Kentucky judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents


As ‘a matter of conscience,’ a Kentucky judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents

By Samantha Schmidt May 1 at 4:22 AM

Photo published for Kentucky judge won't hear adoption cases if adults are gay

Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.

The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.

The announcement garnered support from some conservative groups, while also spurring intense criticism from some lawyers and judicial ethics experts who viewed the blanket statement as discriminatory, and a sign that Nance is not fit to fulfill his duties as a judge. Kentucky state law permits gay couples to adopt children, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must allow same-sex marriage.

That ruling came in four cases consolidated as Obergefell et al. v Hodges, one of which specifically involved a couple who wanted to adopt but was barred from doing so because Michigan banned same-sex marriage and adoption by unmarried couples.

Nance’s recusal drew some comparisons to the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed after she refused in the face of multiple court orders to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying she couldn’t issue the licenses because her name was on them, and it violated her religious beliefs. Eventually, deputies in her office began issuing licenses. Kentucky’s governor and General Assembly would later remove the name of clerks from the marriage licenses.

Reached by phone Sunday night, Nance told The Post he stood by his order, “based on the law, based on my conscience,” and to “minimize any disruption in the litigation,” he said. He declined to comment further on the order or calls from the public for him to resign. But he gave no indication that he would be stepping down.

Nance told the Glasgow Daily Times he issued the order so there wouldn’t be a lag if an adoption case was filed in his court concerning adoption by gay parents. Because Nance’s court, the 43rd Circuit Court, has two divisions, the judge of the other division will hear any adoption cases affected by Nance’s recusal. Gay parents seeking to adopt a child in the affected counties should not expect a legal delay as a result of Nance’s decision.

“I don’t have any plans to recuse myself from any so it should not affect the ability of any same sex couples to adopt in Barren or Metcalfe counties,” the judge of the other division, Judge John T. Alexander, told the Glasgow Daily Times.

Charles Geyl, an Indiana University law school professor who specializes in judicial ethics, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that by issuing such an order, Nance could be violating his oath to uphold the law, “which by virtue of the equal protection clause does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation,” he said.

“If he is unable to set his personal views aside and uphold the law — not just in an isolated case, but with respect to an entire class of litigant because he finds them odious — it leads me to wonder whether he is able to honor his oath,” Geyl said.

Chris Hartman, Kentucky Fairness Campaign director, told the Glasgow Daily Times Nance’s decision not to hear adoption cases for gay parents is “clear discrimination.”

“And if Judge Nance can’t perform the basic functions of his job, which are to deliver impartiality, fairness and justice to all families in his courtroom, then he shouldn’t be a judge,” Hartman said.

Yet other groups, such as the Family Foundation, a Lexington-based group that promotes “family-first conservatism,” expressed their support of the judge’s decision to recuse himself.

“If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality,” spokesman Martin Cothran said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page, “then, in the interest of fairness, we are going to have to allow judges with different views to at least recuse themselves from such cases.”

Cothran added that he was unaware of any state law that would require a judge to place a child in a home with same-sex parents, prompting him to wonder why judges were being held to such a standard.

“When adoption agencies abandon the idea that it is in the best interest of a child to grow up with both a mother and father, people can’t expect judges who do believe that to be forced to bow the knee,” said Cothran. “Judges have a right of conscience like everyone else.”

[‘Mexican heritage’ judge bashed by Trump will oversee deported ‘dreamer’ case]

Lawyers told the Courier-Journal that Nance should now also have to recuse himself from any legal cases involving gay people, including divorces involving a spouse coming out as gay. Nance told the newspaper he understands that gay and lesbian people would have reservations about appearing before him.

Nance, who was first assigned to family court in 2004, performs marriages, but has never been asked to marry a gay couple, he told the Glasgow Daily Times. If he were asked, Nance said he would decline.

He told the Glasgow Daily Times he could recall being assigned to two adoption cases involving gay parents, including one from which he recused himself several years ago. About two to three months ago, Nance was assigned to a case in Metcalfe County involving a same-sex couple seeking to adopt. Nance said he ruled in favor of the parents, but decided then he should take action to recuse himself permanently from hearing such cases.

“It made the matter come to my awareness more directly, I would say,” Nance told the Glasgow Daily Times. “I felt it would be more prudent to go ahead and address it,” he said.

CONTINUE READING…

Marijuana may be legal in California, but it could get you deported


Immigrant rights activists and attorneys are reminding immigrants of potential consequences of using marijuana at a time when President Donald Trump is ramping up deportation efforts.

LEAF 445x451

By Alejandra Molina | amolina@scng.com | The Press-Enterprise

PUBLISHED: April 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm | UPDATED: April 14, 2017 at 10:31 pm

It’s legal in California, but marijuana possession and use is still a federal offense that could cause serious problems for immigrants in the Golden State.

“It is still a federal offense,” said Inland-based attorney Russell Jauregui. “Federal law controls immigration and thus people will still face severe immigration consequences for marijuana conviction/use.”

Undocumented immigrants can be deported for marijuana consumption in certain circumstances and may risk not being admitted back into the United States if they leave.

