Drug Czar's Office Withheld Alcohol Data From Report on Drugs and Crime, Now Refuses to Release It

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UPDATE: Drug Czar's Office Admits to Omitting Alcohol Data From Drug and Crime Report

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released a study last week that found the majority of arrestees in five metropolitan areas tested positive for marijuana at the time they were booked, and that many other arrestees tested positive for harder drugs. There was one drug missing from the report, however, and it appears it was omitted intentionally. That drug is alcohol.

When I wrote up the 2012 annual report on the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program II, I noticed that the methodology section contained a list of "data domains"; basically, a guide to the questions researchers asked each arrestee. Every question listed had a corresponding chart in the findings section of the report, save one: The data that researchers collected about alcohol consumption--how often arrestees had consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a single session over the last three, seven, and 30 days, as well as in the past 12 months--was omitted from the report.

Reason.comReason.com

Curious as to why the ONDCP report contained data about where arrestees had purchased drugs (apartment, outdoors) and their method of acquisition (cash, barter, theft), but not how often they'd engaged in heavy drinking in the days leading up to their arrest, I asked ONDCP Communications Director Rafael Lemaitre why answers to the alcohol question had been omitted from the report. His first response was to accuse me of pushing a conspiracy:

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While Lemaitre was right that researchers did not test arrestee urine for alcohol, that's not what I asked him. What I wanted to know was why the dataset about alcohol was omitted from the report. So I sent Lemaitre a screenshot from the report with the alcohol data domain circled in red. At this point, Lemaitre changed his tune: 

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I responded by telling Lemaitre that I didn't question the survey's value, only why the alcohol data was withheld and where I could get it. Once again, Lemaitre redirected: 

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That exchange happened Friday. Today is Tuesday. Lemaitre hasn't responded to my queries over Twitter, or contacted me at the email address I provided. There's a good chance that he won't, and that a FOIA request will be the only way to get the alcohol data that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy withheld from its report on drugs and crime.

As for why it matters: Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske argued in a Thursday speech at the Urban Institute that the ADAM II findings demonstrate why Americans must "come to grips with the link between crime and substance use," and "abandon simplistic bumper-sticker approaches, such as boiling the issue down to a ‘war on drugs’ or outright legalization.” Kerlikowske also singled out pot for criticism because a majority of arrestees tested positive for, or admitted to, using marijuana.

I have no idea why the ONDCP withheld alcohol data from its report, but the obvious answer is that alcohol has a higher criminal cost and is probably more prevalent among arrestees than illicit drugs. Yet admitting as much in the ADAM II report would have precluded Kerlikowske and the ONDCP from making its bogus "link" argument about marijuana and other illegal drugs. 

Regardless of why the ONDCP admitted alcohol data, for transparency's sake they need to release it.

2012 ANNUAL REPORT: ARRESTEE DRUG ABUSE MONITORING PROGRAM II by Mike Riggs

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  • Irish||

    Nice conspiracy theory, but Adam II does not test for alcohol in the first place.

    Why is it that anyone who thinks someone might be untrustworthy is labeled a 'conspiracy theorist?' So is any claim that anyone might be untrustworthy a conspiracy theory now? Should we just take everyone at their word, regardless of how scummy they seem?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Adam 11? Is that a reboot/prequel of Adam 12?

  • ||

    I thought it was a prequel of Ocean's 11.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    It recasts Shia Leboef as Pete Malloy, but Kent McCord actually appears as a time-traveling Jim Reed who comes back to prevent the Rodney King beating (from being filmed and released to the media).

  • ||

    Adam 13's incipient Negritude will come as a pleasant surprise to his honorary aquarium parents, Ralph Bunche and Ida Lupino.

  • Smells Like Tom Skerritt||

    "Adam 11? Is that a reboot/prequel of Adam 12?"

    Do not fuck with Adam 12 TOS.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And its pairing in the TV of my childhood, Emergency.

