Barthwell and Bensinger

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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27 Responses to Barthwell and Bensinger

  1. claygooding says:

    Will start compiling a list of drug war profiteers here and now:

    McGafferty(SP)former drug czar now runs a consultant company for,,you guessed it,drug screening programs for industries and large employers.

    Feel free to add all former advisors,admin or deputy admin. of DEA/ONDCP/NIDA

    • allan says:

      I’m game, but let’s put the companies’ (+ their URLs when possible) names w/ the prohibs. I’d love to see the list grow and be widely shared.

    • claygooding says:

      BR McCaffrey Associates LLC provides strategic, analytic, and advocacy consulting services to businesses, non-profits, governments, and international organizations. We also work with clients to generate investment or non-profit funding. Our purpose is to get specified results for clients who want action.

      On a retainer basis, McCaffrey Associates provides strategic planning support to client CEOs, Board Chairmen, and senior corporate leadership. We will help build linkages between government and private sector clients; design public relations, media, advertising and legislative strategies; and provide client specific analysis of U.S. and international political and economic issues. McCaffrey Associates will also undertake on a success fee basis to shape client business and investment partnerships.

      They have removed their listing themselves as consultants for drug screening programs,,I suppose going to any articles with quotes by him and telling the world he is a war profiteer has him removing links to that. Now he is a lobbyist,,probably for ONDCP funding for foreign drug agencies.

    • John Lovell is among this group:

      The 9 Most Loathsome Lobbyists

      “…he has constructed an entire business model predicated on pot prohibition”.
      Lovell’s firm was paid over $386,350 from a wide array of police associations, including the California Police Chiefs Association during the California proposition 19 campaigns.

      Current Clients Include:
      California Police Chiefs Association
      Legislative Report
      Bill Positions
      California Narcotics Officers Assocation
      Legistlative Report
      California Association of Code Enforcement Officers
      Legislative Report
      California Correctional Supervisors Organization
      Legislative Report

  2. “Send ‘Em To Jail That Day!” The Newest Frontier in the Drug War and the People Who Make Millions from It

    Lets not forget Dr. Robert L. DuPont

    He used to pull for for marijuana. Then he realized his position. He got in on the bottom floor. He helped make the bottom floor!

  3. kaptinemo says:

    After WW1, in order to find out which arms companies had literally ‘made a killing’ off of overcharging the public, Congress convened the Nye Committee. Like the Church Committee many years later, it came up with politically explosive results. And like the Church Committee, was pretty much railroaded when it started to get into the real meat of the matter.

    What’s needed is a Committee to investigate the excesses of the DrugWar. But with ‘both’ parties accessories to the collective crime, I wouldn’t expect much…

  4. Jean Valjean says:

    It is not just lazy media in the US that has been duped by La Barfwell. Her traveling con show also took in Narcotics Anonymous in London where she engaged in “discussions” with the NA Public Information committee. No doubt she saw the committee members as “useful idiots” in her employer’s campaign to keep cannabis illegal so that Sativex would enjoy a monopoly on cannabis products. I’m sure they swallowed her “cruel hoax” meme as compatible with their practice of total abstinence. She was then able to claim that NA supported her plan to keep MMJ illegal to protect those who are vulnerable to addiction. This is Sativex’s whole spiel, to provide MMJ in a very expensive and profitable aerosol form with dose control included. I have found that over-zealous NA members are often in favor of continued prohibition until they are asked if their sons or daughters would benefit from being arrested. I did attempt to explain to the PI committee in London that Barfwell, then running for the Senate, had made a political career out of demonizing addicts and jailing them for long periods. I’m not sure how successful I was.

    • Ms. Barthwell should take 12 steps off of an 11 step pier says:


      Jean, you shouldn’t judge a book by your biased perception of its cover. I think you’d be shocked at the number of members who believe that their addiction was a horrid time in their lives and that they didn’t need the police and the Courts adding to it.