Immigrant rights activists and attorneys are reminding immigrants of potential consequences at a time when President Donald Trump is ramping up deportation efforts. The White House has said that any immigrant living in the U.S. illegally who has been charged or convicted of any crime, or even suspected of committing a crime, is now an enforcement priority.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, declined to say how the agency deals with immigrants accused or convicted of marijuana crimes in states where it’s legal.

Instead, she reiterated the Department of Homeland Security’s focus on targeting all “removable aliens” who have committed crimes, beginning with those who have been convicted of a criminal offense.

While those who pose a threat to public safety will continue to be a focus, the department will not exempt classes or categories of unauthorized immigrants from potential enforcement, she said.

“All those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” Kice said.

That’s why immigrants need to be aware of consequences surrounding marijuana use, advocates said.

“It could happen that people think that now that it’s legalized, that it would be completely safe, but obviously in this era of increasing concern of criminalization, and the fact that the federal government has said it wants to crack down on marijuana on the federal level, we’re really just trying to help inform and be proactive with immigrants of these concerns,” said Angie Junck, a supervising attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a San Francisco-based national nonprofit agency.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February said that federal officials would try to adopt “reasonable policies” for enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws. Sessions has said he believes violence surrounds sales and use of the drug.

California is home to more than 10 million immigrants, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Nearly half of all of the state’s immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens and another 26 percent have some sort of legal status, including green cards and visas. It’s estimated that about a quarter of California’s immigrants are undocumented.

In a state where the immigrant population is so vast, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in January 2017 issued a flier that spells out what non-U.S. citizens should and should not do when it comes to marijuana.

It advises non-U.S. citizens not to use marijuana until they are citizens, and not to work in marijuana shops. On top of that, it cautions undocumented immigrants not to leave the house carrying marijuana, a medical marijuana card, paraphernalia, or other accessories such as marijuana T-shirts or stickers. Additionally, they should never have photos, text messages or anything else connecting them to marijuana on their phone or social media accounts.

Most importantly, it advises non-citizen immigrants to never admit to any immigration or border official that they have ever have used or possessed marijuana.

What it boils down to, Junck said, is that immigration law is federal and marijuana use remains a federal offense, as well as grounds for deportation.

Marijuana is still listed as an illegal drug in the Controlled Substance Act and the Immigration and Naturalization Act deems drug trafficking an “aggravated felony,” a type of crime that has been a deportation priority.

Lawful permanent residents can be deported for any drug offense, with the sole exception of a conviction for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

And, undocumented immigrants with a drug conviction can face a lifetime bar from ever gaining legal status. The only exception is a single conviction for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, and by showing extreme hardship to certain family members such as a spouse or children.

However, certain provisions under immigration law don’t always require a conviction in order for a person to be considered for deportation.

“Immigrants need to know that they can still face some consequences if they admit marijuana use to an immigration official,” Junck said.

“The biggest concern is admission to an immigration official,” she said.

Immigration officials can stop and ask people whatever they want; it’s just a question of whether the person decides to respond, Junck said. For example, when coming in from customs at the airport, officials can refer someone to what Junck referred to as secondary inspection.

“They may ask questions and those questions can vary from, ‘What’s your immigration status?’ to ‘Have you committed crimes for which you’ve never been arrested?’” Junck said. “Or maybe there’s a basic question that can be like, ‘Have you ever used marijuana?’”

Immigrant rights activists say the implications of admitting marijuana use are not widely known.

“There is a stigma about marijuana use in Latino immigrant communities and we need to erase that stigma if we are going to talk honestly about the legal repercussions of its use for non-citizens,” said Luis Nolasco, an immigrant rights organizer in the Inland Empire. “This is particularly for the older generation of undocumented parents who may have youth that engages in marijuana use.”

For now, it’s mostly unclear how federal authorities are going to address this legal situation. And in states where marijuana is legal, it’s a topic of serious concern for immigration attorneys and their clients.

“Under the Obama administration, I think it was treated more like a wait-and- see where we’re just going to kind of let this evolve,” said David Kolko, an immigration attorney in Colorado, where marijuana is legal.

“Under the Trump administration, I think people need to be even more cautious because there’s been certainly an impression that enforcement is going to be dealt with more aggressively and if they choose to use this marijuana issue as one enforcement tool, I think many immigrants … could be very vulnerable in terms of being able to stay in this country or move forward on their immigration cases,” Kolko said.

CONTINUE READING…

Pope Francis addresses Vatican conference on human right to water


Pope Francis spoke to participants in a Vatican conference on the human right to water, organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences - RV

Pope Francis said the questions concerning the right to water are not marginal, but basic and pressing.  Basic, because where there is water there is life, and pressing, because our common home needs to be protected.

Yet we must also realise, he said, that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality. The right to safe drinking water, he insisted, is a basic human right which cries out for practical solutions and needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy. 

Our right to water, the Pope continued, gives rise to an inseparable duty. Every state, he said, is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the Resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water. Similarly, non-state actors are required to assume their own responsibilities with respect to this right which is so decisive for the future of humanity.  

Noting that every day a thousand children die from water-related illnesses and millions of people consume polluted water, the Pope said we must give high priority to educating future generations about the gravity of the situation. 

