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The Return of Robert Dupont and His Implications in the Movement on Marijuana Legalization

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Robert DuPont is an American psychiatrist known, or rather, infamous for his works in the field of drugs in the US.

He was one of the early detractors of marijuana. Dupont even described it as “the most dangerous drug“. A description wildly disproved by the current and even the scientific reports and studies back in his time.

The doctor practically invented the term “gateway drug” in the 1980s. Now, he is back, and once again returns with his outdated, obsolete, and possibly greed-induced initiatives to the campaign of the current government against the war on drugs.

How the “War” Started

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established by Richard Nixon in 1973. The agency was specifically created to enforce and strictly implement federal drug laws. Congress promptly approved­ the decision to create the agency, mostly because of the growing concern over the increase of drug use for recreational purposes in the United States.

During his time, the former president also mandated harsh campaigns like compulsory sentencing and invasive searches without warrants. He also oversaw the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, putting cannabis in the same category as heroin. Nixon ignored studies and recommendations by doctors and professionals to decriminalize the distribution and even possession of cannabis use.

Instead of acting on the recommendations of the Committee that Nixon assembled himself, he declared drug abuse as “public enemy number one” and intensified the war on drugs.

Several experts on the topic especially the proponents of medical marijuana argued with this controversial decision. They claimed that the policy of war on drugs does not really focus on the risks associated with drug use, rather, it revolves around people whom a particular drug may be associated with.

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The first anti-opium laws in the 1870s were directed at Chinese immigrants. The first anti-cocaine laws, in the South in the early 1900s, were directed at black men. The first anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the Southwest in the 1910s and 20s, were directed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans. Today, Latino and especially black communities are still subject to wildly disproportionate drug enforcement and sentencing practices,” http://www.drugpolicy.org writes.

Nixon had some help from Dr. Robert DuPont with this war. The psychiatrist was appointed as the first Director of National Institute on Drug Abuse by the former president.

Looming Return

Attorney General Jeff Sessions invited a small group of drug-policy experts just before California’s medical marijuana’s legalization last January. Sessions wanted medical professionals to do obligatory drug testing as a part of their routine and as a part of primary-care treatment.

One of those purported experts was the former Director of National Institute on Drug Abuse- Dr. Dupont.

Dupont, now 81, was just appointed to the effect of marijuana in regards to the drugged driving topic. According to reports, the former drug critic didn’t disappoint with his radical ideas in curbing the substance from the road.

In 2010, he helped in writing the national model bill that gives the law enforcement officials the right to test anyone who is suspected to drive under the influence of any controlled substance. It will also give power to authorities to conduct arrests if they find even the slightest trace of illegal elements from the suspected motorist.

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The bill does include exemptions for drivers who have prescriptions, but medical marijuana is not included in that exclusion. They disputed that although it is legal, doctors are only allowed to recommend the substance but not to prescribe it. It is also specified in the bill that individuals caught will face sanction even if they are from a state in which cannabis is legal.

Who Benefits from Drug Testing?

Sounding and looking tough on crime in relation to drugs is an easy road to makes nice sound bites and gain a lot of popularity among voters.

A huge industry now surrounds the business of drug testing. One of the earliest to lead the pack was Hoffman-La Roche.

The company started with a lucrative Pentagon contract to conduct tests on Vietnam War Veterans returning from war. Also, the manufacturer of Valium initiated a major lobbying and PR campaign to mobilize the corporate sector in the US to confront the illicit drug problem within their companies. They called the campaign “Corporate Initiatives for a Drug-Free Workplace”.

Lobbyists were employed by the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) to prevent and slow down the decriminalization of marijuana. They were also tasked to create a movement to expand drug testing in workplaces.

This was opposed by a lot of physicians and researchers.

Another infamous beneficiary of drug testing industry was probably Gov. Rick Scott. The politician from Florida conveniently pushed obligatory drug testing in partnership with his wife’s company- Solantic. A $62 million stake was transferred by Scott in Solantic to his wife just a few months before the drug testing was mandated for welfare recipients and state employees.

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Reason for Return?

Finally, one of the most well-known, loud anti-marijuana ‘activist’ Robert DuPont was also reported to receive huge sums from this war on drugs.

The former White House Drug chief runs a corporate drug-testing business called the Bensinger, DuPont & Associates. It is an employee-assistance company and the sixth largest in the nation. They are the ones who give the drug tests for 10 million employees in the US. Their clients include the biggest players in the government and in several industries. American Airlines, Kraft Foods, Johnson & Johnson, from the private sector and the Federal Aviation Administration and even the Justice Department.

The drug tests which was supposed to check the capability of an individual to work was also one of the major criticism of the campaign. Northwestern University researchers even reported that the tests are arguably less important than concentrating on the performance impact of circadian rhythm disruption and overwork.

Furthermore, the tests are more likely to identify cannabis than cocaine, and it does not even detect alcohol- the more common instigator of workplace disasters and accidents.

A lot of observers believe that if the impact in the workplace is the main point of such examinations, performance-based tests would be far more effective and rational.

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