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Barthwell surfaces in a bizarre article from Williamsburg

In today’s Virginia Gazette: Drug Forum Draws National Interest by editor Rusty Carter.
Well, it drew my interest as well, for a couple of reasons…

Drug prevention is so high on the radar screen that the White House is watching how a local initiative plays out.

The Historic Triangle Substance Abuse Coalition is hosting a town hall Wednesday night about the pros and cons of testing student athletes. A press conference has been scheduled to draw more attention, and a dozen students were planning a pro-testing picket.

That’s right. Students were planning on protesting with picket signs demanding that they be required to pee in a cup.
Times have changed since I went to High School. I remember there were things that upset us, but the lack of a requirement to get drug tested to be an athlete wasn’t one of them.
Of course, you may say to these picketers, “Go ahead. Get tested. Nobody’s stopping you.” Ah, but that’s not really what they want. They want everyone else to be tested, too.
Further in the article, this paragraph jumped out and smacked me in the face:

More promotion came from Dr. Andrea Barthwell, herself a former deputy drug czar who now works on the local level in Chicago against marijuana usage. She helped defeat an Illinois bill to legalize marijuana.

???
Other than the fact that there hasn’t been a bill to legalize marijuana in Illinois, that Andrea was exposed as a liar, and that now she’s actually working selling marijuana… well, she was a former deputy drug car — that part’s true.
Here’s my letter to Rusty:

Dear Mr. Carter,

I was… surprised by a couple of things in your article today.

First: you said: ” More promotion came from Dr. Andrea Barthwell … She helped defeat an Illinois bill to legalize marijuana. ”

There was no bill to legalize marijuana in Illinois. There was a bill to stop arresting specific categories of sick people who use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, but that’s a far cry from marijuana legalization. And to say that Andrea helped defeat the bill is generous at best. She created a series of programs with which she tried to influence legislation, but those fell apart when it turned out she had lied about her sponsors. She refused to debate the Congressman who sponsored the legislation, and didn’t even show up for the hearing. Instead, at taxpayer expense, the Drug Czar himself came to interfere with the Illinois legislature.

You also say that she “now works on the local level in Chicago against marijuana usage.” On the contrary. She has been hired by GW Pharmaceuticals to lobby for the approval of liquid marijuana (Sativex) in the United States.

Obviously the issue of drug testing is one that you have to deal with at your local level. Maybe drug testing is right for you, but you’re going to need to seriously analyze the costs — in terms of dollars, trust, and respect. Do you test athletes? All those in extra-curricular activities? What about those borderline kids who will be deterred by the notion of drug tests from participating in positive activities that could actually help them avoid drugs? Are you actually driving them further to drugs by having a testing program? What about the fact that the most comprehensive study of drug testing in schools shows that it doesn’t work?

All of these things I urge you to consider and analyze for yourselves. But before you get excited about national attention — be aware that one reason that issue is on the radar at the national level is that the drug testing industry is becoming a huge business. Many of these people don’t care about your kids at all. Only the business of the drug war.

Sincerely,

Pete Guither, Drug WarRant

References:

If I left anything out, please feel free to write your own letter to editorATvagazette.com. As always, be polite.
UPDATE! In the article, it noted that Andrea Barthwell…

enlisted the help of John Pastuovic, whose Chicago public relations firm specializes in issues promotion. He’s sent alerts to local and national media about Wednesday’s press conference, including to the networks, cable news and major newspapers.

Turns out that John Pastuovic is also the U.S. Public Relations contact for… [drum roll] …GW Pharmaceuticals (makers of the liquid marijuana called Sativex).

[Thanks to Tim Meehan and Dan Forbes for the heads up]

So what’s really going on here?

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