We cannot be indifferent to these facts, he said, but rather we must work to develop a culture of care and encounter, in order to make our common home a more liveable and fraternal place, where none are excluded, but all are able to live and grow in dignity.

Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s address:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Conference on the Human Right to Water

Pontifical Academy of Sciences

23 February 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good afternoon!  I greet all of you and I thank you for taking part in this meeting concerned with the human right to water and the need for suitable public policies in this regard.  It is significant that you have gathered to pool your knowledge and resources in order to respond to this urgent need of today’s men and women.

The Book of Genesis tells us that water was there in the beginning (cf. Gen 1:2); in the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, it is “useful, chaste and humble” (cf. Canticle of the Creatures).  The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing.  Basic, because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance.  Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected.  Yet it must also be realized that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality.

All people have a right to safe drinking water.  This is a basic human right and a central issue in today’s world (cf. Laudato Si’, 30; Caritas in Veritate, 27).  This is a problem that affects everyone and is a source of great suffering in our common home.  It also cries out for practical solutions capable of surmounting the selfish concerns that prevent everyone from exercising this fundamental right.  Water needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy.  Our right to water is also a duty to water.  Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty.  We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard.  Every state is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the Resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water.  Similarly, non-state actors are required to assume their own responsibilities with respect to this right.

The right to water is essential for the survival of persons (cf. Laudato Si’, 30) and decisive for the future of humanity.  High priority needs to be given to educating future generations about the gravity of the situation.  Forming consciences is a demanding task, one requiring conviction and dedication.

The statistics provided by the United Nations are troubling, nor can they leave us indifferent.  Each day a thousand children die from water-related illnesses and millions of persons consume polluted water.  These facts are serious; we have to halt and reverse this situation.  It is not too late, but it is urgent to realize the need and essential value of water for the good of mankind.

Respect for water is a condition for the exercise of the other human rights (cf. ibid., 30).  If we consider this right fundamental, we will be laying the foundations for the protection of other rights.  But if we neglect this basic right, how will we be able to protect and defend other rights?  Our commitment to give water its proper place calls for developing a culture of care (cf. ibid., 231) and encounter, joining in common cause all the necessary efforts made by scientists and business people, government leaders and politicians.  We need to unite our voices in a single cause; then it will no longer be a case of hearing individual or isolated voices, but rather the plea of our brothers and sisters echoed in our own, and the cry of the earth for respect and responsible sharing in a treasure belonging to all.  In this culture of encounter, it is essential that each state act as a guarantor of universal access to safe and clean water. 

God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all.  It is my hope that this Conference will help strengthen your convictions and that you will leave in the certainty that your work is necessary and of paramount importance so that others can live.  With the “little” we have, we will be helping to make our common home a more liveable and fraternal place, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity. 

Thank you.

CONTINUE READING…

It was Karl Marx who said, “The family… must itself be theoretically and practically destroyed.”


family-and-law

 

The Ruse of Children’s Rights

By Rosanne Lindsay

We are entering the era of mandates and government invasion, where up is down, privileges are rights, and children are the property of the State. In the land of liberty, all is illusion.

According to William Wagner, J.D., magistrate judge, “Today, a majority of the Supreme Court no longer treats the parents’ right to control and direct the upbringing of their child as a fundamental liberty.”

The denial of parents’ rights by State authorities has become more frequent over the last five decades as government has tested its reach under the color of law. Color of law refers to an appearance of legal power to act but which may operate in violation of law. Case in point: A Medical Kidnap website documents thousands of cases around the country where hospitals have taken possession of children based on a medical diagnosis “in the best interest of the child,” with the court’s approval. Without being reported in the mainstream media, the general population is blind to these acts while unsuspecting families are targeted and picked off one at a time.  After years of market testing, State governments are now unveiling draconian laws without fanfare.

The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth In California

After the turmoil and confusion surrounding the 2015 passage of a mandatory vaccination law SB277 in California to ban children from attending private or public school without full compliance with the CDC childhood vaccine schedule, California proposes SB-18. The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in California (SB-18) seeks to usurp the natural rights of parents as caregivers. Taken together, these two laws set a dangerous precedent that not only spells the end of medical freedom but also the end of parental rights whenever a government official or agency declares it so.

When did an obligation to care for and raise children suddenly turn parents into potential child abusers under the law? Although tyranny seems to have reared its ugly head overnight, history shows we have all been living this ideology under a slow boil. It was Karl Marx who said, “The family… must itself be theoretically and practically destroyed.” He argued fiercely that government and its authority must be substituted for parental authority for the sake of Capitalism. What he didn’t say was his desire to maintain a materialistic, feudal society where people are commodities without consciousness. 

Marxism socializes people to think in a way that justifies inequality by teaching children to accept there will always be someone in authority who they must obey – the Master-Slave dynamic. Marxist philosophy redistributes the wealth to third world countries that have suffered under socialist/totalitarian policies imposed by the same corrupt regimes.

There is no other purpose for anti-social, socialist dictates other than to unravel the fabric of the family. As Confucius said, “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” As the family goes, so goes the nation. 

