the cash.

Every week, I’m approached by some unscrupulous person or group who wants to use Drug WarRant to increase the search engine rankings of a treatment clinic or referral site. These are in addition to the ones that show up in the Google ads on the right (I’m not involved in choosing those). They want to supply me with an article of my choice that they’ll write for the site, in exchange for an embedded text link to their site, or an infographic, or simply that they’ll pay me to stick a text link in one of my posts.

Since Drug WarRant has excellent google rankings, they’re looking to take advantage of that link power for their rankings. I always turn them down (or simply ignore them). They’re as low a form of life as spammers.

The treatment industry needs vastly better regulation. It alo needs to have the drug war end, so that treatment isn’t so heavily tied to the criminal justice system.

And then, we need to have a serious conversation about the kind of treatment we provide for people, and take a good hard look at harm reduction and maintenance therapies as an alternative to ineffective coerced cold-turkey methods.

[Thanks, tensity1]

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I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks, and forgot about the fact that Drug WarRant just had a birthday. As of July 26, this blog is 11 years old.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. At the time, I was just looking for an outlet outside the newspaper LTE to talk about my views on drug policy. I thought I’d post once or twice a week. 5,550 posts later…

Wonder how many more years…

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Tweeted just now by Rafael LeMaitre, spokesperson for the ONDCP:

News: President Obama announces intent to nominate @ONDCP Director Kerlikowske to serve as Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

Yes, this is the guy who’s made a living out of saying the drug war is over, that we can’t arrest our way out of the problem, and that we need to focus on treatment. Now he’s going to be in charge of interdiction?

Is there no integrity at all at that level? Or at least an attempt to pretend?

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“As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.’ Over the years, I’ve been moved by the brave patients and veterans who are fighting terrible illnesses. They need and deserve pain relief. This new [medical marijuana] law will provide that relief and help eligible patients ease their suffering…”

– Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, this morning.

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She’s back

Continuing on her crusade against marijuana as medicine (except when it’s sold by a company she works for), Andrea Barthwell has resurfaced in Ohio.

Dr. Andrea Barthwell says she’s seen marijuana shops pop up like liquor stores. “These people move in with a vengeance,” she says.

The former adviser to President George W. Bush is warning against legalizing the drug for medical purposes.

“It’s full of contaminates, bird droppings, animal carcases and it exposes the sick and dying to a number of potential problems,” Barthwell adds. [...]

They point to data from Colorado, which legalized medical marijuana in 2000. From 2006 to 2011, traffic fatalities from drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 46 percent. In 2011, drug usage among kids 12-17 was higher than the national average.

Barthwell’s goal is to stop all that from happening here in Ohio.

For those new to this blog, Andrea and I go way back.

In 2005, I broke the story about Andrea’s traveling con job, including the fact that she falsified sponsor information to suppport her Illinois Marijuana Lecture series.

I then covered her move as a Snake Oil Salesman, shilling for a company that sells medical marijuana while still going around opposing medical marijuana.

Later, Barthwell created an organization called “Coalition to End Needless Death on our Roadways,” publishing a “Fatal 15″ list each year which they promoted in the media (big scare stories) based on NHTSA data. The only problem is, they didn’t use the data properly and their results were completely false and misleading. I created this page to alert the media to the scam, and before long, her organization evaporated.

Andrea is a con artist who loves to see her name in print and can’t seem to do anything without lying or distorting the truth in some way.

Keep alert, Ohio.

[Thanks, Tom]

Update: Here’s another article:

“There is no instance where marijuana is superior to anything that is currently on the market,” said Dr. Andrea Barthwell, a former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “There is no need for it. There is no room for it. There is no place for it in the physicians’ toolbox.”

She claims there is not enough good medical research to show that marijuana has any positive effect except “an anecdotal finding that marijuana gives people the munchies.”

Barthwell worries that, if it is legalized in Ohio, we will see the drug become more easily available, especially to teens and children. She also argues that medical marijuana would set modern medicine back by over a century because it would open the door to letting ballot issues and lawmakers, not science and medical experts, determine what medicine should be on the market.

“Set modern medicine back by over a century.” Wow.

Now this particular article also has an anecdote from someone else (not Andrea) that really set me on edge…

At a Statehouse news conference, Coleman told the story of a client who explained the difference between drunk driving and drugged driving.

“With beer, you don’t see the red light. With marijuana, you see the red light, and you don’t care,” he said.


What a horrible (and inaccurate) distortion of my joke:

The drunk driver speeds through the stop sign without seeing it.
The stoned driver stops and patiently waits for it to turn green.

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