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  • Robert||

    What are the 12 TOS of Adam? Do you have to scroll thru them and check the box saying you read them?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    12 ribs? What?

  • Brandon||

    'Conspiracy theorist' is one of those code words to the MSM while a Dem is in the White House. It lets them know who is just a crazy kook asking ridiculous questions that they shouldn't be asking themselves. Because they are ridiculous.

  • anon||

    Is anyone else starting to get the feeling they just apply "conspiracy theorist" to anyone that's asking a relevant question to which the answer might just be ... what's the word ... shameful?

  • Irish||

    Remember, pointing out that the administrations claims about the cause of the Benghazi attack bore no resemblance to the truth is just a conspiracy theory.

    Clearly facts are just tools that conspiracy theorists use to undermine the glorious will of our Dear Leader.

  • Captain Kirk||

    We love Dear Leader...we love him.

  • ||


    Remember, pointing out that the administrations claims about the cause of the Benghazi attack bore no resemblance to the truth is just a conspiracy theory.

    And they would have gotten away with it had it not been for those meddling kids!

    Oops...shoulda said "conspiracy theorists."

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberals truly believe that ad hominems win arguments.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Well they certainly win elections.

  • Libertymike||

    When their people do the vote counting.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nice conspiracy theory.

  • Brandon||

    Isn't that what I said?

  • Bobarian||

    Keep your conspiracies to yourself.

  • Bill||

    Riggs does write for Reason, therefore he is a kook and believes in conspiracy theories. Get with the program!

  • Jim in Denver||

    The Liberal Media worked long and hard to make "conspiracy" synonymous with "crazy", don't mock their efforts!

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  • anon||

    Wait, being drunk at time of arrest or binge drinking the 12 months prior to arrest isn't relevant to a study considering why people get arrested? Does this mean we can scrap DUI laws now? Cause that's what it looks like he's recommending!

    /sic.

    Also, the only reason to withhold data would be to prevent you from drawing a conclusion that might differ from the State's.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nice conspiracy theory you rethuglican dittohead.

  • anon||

    Fuck! You caught me!

    BOMB IRAN! BOMB BOMB IRAN!

    /McCain

  • Jerryskids||

    Nice conspiracy theory you rethuglican dittohead

    Hmmmm.....and have you discussed this with a group who share your theory that there is a conspiracy theory?

    I'm watching you, you whacko.

  • Wind Rider||

    No warrant required!

  • Brett L||

    Wait, being drunk at time of arrest or binge drinking the 12 months prior to arrest isn't relevant to a study considering why people get arrested?

    Most likely it is the only statistically significant indicator. Which totally undermines their idea that drugs should be illegal because they correlate with crime. Well, no. If you beatup your domestic partner or the kids who live with you, you are more likely drunk than under the influence of other drugs.

  • anon||

    Most likely it is the only statistically significant indicator.

    Yeah, was kinda my point; If you release a study (in which you're trying to correlate drug use to crime) that also has data on alcohol use/abuse, I'm nigh certain that you'd see alcohol as the primary correlation.

    They could've done the same bullshit study with pretty much whatever they happen to be trying to ban at the time (smoking, fucking, jerking off) and made up the numbers so long as they're permitted to not include whatever makes their desired numbers look bad.

  • Dweebston||

    On the other hand, alcohol is legal while drugs aren't, so the fact that alcohol correlates with abusive and criminal behavior proves that the WoD is a success.

    Which works if you assume that prohibition has actually kept users from acquiring drugs. It hasn't, but prohibitionists aren't prepared to admit it.

  • tarran||

    Once a generation, the current generation of drug warriors announces that they will perform a comprehensive statistically valid scientifically based review of drugs that will prove once and for all why they should be outlawed.

    And the study invariably undermines or falsifies much of the justifications they had been using for their Taliban style moral crusade.

    And they either modify the survey to get the conclusions they want or memory hole it entirely. The generation that produced the survey then retreats away from science and returns to their tried and true methods of generating moral panics.