The strength of this nation has eroded from the inside due to a federal government without accountability, through policies that have: 1) drained the economy with never-ending war, 2) transferred wealth from Main Street to Wall Street, and 3) outsourced American jobs overseas, among other things. The stage has been set for the resurgence of a Marxist State, primed under the guise of liberalism, which pushes vaccine mandates for children while claiming to be the party of choice when it comes to abortion rights. Legislative and judicial overreach has resulted in a new social state where the citizenry, kept in the dark and powerless, are none the wiser.

When Rights Are Legalized

Inherent rights are natural and inborn, granted by the Creator. They come from our humanity under Natural Law, not from man-made laws. Rights granted and legalized by governments are not rights, but privileges that can be restricted and taken away by legislation or Executive Command. Legalese is the hidden language that redefines words as tools to expand the scope and power of the State.  Under statutes, a “person” is a legal fiction, not a human being with free will. At the same time, a “corporation” is defined as “a number of persons united in one body, so it can acquire wealth, expand, and enjoy other rights, even though a corporation is incapable of loyalty or love.

A government that gives itself power by its own authority is a rogue government and must be stopped because the trend is toward a One World Government homogenizing and standardizing all laws under International treaties. (e.g., Trans-Pacific-Partnership trade agreement). FYI: The United Nations (UN) hopes to “reduce inequality” by implementing new norms of global socialism and corporate fascism as part of their Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Global Treaties Usurp National Law

In 2011, the US was the only country that had not ratified a UN International Treaty called the UN Rights of the Child (UNCRC). However, this treaty appears to be the foundation of several U.S. court decisions regarding child placement, as well as the new California law SB -18 the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in California. Like so many laws that do the opposite of their intended purpose (i.e., Clean Skies Act), the Rights of the Child Act strips the child of any rights.

One provision of the UNCRC states that a child’s view should be taken into equal consideration along with the parents. This means anytime there is a conflict between parent and child, a government referee can decide what is in the best interest of the child.  The U.S. courts already control for the “best interests of a child” with a Guardian ad litem” (GAL) to investigate solutions in cases of divorce and parental responsibilities. However, author and Family Psychologist John Rosemond says, “This [Act] is a convention on the stripping of rights from American parents and parents all over the globe.”

In other countries that have adopted the Act’s provisions, like Sweden, home schooling is illegal, and carries the risk of criminal charges and children being removed from the home. In Belgium, doctors can terminate the lives of babies under one year old if the child is disabled. No parental consent is required. President Clinton approved this treaty during his term. The only thing that prevents implementation is a two-thirds approval by the Senate.

California is a testing ground in America. As California goes, so goes the nation. Yet even without formal U.S. ratification of the Act, U.S. federal courts are taking the lead from international law to advance the objectives of the UNCRC. States legislatures are lifting articles straight out of the UN treaty and passing them under new laws (i.e., Customary International Law), thereby making UN law the supreme law of the land. The Legislative and Judicial branches are already joined at the hip with Executive Branch approval. When Child Protective Services acts as child collection agencies then Social Services means the child belongs to the State.

Withdraw Consent

There is a difference between legal and lawful and that distinction is playing out in the American family.

Going forward we must resist playing the their game of claiming “Parental Rights” vs. “Children’s Rights” in a corrupt system that no longer recognizes Inherent Rights.

 

Instead, we must take back the language and determine who we are if we are to retain our Natural Rights and those of our children. Are we a person-corporation or a soul embodied? Do we have free-will or do we ask for permission from an outside authority? Do we consent to the dictates of a rogue government or do we withdraw consent? Do we own our bodies or does the State?  Do we recognize inalienable rights over privileges and act on them? Do we reclaim our sovereignty as free-will beings? It is time to redefine the words we live by to work in our favor.

In the American system no government is sovereign. The peoples of the states are the sovereigns. It is they who apportion powers between themselves, their state governments, and the federal government. In doing so they are not impairing their sovereignty in any way. To the contrary, they are exercising it. – Tom Woods, Tenth Amendment Center

Rosanne Lindsay is a board certified Naturopathic doctor, Tribal healer under the Turtle Island Provider Network, Mother, Daughter, Earth Keeper, liberty-lover, writer, and author of the book The Nature of Healing, Heal the Body, Heal the Planet. Find her on Facebook at Natureofhealing and consult with her (long-distance consults available) at natureofhealing.org.

CONTINUE READING…

Cannabis convict Eddy Lepp free from prison


Lepp, age 64, hailed as a “marijuana martyr” by supporters

 

By Lisa M. Krieger | lkrieger@bayareanewsgroup.com

PUBLISHED: December 7, 2016 at 9:59 am | UPDATED: December 8, 2016 at 9:16 am

 

Image result for eddy lepp

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Free after eight years of federal imprisonment, one of the nation’s most celebrated cannabis convicts came home to California on Wednesday, walking off a United Airlines flight into the warm embrace of supporters — and a profoundly changed world.

Charles “Eddy” Lepp, a defiant 64-year-old Vietnam vet and ordained Rastafarian minister, was convicted on federal felony charges in 2007 for doing something that California now considers legal because of last month’s passage of Proposition 64: growing marijuana.

 

“I’m very honored. I’m very humbled. Thank you so much for caring,” Lepp told friends and family at San Francisco International Airport, tears streaming down his creased cheeks.

