Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A Dubious Choice for Drug Czar
Obama should just say no to Congressman Ramstad.
At the Huffington Post, Maia Szalavitz deconstructs the exaggerated outcome data being used by Minnesota Teen Challenge (MNTC) to document the supposed effectiveness of their addiction treatment program. Plenty of treatment programs inflate their success numbers, knowingly or unknowingly, by using flawed statistics to support their arguments. Often--as in this case--there is no control group, thereby making firm statements about the “success” of a treatment all but impossible to prove.
So why bother pointing out such obvious problems in the case of Minnesota Teen Challenge? Primarily, Szalavitz writes, because “the sole sponsor of an earmark providing $235,000 to Minnesota Teen Challenge, a branch of a national anti-addiction group which believes that recruiting people into the Assemblies of God ministry will cure their addiction,” was none other than Jim Ramstad (R-Minnesota) a populist conservative Obama is considering as the nation’s new “Drug Czar.”
(Earlier this year, Congressman Ramstad came out in opposition to plans for the crescent-shaped Flight 93 Memorial Project, arguing that the design had “Islamic features.”)
NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, gives Ramstad a grade of 30, indicating a “hard-on-drugs” stance. Ramstad, an alcoholic in recovery, backs expanded drug testing for federal employees, and beefed-up military patrols along the Mexican border in order to battle “drugs and terrorism.”
Unfortunately for the country’s hard drug addicts, Ramstad is also adamantly opposed to such things as needle exchange programs and medical marijuana.
No word yet from Ramstad on sentencing issues or the matter of addiction treatment rather than incarceration.