    Eventually they pass from the scene and are replaced by a new crop of prohibitonistas who decide that they need to prove once and for all, using science that drugs are evil and against the Koran and the cycle begins anew.

  • Intn'l House of Badass||

    This.

  • shamalam||

    Sadly, this is spot on.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    What, at this point, does it matter?

  • Paul.||

    About that we shall see.

  • Zeb||

    There is great diversity of opinion among both liberals and conservatives on the issue. But I think you are generally right. Liberals want to fine tune the drug war (and possibly rename it). Conservatives seem to either want to lock up the degenerates, or let people make their own mistakes.

  • Paul.||

    Generally, the media and the left see everything through the racial lens, so the only way to get them interested in anything, be that the war on drugs or police brutality, is to see it through a racial lens.

    However, on the War on Drugs, the left have gotten themselves into an impossible conundrum, they've backed themselves into a corner and in the end, they can't back out.

    The left have officially and loudly declared that what you put into your body is not your business, but the business of government apparatchiks. I's all about 'nudging' people in the right direction-- the direction of 'healthy choices' and better health outcomes. They're the party of Public Health, and the party of Public Health has no room for recreational drug use, period, the end.

    The only hope of extracating ourselves from the drug war (in terms of major party support), alas, comes from Republicans. Because some Republicans still pay lip service to smaller government-- or the general idea of getting government out of people's lives. If they can drop their reactionary anti-hippie stance, they have a chance of reducing support for the War on Drugs.

  • Scotticus Finch||

    This is really excellent work, Riggs. Is this what all journalism used to look like (except for the Twitter screenshots)?

  • Paul.||

    That exchange happened Friday. Today is Tuesday. Lemaitre hasn't responded to my queries over Twitter,

    Did you try Facebook? I hear that's what all the young people use.

  • anon||

    Maybe a post card.

  • Jerryskids||

    Riggs is such an insensitive asshole that he expects a drug warrior to answer a question about the war on drugs over the weekend of a holiday specifically set aside to honor our fallen warriors? Sheesh, the guy was probably off privately grieving the loss of so many innocent victims of America's longest war.

  • anon||

    drug warrior grieving over lost lives? Irony win of the day there.

  • Finrod||

    The Drug Czar is the only federal officeholder that is required by law to lie to the American people: he is required to deny any evidence that legalization or decriminalization could improve things.

    This is why I automatically place at zero value anything that comes from that office.

  • Brett L||

    Rafael Lemaitre sounds like the name of some drunk coonass from down the bayou. Being French, redneck and a Federal employee, you probably have to catch him on Wednesday to get any work out of him. Amirite?

  • some guy||

    Monday thru Thursday between 10 and 2, excluding lunch "hour", smoke breaks, holidays, mandatory training days, union meeting days and days when he's using annual leave, sick leave or comp time.

  • Smells Like Tom Skerritt||

    White as rice.

  • wwhorton||

    http://bit.ly/18Bl6bs

    Coonass doesn't imply non-Caucasian.

  • some guy||

    ...Americans must "come to grips with the link between crime and substance use, ..."

    That link only exists because substance use is a crime.

  • DK||

    Mike Riggs: ... Let me know if I need to file FOIA.

    [untweeted reply]
    Rafael Lemaitre: I've sent your request to Lois Lerner.

  • some guy||

    I'm sure everyone associated with Reason is already on the IRS shitlist, including you and me.

  • Dweebston||

    Fine by me. Like wringing blood from stone, in my case.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Jesus. Look at ol' Gil in that pic.

    Guy looks half lit, and the gin blossoms indicate that's how he spends most of his time. No wonder he didn't want the study included; his colleagues would be looking at him like a malformed degenerate.

  • AuH20||

    Can I say that the image of the drug czar as being Gil from the Simpsons is hilarious?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Works for me.