Then he vowed to fight for national legalization of cannabis and presidential pardons for first-time nonviolent drug offenders.

“Just because I went to federal prison doesn’t mean I got off the horse,” said Lepp, who will be on drug-monitored probation for five years. “It is still a long, long ride — and I’ll be there when it’s done.”


Read the full story and find more California cannabis news at TheCannifornian.com.

SOURCE LINK

Robert Dupont claims PHPs result in a “lifetime of well-being” LMAO


The Medscape article  Physician Health Programs- More Harm Than Good? by Pauline Anderson shed some light on coercive, controlling  secretive lair of Physician Health Programs.    Coercive v. supportive is the question Alissa Katz presents in todays Emergency Medicine News.  Supporting coercion, John Knight and J. Wesley Boyd claim that any doctor caught in the maw of their state PHP must abide by whatever the PHP requests in order to continue practicing medicine. Susan Haney concurs who notes the unwary self-referrer who unwarily steps into the lions den.

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 11.34.00 PM

Former White House Drug Czar (1973-1977) Robert Dupont, M.D. disagrees claiming the programs are worth the price of a “lifetime of well-being.”

You don’t say?     Robert Dupont’s ties to the Drug and Alcohol Testing Association (DATIA) are thick  and the designs of the former National Institute on Drug Abuse Director are spelled out in the ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing as well as his keynote speech before DATIA proposing expansion of this paradigm to other populations including workplace, healthcare, and schools.  He profits from both drug tests and employee assistance program management.  The “PHP-blueprint” is simply Straight, inc. for doctors and the same propaganda, fabricated studies, 12-step indoctrination, coercion, control and abuse remain unfettered and just as vile.

Dupont wants to swindle the PHP system into other EAPs such as as DOT proclaiming the “need to reach more of the 1.5 million Americans who annually enter substance abuse treatment, which now is all too often a revolving door.”1 They conclude:

This model of care management for substance use disorders has been pioneered by a small and innovative group of the nation’s physicians in their determination to help other physicians save their careers and families while also protecting their patients from the harmful consequences of continued substance abuse. In fulfilling the professional admonition “physician: first heal thyself,” these physicians have created a model with wide applicability and great promise.1

“Based on abundant evidence, a “new paradigm” for substance abuse treatment has evolved that is the exact opposite of harm reduction. This paradigm enforces a standard of zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use that is enforced by monitoring with frequent random drug and alcohol tests. Detection of any drug or alcohol use is met with swift, certain, but not draconian, consequences.”

CONTINUE READING AT “DISRUPTED PHYSICIAN”!

Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use…


Interview: Why the US Should Decriminalize Drug Use

 

Summary

 

Neal Scott may die in prison. A 49-year-old Black man from New Orleans, Neal had cycled in and out of prison for drug possession over a number of years. He said he was never offered treatment for his drug dependence; instead, the criminal justice system gave him time behind bars and felony convictions—most recently, five years for possessing a small amount of cocaine and a crack pipe. When Neal was arrested in May 2015, he was homeless and could not walk without pain, struggling with a rare autoimmune disease that required routine hospitalizations. Because he could not afford his $7,500 bond, Neal remained in jail for months, where he did not receive proper medication and his health declined drastically—one day he even passed out in the courtroom. Neal eventually pled guilty because he would face a minimum of 20 years in prison if he took his drug possession case to trial and lost. He told us that he cried the day he pled, because he knew he might not survive his sentence.[1]

***

Just short of her 30th birthday, Nicole Bishop spent three months in jail in Houston for heroin residue in an empty baggie and cocaine residue inside a plastic straw. Although the prosecutor could have charged misdemeanor paraphernalia, he sought felony drug possession charges instead. They would be her first felonies.

Nicole was separated from her three young children, including her breastfeeding newborn. When the baby visited Nicole in jail, she could not hear her mother’s voice or feel her touch because there was thick glass between them. Nicole finally accepted a deal from the prosecutor: she would do seven months in prison in exchange for a guilty plea for the 0.01 grams of heroin found in the baggie, and he would dismiss the straw charge. She would return to her children later that year, but as a “felon” and “drug offender.” As a result, Nicole said she would lose her student financial aid and have to give up pursuit of a degree in business administration. She would have trouble finding a job and would not be able to have her name on the lease for the home she shared with her husband. She would no longer qualify for the food stamps she had relied on to help feed her children. As she told us, she would end up punished for the rest of her life.

***

Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use, just as Neal and Nicole were. Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime. More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year. And despite officials’ claims that drug laws are meant to curb drug sales, four times as many people are arrested for possessing drugs as are arrested for selling them.

As a result of these arrests, on any given day at least 137,000 men and women are behind bars in the United States for drug possession, some 48,000 of them in state prisons and 89,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention. Each day, tens of thousands more are convicted, cycle through jails and prisons, and spend extended periods on probation and parole, often burdened with crippling debt from court-imposed fines and fees. Their criminal records lock them out of jobs, housing, education, welfare assistance, voting, and much more, and subject them to discrimination and stigma. The cost to them and to their families and communities, as well as to the taxpayer, is devastating. Those impacted are disproportionately communities of color and the poor.

