By សតិវ អតុ
We live in the freest country in the world (
our leaders, media pundits and school teachers constantly tell us.
"We live in a country where we are protected from tyranny and oppression, at home and abroad," they keep telling us.
And yet people lose custody of their children because they don’t pass a drug test.
So in My Twin Tiers.com we read a story of a women, Jamie Silakowski, of
who almost lost her child because of a messed up drug test result. According to
My Twin Tiers.com: Rochester, NY
“A doctor came into my room, that was the first time a doctor had come to my room and said, 'Just so you know, you failed your drug test, is there anything you took?'” Silakowski recounted.
That's when Silakowski, of
driving through Tim Horton's before going to Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.
That's when Silakowski, of
“(I told the doctor) I did have a lemon poppy seed bread, just throwing that out there. And he laughed and said, 'That's from Seinfeld, that can't be,' and I said, 'That's where I heard it, that's why I'm just bringing it up,'” Silakowski said.
What happened next had no one laughing.
“I didn't know what to do, I had nowhere to turn, I didn't know what questions to ask,” Silakowski said. “I offered to retake the drug test, I asked if I could do another urine sample, a blood test, a hair sample and they said no.”
The fact is that a person can get a bad drug test from eating poppy seeds. She said she would never eat poppy seeds again:
“Silakowski doesn't know where she'll go from here with all this, but she is certain of one thing, she'll never eat a poppy seed again.”
So what kind of society do we live in where a person can’t eat poppy seeds because a bad drug test can cost her (or maybe a guy) her child?
After all the abuses of police power under the so called “war on drugs” we still live in a society where the choice to use chemicals for any reason can lead to loss of a job and a loss of a child. From Legalzoom:
“When a parent struggles with drug addiction, his parental rights may be affected. In some cases, child protection agencies may remove a child from a parent’s care if that parent abuses drugs. Likewise, during a divorce, a court may deny a parent custody if he has untreated drug abuse or addiction issues or terminate his parental rights entirely if he does not address his drug abuse problems. Therefore, treating the underlying illness is often key to protecting custody and parental rights.”
We are living in a time when people are seriously questioning the last 30 years of a drug war that has put more than one and a half million people in jail as well as costing people their jobs and custody of their children. According to The Atlantic:
is a world leader in
incarceration. The America U.S. locks up more people than any other country,
the ’s Institute for
Criminal Policy Research reports. An estimated 1.6
million individuals were held in state and federal prisons at
the end of 2014, while roughly 1 out of every 36 adults fell under correctional
supervision, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics." University of
So people are waking up and beginning to see how ridiculously it is to lock people up just for possessing chemicals they want to use, for either their own entertainment or for self medication. Both conservatives and liberals within this government system realize there is something wrong with these statistics.
No matter what the reasoning is behind punishing people for taking drugs, the results has led to a country that is very far from being "the freest country in the world." It just doesn't add up.
When looking at all these statistics there is often something lost in the various arguments for drug laws. Most of us agree that drug use and abuse is unhealthy and medically dangerous. Narcotics, such as heroin are potentially addictive. Some people really do overdose and die from using these drugs. And yet people who are often aware of these dangers use these drugs anyway.
Most of us note a difference between those who sell drugs and try to profit off of a person's personal flaws and those who simply use them. While a user may have a "drug problem," dealers may not have any personal problems with drugs at all. They are simply supplying users with the drugs they need or desire. There are small time dealers who sell just enough drugs to supply their own personal habits and there are those who make anywhere from about $100 a week, up to a $million or more a week.
Few of us sympathize with those who make a plush life for themselves by selling drugs. Many such people belong in jail. But for many of us, there is no reason to put a small time user in prison.
There are those who have favored putting users in jail for religious reasons. Others are concerned about the health of people in our society. Many people have feared that their own children may get caught up in drug addiction.
There are many of us who believe that people in this society deserve to have the right to choose how they want to live their lives. We don't jail people for smoking cigarettes, or for drinking alcohol. Both of those choices are destructive and both can cause addiction and death.
All across the country states are legalizing marijuana. For years, politicians, religious ministers, media pundits and others have all tried their best to keep marijuana illegal. The efforts of those who want that plant legal are just now starting to win.
According to Citizens Count:
Hampshire is surrounded by states that have legalized possession
of marijuana: Massachusetts, Maine,
and . Vermont
Adults over age twenty-one can legally grow a small amount of marijuana at home in those states.
also allow commercial sales of marijuana, with a license. Massachusetts
Marijuana laws in other states
Six other states have legalized marijuana:
Oregon, and .” Washington
That is just one drug that may soon be added to tobacco and alcohol as a legal high. However, just being legal doesn’t mean that a person’s job can be protected. Some employers may not allow an employee to smoke pot just because it is legal. Drug laws cover a long list of illegal substances that people like to use and some of them are not popular with anyone who doesn’t like to use them. That would include such drugs as heroin. Add to that a growing list of herbs that are suddenly illegal as soon as legislators find out that people are getting high on them, such as
K2. While the rest of the
country is trying to wind down the war on drugs, Kansas is trying to do the opposite
by illegalizing a long list
of herbs as soon as their use is discovered.
That brings us to the issue of child custody when a parent (or both parents) has a drug problem. Generally, courts determine custody at the time of a divorce. Likewise, the court may take away a parent’s legal custody—or right to make decisions for the child—if the parent does not seek substance abuse counseling or make other efforts to achieve sobriety. If the parents have joint custody the court may modify its order and give the parent without a drug problem sole custody.
What we really need to ask is how the courts affect the parents and their rights. A parent should have the same rights as any other person when it comes to drug use, except how it affects their children. I don’t think many people disagree that an unfit parent should lose their child if there is real abuse. But such abuse needs to be verified. Silakowski should never have had her child taken on such flimsy evidence. Her doctor was arrogant and violated her privacy. As it turned out she wasn’t even using drugs. She nearly lost her child for eating a snack.
There is something seriously wrong with a system that takes people’s children from them over flimsy evidence of possible drug use. If this country were truly free, people would be able to choose how they live, without the dangers of being jailed, losing their jobs or losing their children.
This country has a long way to go before it can be called “the freest country in the world.”