Marijuana Prohibitionists and Profiteers: Naked Opposition Exposed in The New York Times

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director February 27, 2012

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    I often say to staff, supporters and the media that: We’re blessed by our opponents to cannabis law reform!”

    A few weeks ago the New York Times featured a straight forward story during these recessionary times about local and state governments with legal protections for medical cannabis patients struggling to cobble together taxation and other revenue streams derived from medical cannabis in the face of federal recalcitrance and outright law enforcement opposition.

    The national affairs story is almost a no-brainer that wrote itself regarding this clear conflict between state and federal governments over the country’s festering 74-year old and increasingly unpopular Cannabis Prohibition.

    While not clear if whether or not an indication of the dearth of letters received by the NYT on the subject matter (i.e., meaning the subject matter was not controversial), or, the letters’ editors casting needed public light on the kind of remaining, almost teetering and naked public opposition that solidly supports another eight decades of the failed and expensive public policy of Cannabis Prohibition, the publishing of only these two letters, from such clearly bias sources, is potentially revealing.

    The first letter is from a drug rehabilitation center CEO in NYC (back in the late 1980s and throughout most of the 1990s, one of the most frequently published commentators and letter writers in the New York Times against virtually any pro-cannabis law reforms was Mitchell Rosenthal of Phoenix House, another drug rehabilitation provider like competitor Odyssey House. Not too surprisingly the current CEO of Odyssey House used to be employed at Phoenix House….).

    The second letter is from a decidedly unsurprising duo of longtime anti-cannabis propagandists and prohibition profiteers, former National Institute of Drug Abuse head Robert DuPont, M.D. (who, as director of NIDA, at one time publicly supported major cannabis law reforms, including decriminalization) and former Drug Enforcement Administration honcho Peter Bensinger.

    Both the former G-men and current pee testers, like rehabbers Rosenthal and Odyssey House CEO Peter Provet, are now some of the very few and clearly committed individuals remaining in a country with an estimated population in excess of 300 million to consistently write and publish letters to the editors of major newspapers and magazines condemning all things cannabis and favor not only the status quo, but a doubling-down by government passing even more stringent and invasive anti-cannabis laws and enforcement.

    While the NYT correctly identifies these two prohibitionists’ former executive roles in federal government anti-drug bureaucracies going back 30 years ago, what the NYT failed to inform readers is that DuPont and Bensinger are the longtime and current principles of a lucrative drug testing (their company has been chosen by members of Congress to perform individual drug tests) and anti-drug counseling business to Fortune 1000 companies and small businesses.

    As previously stated, currently in America, almost all of the public opposition against cannabis law reform historically comes from government agencies, industries and companies who most financially benefit from the current and failed status quo of Cannabis Prohibition:

    –>Law Enforcement Agencies: Employees from local police to the Drug Enforcement Administration, to sheriffs, prosecutors, probation officers and prison guards, in modern times are usually the first in line, loudest and most strident against ending Cannabis Prohibition in America.

    –>Government Bureaucracies Born of Cannabis Prohibition: DEA, ONDCP, FBI, NIDA, SAMHSA, DARE, PDFA, etc…

    –>Industries and Companies That Will Compete With Legal Cannabis: Tobacco, Alcohol, Pharmaceutical, Wood and Fuel

    –>Industries and Companies That Currently Benefit From Cannabis Prohibition Laws: Private Prisons, Drug Testing, Drug Rehab, Drug Detection Device Makers, Mercenary Private Military Companies That Perform Duties and Actions Once Reserved for the Civilian Military

    The below letters published by the NYT demonstrate how limited, parochial and self-interested today’s anti-cannabis activists are becoming in a country where 50% of the public no longer supports Cannabis Prohibition.


    Taxing Medical Marijuana

    Published: February 23, 2012

    To the Editor:

    Struggling Cities Turn to a Crop for Cash” (news article, Feb. 12) doesn’t mention a major issue of concern that has to be considered before claims of attractive financial benefits from taxing medical marijuana can be made.

    In the states mentioned — California, Colorado, Maine and Oregon — 3.2 million people are not receiving the treatment services they need for drug abuse and dependence. California alone accounts for 2.3 million people with untreated substance abuse disorders.

    Before hard-pressed municipalities, in these and other states around the country, look at medical marijuana as a new source of tax revenue to finance essential services, taxpayers should be given the opportunity to consider allocating some of this money to under-supported treatment and prevention programs.

    This will not mitigate the effects of untreated substance abuse, but it will help send a clear message to young people that marijuana, prescribed or not, has addictive potential that too often requires intensive treatment.

    President and Chief Executive
    Odyssey House
    New York, Feb. 13, 2012




    To the Editor:

    California cities’ meager tax payments are a tiny fraction of the costs of their misguided “medical marijuana” initiatives.

    The taxes imposed on medical marijuana place it in a category with alcohol and tobacco, two legal drugs that demonstrate the same appalling disparity between tax revenues and societal costs. The state and federal alcohol revenue of $14 billion and the $25 billion collected in tobacco taxes in the United States are overshadowed by the $235 billion and $200 billion in social costs they produce, respectively.