This report lays bare the human costs of criminalizing personal drug use and possession in the US, focusing on four states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and New York. Drawing from over 365 interviews with people arrested and prosecuted for their drug use, attorneys, officials, activists, and family members, and extensive new analysis of national and state data, the report shows how criminalizing drug possession has caused dramatic and unnecessary harms in these states and around the country, both for individuals and for communities that are subject to discriminatory enforcement.

There are injustices and corresponding harms at every stage of the criminal process, harms that are all the more apparent when, as often happens, police, prosecutors, or judges respond to drug use as aggressively as the law allows. This report covers each stage of that process, beginning with searches, seizures, and the ways that drug possession arrests shape interactions with and perceptions of the police—including for the family members and friends of individuals who are arrested. We examine the aggressive tactics of many prosecutors, including charging people with felonies for tiny, sometimes even “trace” amounts of drugs, and detail how pretrial detention and long sentences combine to coerce the overwhelming majority of drug possession defendants to plead guilty, including, in some cases, individuals who later prove to be innocent.

The report also shows how probation and criminal justice debt often hang over people’s heads long after their conviction, sometimes making it impossible for them to move on or make ends meet. Finally, through many stories, we recount how harmful the long-term consequences of incarceration and a criminal record that follow a conviction for drug possession can be—separating parents from young children and excluding individuals and sometimes families from welfare assistance, public housing, voting, employment opportunities, and much more.

Families, friends, and neighbors understandably want government to take actions to prevent the potential harms of drug use and drug dependence. Yet the current model of criminalization does little to help people whose drug use has become problematic. Treatment for those who need and want it is often unavailable, and criminalization tends to drive people who use drugs underground, making it less likely that they will access care and more likely that they will engage in unsafe practices that make them vulnerable to disease and overdose.

While governments have a legitimate interest in preventing problematic drug use, the criminal law is not the solution. Criminalizing drug use simply has not worked as a matter of practice. Rates of drug use fluctuate, but they have not declined significantly since the “war on drugs” was declared more than four decades ago. The criminalization of drug use and possession is also inherently problematic because it represents a restriction on individual rights that is neither necessary nor proportionate to the goals it seeks to accomplish. It punishes an activity that does not directly harm others.

Instead, governments should expand public education programs that accurately describe the risks and potential harms of drug use, including the potential to cause drug dependence, and should increase access to voluntary, affordable, and evidence-based treatment for drug dependence and other medical and social services outside the court and prison system.

After decades of “tough on crime” policies, there is growing recognition in the US that governments need to undertake meaningful criminal justice reform and that the “war on drugs” has failed. This report shows that although taking on parts of the problem—such as police abuse, long sentences, and marijuana reclassification—is critical, it is not enough: Criminalization is simply the wrong response to drug use and needs to be rethought altogether.

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on all states and the federal government to decriminalize the use and possession for personal use of all drugs and to focus instead on prevention and harm reduction. Until decriminalization has been achieved, we urge officials to take strong measures to minimize and mitigate the harmful consequences of existing laws and policies. The costs of the status quo, as this report shows, are too great to bear.

 

CONTINUE READING

 

LINK TO PDF VERSION OF REPORT (205 PAGES)

MotherJones.Com "My four months as a private prison guard", by Shane Bauer


Have you ever had a riot?” I ask a recruiter from a prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
“The last riot we had was two years ago,” he says over the phone.
“Yeah, but that was with the Puerto Ricans!” says a woman’s voice, cutting in. “We got rid of them.”
“When can you start?” the man asks.
I tell him I need to think it over.

I take a breath. Am I really going to become a prison guard? Now that it might actually happen, it feels scary and a bit extreme.

Read Why Our Reporter Worked at a Prison

From the editor: Why we sent a reporter to work as a private prison guard

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison?

 

CONTINUE READING….

From Organizing America to Operation Chronic Problem, How Cannabis Prohibition Ruins Lives


 

 

My Bust

 

Katree Darriel Saunders is a 30 year old mother, cannabis activist, and an active member of her community. Katree was living in Las Vegas, NV when she was arrested during a DEA sting called Operation Chronic Problem on the charges of: Conspiracy to distribute marijuana and hashish. For 10 grams of hashish and 3.5 grams of marijuana Katree has had her life as she knew it ended. This dedicated mother lost her family and job for trying to help. Trying to help what turned out to be a lying, conniving, scheming, weasel of a DEA Agent posing as a medical cannabis patient desperate for relief. This is Katree Darriel Saunders story. Her loss, her pain, and what many consider a major injustice as well as a violation of her constitutional rights.

Katree has been addicted off and on to prescription pain pills since the age of 15. In 2007, seeking pain relief from multiple car accidents, Katree Saunders became a medical cannabis patient. Knowing the harmful side effects of pharmaceuticals, plus their lack of effectiveness, Saunders chose medical cannabis. Not only did cannabis end Saunders pain, she was able to stop using prescription drugs all together. As a hardworking mother, Saunders put herself through college and became a positive and active member of her community.

Nevada’s laws prohibited the sale of cannabis in 2007, which forced Saunders to seek it through the black market, known for unsavory individuals who traffic anything from people to weapons to stolen merchandise. Once when Saunders sought cannabis from the black market she was sexually assaulted. This devastating incident convinced Saunders she had to do something. There had to be a way for her to legally and safely obtain her medication.

