Hit ’em where it hurts

One of the side-effects of the drug war is that it has given wide ranges of government employees the notion that when it comes to drugs, citizens don’t have rights. It’s an ugly and pernicious effect.

It even goes so far as to include snatching children from their parents.

In 2010, Lawrence Country Children and Youth Services seized 3-day-old Isabella and took her from her mother Elizabeth Mort. All based on a hospital drug test that registered the poppy seed bagel she had eaten before going in to the hospital. She wasn’t even informed she had failed the test and no verification was done before taking her child.

Mother wins lawsuit over poppy seed bagel

A child welfare agency and hospital in Pennsylvania have paid Elizabeth Mort $143,500 for the mistake.


Too bad the individuals involved didn’t have to pay out of their own pockets.

However, the fact that the hospital and the agency had to pay will make an impact. Budgets are a serious thing to these agencies, and you can bet that a number of agencies around the country are discussing this case. Maybe that will save another mother from being separated from her child.

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10 Responses to Hit ’em where it hurts

  1. claygooding says:

    It is also the perception that any person on drugs is not a fit parent,that they must be endangering their children by even using it when the children are not present.
    We have so many years of perception and the lies from the government that even if they dropped marijuana from the CSA tomorrow it will take decades to remove damage.

    PS: people in WA and CO should start posting daily on their social site of choice,,,I looked outside this morning and the sky has not fallen!

    • War Vet says:

      I’m always the big fan of playing the Devil’s advocate: Any parent who is obese is unfit . . . any parent with obese children are unfit . . . any parent who places their child in a car though ends up going over the speed limit or gets in a car wreck is unfit.

      But this story is a good one when it comes to getting justice for this mother. Reading the good news makes my 4th of July a bit more happier and bit more patriotic . . . I didn’t go to Iraq so this woman can lose her baby . . . only if one’s drug use (or bagel use) puts the child in danger is it permissible to take the children away. Of course without full blown drug legalization, we’ll never have enough proper studies to determine problematic use vs. non-problematic or responsible use. Through legalization and education we can then demand that all parents decide to not use drugs, reduce their drug use or only pick safer drugs like THC filled goodies. Associating the problem as a problem and not as a legal problem will enable people to see and analyze their own behavior better . . . giving people the tools to police themselves instead of wasting billions giving Law Enforcement tools to police the nation up if far better for this nation.

      Yeah, WA and CO . . . send us some of your ‘non-falling’ sky this way . . . ours have been falling since we enacted the illegal CSA laws and even more so since any ammount of THC is a DUI.

      • War Vet says:

        I guess the prohibs long life of drinking alcohol and inhaling the flames of our burnt flag and Constitution have addled two brains doing a thumbs down. Not knowing what ‘Devil’s Advocate’ means is a symptom of the disease commonly called ‘Not Questioning Authority’. Sorry sweetheart, but I’ve seen meth destroy parents and don’t want kids being raised by skinny tweekers who keep needles and cockroaches and cat droppings everywhere . . . just because I hate meth, doesn’t me I want it kept illegal. Even as the wise Clay said many posts back that prohibiting meth made it more dangerous –like a calling cast for zombie flicks, it’s still dangerous when abused like booze and crack and smack is . . . soda is bad when abused too. But we should still legalize all those very possibly dangerous drugs as a method of making sure users get cleaner drugs and rely upon the education rout. If your drug addiction causes you to neglect your child that is a problem. But those two ‘down’ thumbs seem to think keeping drugs on the underground will somehow magically help children in real dire need . . . I think taking the children away from good parents whom just so happen to use drugs, smoke herb or even have a manageable addiction is as bad. I wouldn’t want my wife to use heroin while pregnant or while raising my kid doesn’t mean I think keeping drugs illegal and taking the child away from the parent is a good thing. But sometimes taking the child away is necessary if there is real neglect coming from drug use. Part of this movement is about us ‘Policing’ ourselves and not letting ‘Big Brother’ dictate how I or others shall live on Earth.

  2. Francis says:

    I’m reminded of a comment I wrote a while back in the context of a “wrong door” raid:

    Obviously, the fact that the feds got the “wrong door” is what makes this story (and others like it) newsworthy, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the only thing that makes these stories outrageous. There was no “right door” here. The guy they were after was “suspected of dealing drugs,” i.e. engaging in consensual exchanges for the sale of certain politically-disfavored consciousness-altering substances. But even if the suspect (and yes, note the emphasis) had been suspected of an actual crime, that alone wouldn’t justify the kind of no-knock violent, forced entry into a person’s home that was used here. Such tactics could only be justified–if ever–in the most extreme circumstances. The fact that they’ve become routine is an abomination.

