By Alfa · Jul 5, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa
    TESTING, TESTING The White House might want to pay attention to the
    conferences sponsored by its Department of Health and Human Services
    (HHS). None of the doctors leading last week's gabfest on "Substance
    Abuse and the American Family" had a kind word for the
    administration's push to institute random drug testing for all students.

    The treatment mavens were gathered by the National Center on Addiction
    and Substance Abuse (CASA)-a $70-million, New York-based Beltway
    bandit that's garnered the respectability of a Columbia University
    imprimatur along with funding from big pharmaceutical companies and 12
    different government entities. It boasts "the brightest group of
    individuals ever assembled under one roof to deal with" substance abuse.

    One young panelist-ketamine his particular route to
    transcendence-spoke of the salutary episode when his parents had him
    first jailed and then locked on a psycho ward. (This, though he was
    working two jobs at the time and doing well in school.) Cornell
    Medical Center's Dr. Ralph I. Lopez said parents should ban all booze
    from the home if they expect their kids to shun reefer. ("You can't
    expect kids to go to church if you don't go yourself.")

    The prospect of widespread and ever-more sophisticated testing was
    greeted with disdain. Duke University's Dr. Cynthia Kuhn said that
    random drug testing doesn't actually decrease student drug use.
    Rather, it just reflects "the country's sense of desperation about
    drugs" and is part of the Bush administration's "punitive and
    legalistic approach." Said Dr. Ross B. Brower, a Cornell psychiatrist:
    "Testing to find a lot of low-level marijuana users [yields] pretty
    useless information."

    The 120 attendees didn't raise a clamor for citizens to offer up their
    bodily fluids. They were more concerned with how families could pay
    for treatment. One panelist whose kids had gone haywire said parents
    remain in denial because they can't afford treatment. A counselor in
    the audience described the typical four days of in-patient treatment
    covered by many insurance plans: two group sessions and a single
    appointment with a therapist.

    There was a call for the HHS assistant secretary in the room, Wade F.
    Horn, to respond, but he remained seated. Earlier, he'd spoken of
    family dinners growing up that lasted for three hours or more. As a
    result, all of the seven kids in his family had achieved matrimony and
    none were substance abusers. ("Family Day-A Day to Eat Dinner with
    Your Children," is CASA's current big push.)

    Interestingly, CASA let the White House pay for this month's white
    paper on marijuana that bears the subtitle "Rite of Passage or Russian
    Roulette?" But it goes off the reservation, stating that medical
    marijuana use should be decided by doctors and scientists.

    Has anyone told Karl Rove about this?

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