She contacted the state of Nevada and spoke with Jennifer Barlett, who referred her to Michael McAuliffe of Nevada’s Compassionate Care (NCC). It was there Saunders found her place. She began working with NCC and was helping others away from the black market.

Things were going well for Saunders in February of 2010. She volunteered for a political event called Organizing America where President Barack Obama spoke about healthcare reform. Saunders was chosen to be on stage. She sat in the front row behind the president as he gave his speech. Upon the close, Katree was able to shake hands with the President. While doing so, Saunders said ‘We needed to talk about medical patient’s rights.’ Then, according to Saunders, Obama looked at her and said ‘I’m not prosecuting.’

image (4)

 

Feeling confident and empowered after this Saunders then became active in helping patients obtain their medical cannabis cards from the Nevada state program. Unfortunately, while Saunders was working for NCC, she was set up by undercover DEA agents. They were conducting what was known as Operation Chronic Problem. A federal DEA agent posed as a sick patient asking for help obtaining medical cannabis.

Saunders, being a compassionate person, facilitated this lying individual’s request. Later she was indicted on distribution of a controlled substance. Saunders served four months in prison as well as a lengthy probation since she did not offer up the names of her medical patients.

While on pretrial Saunders was in another motor vehicle accident. This accident totaled her husband’s vehicle and left Saunders with a fractured foot as well as a back injury. She was placed on morphine, Xanax, and MARINOL®. The morphine began to make her heart hurt, so she opted to stop taking it in exchange for MARINOL®. MARINOL® is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring compound known as delta-9-THC. However, since Saunders was on probation, the state of Nevada told her that she could not take MARINOL® since they would not be able to determine if she was consuming cannabis or simply taking the medication.

The State of Nevada Probation Department obtained a court order preventing Saunder’s doctor from prescribing MARINOL® to her. Now, not only was Saunders in trouble for selling 3.5 grams of cannabis and 10 grams of hash, she also lost her job, family and right to medicate.

During her incarceration, her husband divorced her, took the kids and moved away. While in custody at the prison, Saunders says she was ‘sexually assaulted and harassed by US Marshals’.

During Saunders’ trial, her attorneys advised her not to mention anything about her encounter with President Obama. For the 4 months Katree Saunders was incarcerated, the state split her time between a private prison corporation (Corrections Corporation of America – CCA) and a state prison, and earned a minimum of $5,000 for hosting her. The state of Nevada spent an estimated $20,656 per inmate in 2012, and reported 267.9 million in costs. They also claimed to have 15 million dollars in prison related costs outside of the state budget. This is where states and private prison corporations make big dollars housing criminals. In the case of cannabis consumers, these corporations make out like bandits.

 

Imagine charging $21,000 a year to house someone who was busted selling or possessing cannabis. In Saunders case, that 13.5 grams of cannabis, with a street value of $150, cost taxpayers over $20,000 to put her through the system. That doesn’t include the cost of the actual arrest, which stands at $1,500 to $3,500 with booking, paperwork, police officers fees, donuts, etc.

Saunders fought hard to break away from prescription drugs, but in the end they were her only option. Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, has been making billions off victims. Purdue Pharma is involved in countless lawsuits and their officials have admitted to deceitful and immoral medical practices, yet they are still making money. These are the ones that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks out about when he refers to the top one-tenth of 1%.

In 1993 the DEA allowed pharmaceutical companies to produce 3520 kilos of a drug known as oxycodone. Twenty-two years later they are manufacturing 137.5 thousand kilos of the same drug. That is an increase of 39 times in the manufacturing of this controlled substance. Since President Nixon founded the DEA in 1973, they have done nothing but prosecute those who attempt to possess, grow, or in any way affiliate themselves with cannabis.

Medical cannabis helps millions of people across the United States and world to find relief from pain and suffering. Cannabis helped Saunders break her addiction and take back control of her life. Cannabis is a safe treatment alternative for many illnesses, as well as the management of symptoms associated with a broad array of medical complications. Prescription drug addiction, of course, is a problem that is not only plaguing the United States, but the whole world.

Saunders’ battle with a prescription drug addiction from a young age illustrates the carelessness of the medical industry in allowing doctors to over-prescribe dangerous medications. It has also enabled them to receive substantial kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies in the process.

According to ABC News, America consumes over 90% of the world’s hydrocodone and 80 percent of the planet’s opioids. The United States of America makes up only 4.6 percent of the planet’s population. This opioid problem has destroyed mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Children and soldiers suffer horrendously because of our country’s support for the pharmaceutical industry. Children suffer by being denied medication that could in fact actually help them, and at times even cure them. Children also suffer by losing parents who are consumed by prescription drug addiction. Soldiers who protect our freedom, often with their own lives, suffer from illnesses such as PTSD. They are sometimes denied a natural treatment, such as cannabis, to help with their symptoms.

The Doctors Enforcement Agency

The DEA licenses more than 600,000 surgeons, doctors, and podiatrists to administer prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers. According to NORML (National Reform of Marijuana Laws), in 2011 there were an estimated 1.5 million registered medical cannabis patients living in the United States of America. The sad side of this is that the laws pertaining to medical cannabis forced so many to seek their medication on the black market.