    Similarly, this story is not outrageous merely because the woman turned out to be “innocent” or because her child was taken from her on the basis of such flimsy and privacy-violating evidence, and without affording her any kind of due process. Even if she had taken non-prescribed opiates (of course, if she’d had a magical Dr.-provided “permission slip” there would have been no problem), that certainly wouldn’t demonstrate parental abuse or neglect. It sure as hell wouldn’t be sufficient evidence to justify the extraordinary act of taking away her child. In terms of depriving of a person of their liberty, that’s about as serious as it gets.

    There are a lot of things about the drug war that infuriate me, but there are two kinds of stories that really piss me off: “puppycide” and stories where children are the victims of the drug war’s insanity — probably because I’m a parent and someone who owns and loves dogs. The citizens of this country (and the world) can’t wake up soon enough.

  3. Servetus says:

    The case law on poppy seed false-positives is long. The mistakes are inexcusable, but they happen anyway because it’s prohibition. A correct way to test for heroin and morphine use exists, but the odds that some amateur in Armpit, PA, will react to the demon and not the science is an ongoing problem. The following precautions were established more than 15 years ago:

    “The initial opiate test concentrations or cutoff levels that were also used by the Department of Defense and uniformed service members were designed to determine or identify heroin usage. However, at the 300ng/ml cutoff many who had not used heroin, but instead had ingested prescription drugs or ingested poppy seeds that interfered with an accurate finding in drug usage. It was determined that by raising the cutoff level to 2000ng/ml, Medical Review Officers would be able to determine usage by adding the detection result of 6-AM and therefore be able to more accurately determine drug usage that should not be confused with prescription drugs or the consumption of poppy seeds.”

    The Pennsylvania case award of $143,500 is a wakeup call signaling an increasing intolerance to the drug war. Lawyers need to demand large monetary awards in all such cases, as angry jurors are likely to act out their negative feelings about prohibition by making larger damage awards to prohibition victims. It can only get more expensive as the idiocy drags on.

  4. kaptinemo says:

    The plaintiff didn’t receive enough. Not nearly enough.

    To make the kind of impression necessary, the issue should have gone to trial. That would have led to the necessary kind of impact on the public’s consciousness, about the hospital itself and the entire practice of drug-testing women during delivery, courtesy of a multimillion dollar award. And that would then lead to questions regarding the DrugWar itself, questions the prohibs are pee-their-pants scared of the public ever entertaining.

    Shorn of all the prohib rhetoric, it’s always been about money and the poliitcal power that money provides. Since you can’t make the prohibs bleed red for their effrontery (a pity duelling is illegal) then make them bleed green…buckets of green.

  5. MarkEntry says:

    Everyone is so p.o.’d about every level of govt intruding into every part of our lives that the war on cannabis users has fallen into the same ill repute. American voters have finally woken up to the fact that prohibition is just one more invasion of our privacy, & infringement of our right to be left alone. The US Govt is guilty of pushing everything they do way too far. The reaction I’m seeing is the American public in general are ready to throw out everything, & everyone, they see as unconstitutional. If it’s a law that oppresses our rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness it, & they, have to go.

  6. mr Ikasheeni says:

    If the Hon. Bloomberg believes what he says, why can’t they simply ditch stop frisk? http://gothamist.com/2013/07/04/white_woman_sues_nypd_over_invasive.php

  7. Duncan20903 says:


    I think we are setting ourselves up by trying to make it about cannabis. IMO the cops aren’t targeting people of color over cannabis, that’s the result. It’s the result because it’s the law broken most often with #2 not even in sight. So of course arrests for pot are the most commonplace charges laid as a result of targeting people of color. But I believe that the cops really don’t give a frack which charges are made at the end of the day. Their targets are targeted for arrest, not for arrest for possession of cannabis.

  8. ageduncle g says:

    To say the voters have “finally woken up” is one thing, but the incumbent politicians will still invariably be re-elected thus slowing the process of wanted/needed change to a snails’ pace. Money talks and the incumbents have greater access to the cash necessary to re-purchase their seats at the table.

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