  • AuH20||

    Thanks, government, for giving me yet another example to bring up when I am trying to convince people not to trust you. You're the best!

  • Delorean Dan||

    All of these guys at ONDCP are jackasses. Think about it: if they included the most dangerous and abused drug in the nation, alcohol, they would then have to admit that the "war" is a distraction because they're impotent to control human nature.

    And these slugs would all have to go get real jobs instead of blustering in a made-up inportance and sucking down tax dollars for a facade.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Riggs, release the alt-text!

  • Floridian||

    I think the drug warriors are after alcohol anyways so I don't know why they would hide the data. I know they are trying to lower the bac to 0.05 now, so all in good time booze will be illegal again or at least regulated to the point it is too expensive to drink.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    And the homebrewers will rule the world.

  • Floridian||

    I welcome the variety but worry about going into strangers' basements. I love beer but hate torture. The world is full of hard choices.

  • Andrew S.||

    Until the SWAT raids on suspected homebrewers start up.

  • Floridian||

    That is the torture I was referring to.

  • Anders||

    It wasn't included because it is easily accessible, safe, and rare.

    Oh shit, that's Abortion isn't it?

    Yeah whatever. Look! Squirrel Drone!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'm struck by the stunning lack of professionalism on Lemaitre's part. In response to a question from a reporter, he opts to accuse the reporter of conspiracy theories. If anyone in private industry was caught going on record with that sort of attitude to a customer inquiry or complaint, they'd count themselves lucky to only get called into their boss's office. Have we really gotten to the point where our "public servants" no longer feel the need to hide their contempt for the public with bland bureaucratese?

  • tarran||

    Have we really gotten to the point where our "public servants" no longer feel the need to hide their contempt for the public with bland bureaucratese?

    We aren't their customers.

    Our relationship is that of a shopkeep to the mafia.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, yeah, that's always been true though. I'm surprised it's gotten to the point where they're becoming increasingly indifferent about dropping the mask.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Demographics make their triumph inevitable and irreversible, so excuse them if they want to celebrate a bit. Rest assured, it is all for the Greater Good.

  • Bee Tagger||

    At the risk of helping Lemaitre out, he should consider something like this:

    "Riggs, what are you smokin? Let's get a drink and have a civil conversation about this."

  • Henry the Twooth||

    So . . . will you make a FOIA request? Might as well, as that is the only way to legally oblige them to provide full, unaltered data set.

  • CatoTheElder||

    From the report:

  • CatoTheElder||

    From the report:
    "Only just over a third of ADAM II arrestees in 2012 were charged with felonies ..."

    So about two-thirds must have been arrested for misdemeanors. Hmmm, I wonder what fraction of those were arrested for simple possession of marijuana. It seems obvious that marijuana smokers are more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than non-tokers.

    I didn't read the whole report, but I did search for the word "possession" and couldn't find it. It seems to me that ADAM's findings are valid only if they exclude arrests for possession.

    Am I missing something?

  • GILMORE||

    It seems obvious that marijuana smokers are more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than non-tokers.

    This is the same sort of reasoning that have lead people to cite 'illegal aliens more likely to be criminals'

    with the main 'crime' being 'illegal'.

    QED!

  • Captain Kirk||

    Good find Mr. Riggs. Look forward to seeing what Mr. Riggs and Reason publish if and when their FOIA request comes through. But who knows, Dear Leader and General Holder may determine that these alcohol/crime stats are classified information related to national security. NO SOUP FOR YOU

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  • Sevo||

    'Most transparent...'
    Not even funny anymore, just pathetic.

  • ||

    How many people have dopers killed behind the wheel as compared to alcoholics again?

  • WomSom||

    Wow man I never thought about it liek that.

    www.GetYourAnon.tk

  • LifeStrategies||

    The taxpayer paid for this report yet is denied access to its findings. Yet more bureaucratic arrogance, this time by ONDCP Communications Director Rafael Lemaitre. Could his lack of accountablity be anything to do with his temerity?

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