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4 Industries Getting Rich Off the Drug War

In a 2011 interview, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that legalization is “not likely to work” because “there is just too much money in it.” Clinton was talking about cartels, but the same holds true for the legal industries that owe their profit margins, market shares, and—in some cases—very existence to the war on drugs. Here are four industries you might not realize profit off the drug war.

4.) The Drug Testing Industry

One of the highlights of President Barack Obama’s 2012 Drug Control Policy report is a section encouraging drug-free workplace programs, which the report touts as “beneficial for our labor force, employers, families, and communities in general.” The report also alludes to the administration’s commitment to funding research for an oral drug test that can be conducted alongside a urine analysis.

An entire testing industry helped make those policies a reality, and is pushing for their expansion. One industry group, the Drugs of Abuse Testing Coalition, has spent $90,000 already in 2011-2012 lobbying for “Medicare reimbursement codes and payment rates for qualitative drug screen testing.” Another group, the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association, has retained the lobbying shop Washington Policy Association since at least 1999, but according to its filings, has spent less than $10,000 per year on lobbying since then. Another drug testing company, Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, was started by former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and former White House drug chief Robert DuPont.

These groups have successfully pushed for the passage of drug testing laws and regulations across the country, and were behind the Drug Testing Integrity Act of 2008, which made it illegal to buy, sell, manufacture, or advertise “cleansing” products that promise to help consumers “defraud a drug test.” A new federal law that allows states to drug test people seeking public assistance is proving to be another boon to such companies: Florida has already spent $118,140 testing welfare applicants; or, $45,780 more than it would have spent if it had just given welfare to the 108 applicants who tested positive for drugs.

3.) The Alcohol Industry

Marijuana legalization advocates like to point out that pot is safer than alcohol, if for no other reason than no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. They also like to point out that the booze industry has been working to subvert drug policy reform for decades, at least going back to the early 90s when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) FOIA’d the donation records for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and found that it had accepted large donations from Jim Beam and Anheuser Busch.

Alcohol companies were less obvious about their opposition to legalization after being outed by NORML. That lasted until September 2010, when the California Beer and Beverage Distributors donated $10,000 to a police-run campaign opposing Proposition 19, California’s marijuana legalization initiative. ...continues...

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