The public seems to believe that we think cannabis is the new cure-all, and other medications should be eliminated. This is not true. Common sense will tell you that there are many medical advancements today which have led us to the most sophisticated and advanced techniques and cures. During this evolution we have managed to de-evolve at the same time, through the abuse of prescription drugs, as much the fault of patients as it is the doctors doing the prescribing. Some individuals get prescription pain pills in large quantities because the doctors will prescribe them. Some individuals do not even take their medication. Instead they sell them on the street. When doctors prescribe as much as 100 to 300 pills at a time, with an average price of $10 a pill, some people can make an extra $3,000 a month.

Prohibition Has Failed and it’s Hurting America

The prohibition of cannabis that began in the late 1930s has devastated countless numbers of American lives and destroyed families across the country. The FDA will approve OxyContin for 6-year-olds but will not support cannabis oil. This is an absurd violation of human rights. The United States of America has held the patent for medical cannabis since 2003. This means that they knowingly have information that solidifies and validates medical cannabis as an effective treatment. This also means that the DEA and FDA know, and have evidence, that cannabis is medicine.

For the past 12 years the DEA has left cannabis as a schedule 1 narcotic. This puts it in the same class as heroin and cocaine, that it has no medicinal value. They have lied to the American people kept the public sick, and now some laugh at us while the cannabis community is trying to change laws to better the world around us.

The Dogs of the Feds

The DEA regularly raids medicinal cannabis facilities and Indian tribal lands. They arrest, abuse, neglect and destroy the lives of countless cannabis consumers. Medical patients and recreational consumers alike suffer the wrath of the DEA everyday. There are no public benefits from cannabis prohibition! The medicinal aspects combined with potential taxes are unquestionably positive. The simple implementation of taxation on cannabis will help to eliminate the black market. This puts a lot of politicians, local sheriffs, and other individuals out of extra income they have enjoyed for years.

Katree Saunders felt the wrath of the DEA during Operation Chronic Pain and now you know her story. From being hooked on prescription drugs at 15, to meeting the President of the United States, to prison, to an avid cannabis activist, Saunders’ struggle is all too familiar to many Americans, except for meeting Mr. Barack Obama.

Help support America by being a seed. One seed can tip the scales of injustice. Are you that seed?

Employers tightening drug policies since marijuana legalization


"There is what I consider to be a significant number of employers that are saying they wouldn’t hire an employee that uses marijuana," said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of survey programs.

 

Published: Dec 15, 2015, 11:37 am

By Bloomberg News

With marijuana legalization spreading state-by-state and the U.S. government backing away from aggressive enforcement of federal laws, employers have begun to reconsider their substance abuse policies. They’re making them tougher.

In a first-of-its-kind survey, the Society of Human Resource Management asked 623 HR managers in states where marijuana is legal about their drug policies.

Unsurprisingly, getting stoned at work is largely frowned upon, SHRM found, regardless of legality. It turns out a large chunk of workplaces also won’t hire employees who smoke on their own time.

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in the nation’s capital and four states, including Colorado. In almost 20 others, it’s allowed for medicinal purposes.

More than half of the HR managers surveyed said they have policies, or plan to implement them, restricting the employment of marijuana users. About 38 percent said they will flat-out reject users even if they claim medical reasons. Six percent said their policy will exclude only those who partake for fun.

“There is what I consider to be a significant number of employers that are saying they wouldn’t hire an employee that uses marijuana,” said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of survey programs.

Companies can maintain stricter policies in states where pot is legal because federal law, which governs most workplace rules, still considers marijuana to be a controlled substance.

Over the summer, the Colorado Supreme Court said it was legal to fire an employee for legally smoking medicinal marijuana while not at work.

That said, what HR managers proclaim and what they do don’t always match up. Fewer employers are drug testing now than five years ago, SHRM numbers show. A 2011 survey of 632 HR professionals found that 55 percent were testing all potential employees.

A little less than half of those surveyed in the new study said their organization does pre-employment drug testing for all candidates, which just about matches testing practices nationwide.

Denver-based Mountain States Employers Council reported that only one in five companies in Colorado planned to make drug-testing more stringent after marijuana legalization last year.

Employers are most likely to test current employees if there’s an accident or a reason to think they’re coming to work high, the survey found.

“Some companies have stated more clearly that they reserve the right to test, letting employees know that it’s not OK to come to work under the influence,” said Lara J. Makinen, an HR coordinator at the Denver-based Atkins, a design and engineering consulting firm.

In states where weed is legal for recreational use, 39 percent of those surveyed have policies that single out marijuana use.

Employers might make more drastic changes if pot use were to start interfering with work life.

So far, apart from one local news story, there haven’t been reports of hordes coming to work stoned. That jibes with SHRM’s findings. Only 21 percent of employers reported more than three incidents of employees violating policy regarding marijuana use over the last year.

“It doesn’t appear to be a really major problem,” Esen said. “It doesn’t seem like employees are going out there and rampantly using marijuana in greater numbers than before.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com

Topics: drug testing, employers, employers drug testing policies, workplace, zero tolerance

CONTINUE READING…