      But the real shocker for you might be the number of old timers who will tell you that it doesn’t matter to them which way it goes. The 10th Tradition of N.A. says:
      Narcotics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the NA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

      I’m sure you can dig up a not insubstantial number of N.A. members who are all gung ho about continued prohibition. I’ll also bet that a very minuscule number of that cohort has more than 2 years of sobriety under their belts.

      The prohibitionists would love to use N.A. to further their sick agenda. I’m not holding my breath while waiting for the 12 steppers to agree to it.

  5. .. says:

    “That’s why I’ve teamed up with former Democrat Congressman Patrick Kennedy and conservative author David Frum to support a new initiative to protect young people from drugs and roll back recent advances by groups seeking to expand drug use through legalization.” —Ron Nehring

    So what have they done to poor kev-kev?

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Oh-oh, maybe the wrong veterinarian saw him when he was foaming at the mouth and put him down. Oh poodles, I’m still daydreaming.

    • Jean Valjean says:

      Nehring hits every single one of the SMART talking points. Must have paid attention at the briefing.
      anyone seen kev? anywhere?

      • allan says:

        maybe Kev-kev got hired by Kleiman and is moving to WA…

        … or he has just been hired in CO to do what Mark was hired to do in WA (which is – to make legalization not work)

        • Jean Valjean says:

          kleiman is dubious enough as WA legalization czar (or whatever his title is), but kevin in CO? that is scarey…

  6. Servetus says:

    Lest we forget, Mr. Bensinger, to his discredit, was also the first drug bureaucrat to promote the enactment of forfeiture/confiscation laws, beginning in 1978. It wasn’t his idea. A Florida citizen wrote Bensinger with the suggestion, much like the guy in Fresno who suggested 3-strikes laws when Pete Wilson was California governor.

    I don’t have the Floridian’s name. Therefore, all complaints about forfeiture should be directed to Peter J. Bensinger, at Bensinger, DuPont and Associates. Mr. Bensinger doesn’t list his email address, so BDA’s COO Marie Apke can be emailed at: .

  7. Knee deep in philosophical wax says:


    One of the most precious traits frequently found in the sycophants of prohibition is when somebody posts a link to the NORML web site or its equivalent. Very frequently their reaction is to scoff, say NORML has an agenda so they’re not credible. Then they’ll post up a link to the ONDCP website. Oh well, I guess that prohibitionism and hypocrisy go hand in hand.

    Here’s something I’d like to figure out. Has NORML ever been caught actually telling any half truths designed to make the listener infer something that’s actually bull shit? How about bald faced lies? I’m sure they’ve issued some hysterical rhetoric but not all that much, and did so because they let emotion get the better of them. That’s called being human. The prohibasites hysterical rhetoric is produced in a calculated way in order to cause those false inferences in their sycophants. There’s also no federal law which compels NORML to issue bald faced lies or hysterical rhetoric PRN.

    • Opiophiliac says:

      Has NORML ever been caught actually telling any half truths designed to make the listener infer something that’s actually bull shit? How about bald faced lies?
      I would say this qualifies as misleading, if not a half truth:

      As amusing as the image is, Queen Victoria would not have smoked a joint even if she had used marijuana. For one thing, such behavior would be quite incongruous for a monarch who hated the fumes from tobacco and banned smoking of any kind in her court. But the question is about more than a matter of the Queen’s personal taste; if she had used cannabis as a prescription medicine supplied by Dr. Reynolds, it most likely would have been prepared by brewing a tea that included cannabis seeds or by stirring the seeds into a glass of water. Although drinking or eating a drug for medicinal purposes suggests future intoxication, such methods of ingestion would have been considered more genteel at the time. Smoking a drug was always perceived as solely recreational and intoxicating, not medicinal. Of course, a cartoon of the famously proper queen sitting on her throne sipping a cup of tea would not have quite the same impact as the image NORML went with.

      link to article w/ image of Queen Victoria smoking a joint. Although I thought the poor solubility of cannabiniods in water would make tea a poor delivery method. Unless it was some sort of buttered tea or something.

