Daily Beast 1/3/18
A adviser on marijuana policy to Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to see doctors make drug testing a routine part of primary-care medicine and force some users into treatment against their will, he told The Daily Beast.
Dr. Robert DuPont was among a small group of drug-policy experts invited to a closed-door meeting with Sessions last month to discuss federal options for dealing with the rapid liberalization of state marijuana laws. California became the sixth state to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use on Jan. 1.
DuPont, 81, is one of the most influential drug warriors of the past century. He began his career as a liberal on drug control in the 1970s, calling then for the decriminalization of marijuana possession and launching the first U.S. methadone treatment program for heroin in Washington, D.C. in 1971. By the 1980s, he shifted to the right, popularizing the claim marijuana was a “gateway drug.”
At the December 2017 meeting with Sessions, DuPont was slated to present on “the effect of marijuana on drugged driving,” a topic on which he has proposed some radical ideas.
A national model bill he helped write in 2010 called on law enforcement to test anyone stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence for all controlled substances, and arresting them if any trace at all shows up in their system—regardless of the amount. While the bill includes an exemption for drivers who consumed a drug pursuant to a prescription, it would not apply to medicinal-marijuana users because doctors are not currently allowed to prescribe pot, only offer a recommendation for its use.
The bill’s language makes clear that these people will still face sanction even if they live in a state in which medical marijuana is legal.
“[The] fact that any person charged with violating this subsection is or was legally entitled to consume alcohol or to use a controlled substance, medication, drug, or other impairing substance, shall not constitute a defense against any charge,” it reads.
But even that’s not the worst of it.
The bill includes a section prohibiting the “Internal Possession of Chemical or Controlled Substances.”
“Any person who provides a bodily fluid sample containing any amount of a chemical or controlled substance… commits an offense punishable in the same manner as if the person otherwise possessed that substance,” it reads, adding in a footnote: “This provision is not a DUI specific law. Rather, it applies to any person who tests positive for chemical or controlled substances.”
Asked to comment on whether Sessions was aware of DuPont’s proposal to penalize drug users who may not even be under the influence behind the wheel, and if he supports it, a Justice Department spokesperson chose to focus on the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
“The Controlled Substances Act was enacted by Congress to comprehensively restrict and regulate numerous drugs, including marijuana,” said DOJ spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam, in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “Further, the attorney general agrees with the Centers for Disease Control that driving while impaired by marijuana is dangerous as it negatively affects a number of skills required for safe driving.”