    Among all Americans 12 and older who abuse or are dependent on an illegal drug, 60 percent abuse or are dependent on marijuana. Nationally, admissions for primary marijuana use to state-financed treatment have increased by 31 percent from 1998 to 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available).

    California and other states that have legalized medical marijuana face the disturbing reality of the drug’s true costs in long-term health care, increased treatment admissions, loss of productivity at work and at school, and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.

    In addition to the disproportion of small tax revenue compared with large societal costs, medical marijuana sharply increases marijuana use and dependency. With 60 percent more cancer-causing chemicals than cigarettes and four times more tar, making marijuana more available is bad economic policy and bad health care policy.

    Chicago, Feb. 14, 2012

    The writers are, respectively, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, 1976-81; and a psychiatrist and founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1973-78.

    63 Responses to “Marijuana Prohibitionists and Profiteers: Naked Opposition Exposed in The New York Times”

    1. Zombiman says:

      Same old story … greedy, rich, white bastards keeping something away from the masses for their own gain. Weed is NOT addictive, nor does it lead to more drug use in the average person. If you have an addictive personality, sure, but then you need therapy anyway. There are no withdrawal effects from stopping use. At least, if they exist, the withdrawal affects are barely noticable. It is much safer than alcohol and cigarettes by a mile. I would like to challenge any government official to find documented proof of even ONE death linked directly to the use of marijuana… go ahead, i’ll wait….

    2. Theodore says:

      I got my first computer 25 years ago. That’s when I first learned the truth about Marijuana. I wrote dozens of letters to the NYTimes. None were published or answered. After a few years, I gave up and cancelled my subscription. I stopped going to the Times when they started charging for their web edition. I hope anyone reading these words does not subscribe to the Times. Their logo is now ‘All the I got my first computer 25 years ago. That’s when I first learned the truth about Marijuana. I wrote dozens of letters to the NYTimes. None were published or answered. After a few years, I gave up and cancelled my subscription. I stopped going to the Times when they started charging for their web edition. I hope anyone reading these words does not subscribe to the Times. Their logo is now ‘All the Propaganda that’s Fit to Print’.

    3. TylerT says:

      @ letter authors: cite that. Kthx.

    4. There is no way they can still use the same crap excuses. “Oh its a gateway drug” lets be real alcohol and tobacco are killing at an alarming rate and big fat CEO’s are banking on it while providing the funding for all the propaganda against Marijuana.

    5. DC says:

      I see there points,theres another side to everything !!!

    6. john says:

      This is absolute crap, cannabis is not addictive like other drugs for dependency, pain killers are the worse, look at Florida’s pill mills, pharmaceuticals. Someone needs to get on the bandwagon and if they say it has more everything tar etc., you don’t smoke or vaporize as much because cannabis has gotten stronger so you don’t need as much for medical pain or what ailments you have to conquer everyday for a happier life. So you get less of everything bad in it compared to cigarettes because you smoke or vaporize cannabis a lot less compared to smoking cigarettes plus hemp which is a different plant than cannabis, the seeds can be crushed into oil that could solve our gas prices and is much cleaner than fossil fuel. I could go on and on but somebody needs to get on the wagon and take charge. Newt Gingrich talking about Washington telling people not to grow hemp or cannabis was absolutely amazing and wrong, if you were a farmer back in Washington’s days, part of your crop had to consist of hemp for clothing and making rope as well as oil for lamps and food etc. etc., sealing the inside of ships so water couldn’t get in. Sails and ropes were the most important because without them, you don’t have a big enough paddle to move your ship in the water. Hemp is the most nutritional bio product on this earth. Do some research on the internet, you will find out.

    7. mountainhigh50 says:

      Intensive treatment required? Cancer causing? Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha. What blatent bee esss.

    8. MrFlibble says:

      Those opinions are definitely not at all biased or misleading. (obvious sarcasm)

      This is like current politicians. In this day and age of instant global communication these people expect us to believe everything they say within their little bubble of information. Anyone who spends ten minutes searching google will see the truth of their comments and how it’s in their own self interest to avoid ending marijuana prohibition. Obviously someone whose paycheck is dependent upon illegal marijuana will not admit to any of the reasons why marijuana prohibition has failed, nor why it shouldn’t be legalized in a “free” country which has legal alcohol and tobacco.

      Logic is not their strong suit. Using basic math, a product which has 60% more cancer causing chemicals and four times more tar than cigarettes, but which consumers use less than one tenth of the product in weight (not counting water filtration devices mind you) we’re talking about a substance which, by their own provided numbers, is not as harmful as cigarettes.

      The second letter points out how harmful both alcohol and tobacco are to society, yet fails to provide reasoning as to why a substance which is less harmful than both should remain illegal while they are legal.

      The people in these positions fail to learn from history. America came into being because people grew tired of the king of England and his failure to recognize their wishes and rights. The people are growing tired of you, Washington.

      Go back and read the declaration of independence again. What you are doing to us has been done before, and the result was America; Our America, not this corrupted, perverted farce you have created.

      “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    9. steve zissou says:

      ah, the classic bullshit argument that cannabis is an addicting gateway drug. these guys just need to hit the bong

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