      Yeah its a pretty pathetic example. Nothing the reform groups come up with compares to the lies told to maintain prohibition.

  8. Windy says:

    OT but important for WA MMJ patients, growers and dispensaries (looks like Kev-Kev had some undue influence):
    Sensible Washington sez:
    Senate Bill SB 5887, a measure to add further restrictions on patients, as well as hand the medical cannabis industry to the Liquor Control Board (makes no sense), has been given a public hearing, which will take place tomorrow at 8AM (the bill also adds a 20% tax).

    We urge you to contact the members of this committee (at the link below), asking them to oppose this measure!

  9. Servetus says:

    The Russian government responded to the U.S. Magnitsky Act by putting 18 Americans on a no-visa list as undesirables. One is Bush torture lawyer John Yoo. Others include a federal judge, one FBI agent, and four U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents . The four DEA agents were involved in the case of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian commercial pilot convicted for drug smuggling who received 20-years in a U.S. prison for alleged activities in Liberia, not the U.S.

  10. Medicinal pot foes have say at MVCC
    Barthwell,Bensinger, and Dr. Robert DuPont
    tagteam. Are these guys doing a circuit?

    On the bright side:
    Adequate and Well-Controlled Studies Proving Medical Efficacy of Cannabis Exist but Are Ignored by Marijuana Schedulers

  11. Jean Valjean says:

    “Why isn’t there an outpouring of interest in this from drug companies? If this was going to be a blockbuster drug, they’d be doing it,” said Dr. Andrea Barthwell, of Two Dreams, a drug treatment service in Chicago. “If all the (medical) conditions could be assisted by marijuana, they’d be interested. We’re only talking about this as a way to open the gates (of legalization of marijuana). This is the camel’s nose under the tent.”
    Even by Barthwell’s rock-bottom standards this is disingenuous if not downright corrupt. She makes no mention of her lucrative vested interest in sativex, who are pursuing this “blockbuster drug” for all they are worth, and she is described simply as associated with a drug treatment service. No mention of her near decade of lobbying on behalf of sativex or mention of the financial loss they could incur if MMJ or regulated legalization is rolled out in more states.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      It may be because she’s no longer part of GW Pharmaceuticals. How many years can Sativex approval be imminent before the word imminent is inappropriate? I’ve been hearing that since 2010. Isn’t there a point when the word “imminent” becomes not only inappropriate but absurd?

      The start of Ms. Barthwell’s association with GW Pharmaceuticals dates back at least 8 years. If anyone with even a little bit of horse sense thought her influence would cause it to be approved by the FDA, they would have abandoned that thought years ago. In reality: she ripped off GW Pharma with the promise of influence, then discarded them as if they were used toilet paper. She hasn’t been associated with GWP since at least 2011.

      P.S. I do have a vested financial interest in GW Pharma holding a substantial (for me) amount of common stock. Don’t expect me to apologize for believing in the medicinal utility of cannabis or my belief that its utility will only be realized through traditional medical business practices.

      I’ll never get why so many people on my side of the table have such animosity for GW Pharma. It just doesn’t make any sense. None at all. (4/20/2005)

      • Jean Valjean says:

        I would advise you to hedge on your GWP stock… seems pretty high risk with the way things are going at the moment if they have both the FDA prohibs and drug law reformers against them.

      • datkcycle says:

        Well, it may be premature to dump GWP. Recall that just last month they were awarded a sweeping new patent that covers ALL aspects of cancer treatment with cannabinoids.

      • kaptinemo says:

        You wonder why? Perhaps this might help explain why so many are intensely distrustful of GW Pharma’s efforts.

        From the article:

        “The Vancouver Island Compassion Society also produces a cannabis spray, albeit a much simpler version. Unlike Sativex, which is a patented medicine, the Society’s spray is a tincture of cannabis administered via a vapourizer called Cannamist. Last May, Lucas received a foretaste of possible legal battles to come with GW, Bayer AG, and its subsidiary Bayer Canada, when he described Cannamist at a medical marijuana conference held by a group called Patients Out of Time, at the University of Virginia. Geoffrey Guy happened to be in the audience, and afterward approached Lucas and asked him if he’d had a chance to look at the any of the many patent applications GW has for Sativex. “He said it with a twinkle in his eye,” recalls Lucas, “but with firmness in his voice.”

        There is no question that GW plans to enforce its patents on Sativex, which is a precisely dosed medicine. Warns Guy: “To protect our extensive investment, we have sought to identify and patent certain inventions throughout the growing, extraction and manufacturing process. My comments to Mr. Lucas were made as a friendly and, hopefully, helpful gesture as I did not wish him to invest a great amount of effort into obtaining approval for a product as a prescription medicine only to find that he did not have the freedom to operate in the first place.”

        Guy’s warning was reiterated shortly after I arrived in England to interview him, when Mark Rogerson, GW’s grey-templed, elegantly dressed, public-relations man, met me at the Oxford train station. “Once it’s approved and Sativex becomes a medicine under the law, there needs to be a minor change in legislation so it can be prescribed,” he said, as he steered his Hyundai (his Audi was in the shop) into near-gridlock. “The Home Office has already said they will do that, and then patients will be taking a legal medicine. But if you are an MS sufferer, it would still be illegal for you to grow cannabis at the bottom of the garden to treat your symptoms. Our medicine will be legal, but anything else will not be.” (Emphasis mine – k.)

        Trust that ? You can just imagine him chortling with glee and rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the day when those patents are all sewn up and the MMJ dispensaries can be legally crushed for patent violations, clearing the way for a Big Pharma monopoly on cannabis-based meds.

        I submit that this is the REAL reason behind all the recent dispensary raids in CA; the patent cats are about to be let out of the corp-rat lawyer’s bags. Hence the seeming mad scramble to patent what was previously thought impossible to patent.

        • kaptinemo says:

          Another article might help explain what seems to be happening. It’s not pretty: Treating Yourself – Meet Dr. Frankenbeanstein

          From the article:

          “Recently (ca. 2009 – k.) Dr Frankenbeanstein testified at another conference in Canada against the use of industrial hemp in Canada! GW Pharm/Hortapharm are scared of the hemp industry, why? You see, low industrial hemp produces GW’s miracle drug, CBD as a by product! There is primariy one gene that tells a plant to be either a primary CBD producer or a primary THC producer! The Bd gene produces the enzyme that converts cannabigerol into CBD, and the gene Bt gene produces enzyme that converts cannabigerl into THC. If a plant inherits a Bt gene from each parent it will only produce low cannabigerol of CBD, and visa versa if it gets a Bd gene from each parent. If it receives a Bd from one parent, and Bt from another, it will be roughly 50/50 chemotype, but this is not true breeding. Most herb in the med clubs is homozygous for BT, meaning that it does not produce appreciable amounts of CBD. Since CBD actually blocks the psychoactive effects of THC, it was selected against by American breeders, even though it is extremely effective in boosting the medical efficacy of cannabis, especially with regards to degenerative nervous condition, without any psychoactivity! CBD by itself has also been shown to be very effective in treating anxiety disorders with effectiveness of valium and other benzo drugs, without the extreme addictiveness and potential for overdose! Valium and benzos are the most dangerous drugs to detox from! Their withdrawal many times worse than crack or heroin!,

          The only time cannabis users ever really had assess to a higher level of CBD was with hashish farmed with populations with varying ratios of Bd and Bt genes! So as it stands now, CBD is not available to any real extent to medical cannabis users! If industrial hemp farmers were to catch on, that they’re producing a very needed medicine, it will harm GW Pharm/Hortapharm!

          Always follow the money, and if it’s hidden, then always follow the greed, as it leads to the money.

  12. Servetus says:

    Dr. Andrea Bartwell, Q.D. (Quack Doctor).

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