by Gretchen Burns Bergman
Executive Director, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing)
Huffington Post


Mothers from across the country are appalled at the outrageous action of the schools and police, when they seized an 11-year-old child and arrested his mother after he defended medical marijuana during a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) school drug presentation in Kansas on March 24, 2015. Is this freedom of speech? Does government encouraging children to spy and turn in their parents sound familiar?


Shona Banda – Image from Facebook

We should not tolerate traumatizing a child in order to promote ideology that is not science-based and sound. My colleague Joyce Rivera, founder of St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction in New York declared that, “This kind of police action is a betrayal by the schools of both the child and the parent.”

I am the lead organizer of the Moms United to End the War on Drugs national campaign to stop the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs. We are urgently calling for health-oriented strategies and widespread drug policy reform to end the violence, mass incarceration, and accidental overdose deaths that are a result of punitive and discriminatory drug policies. The 5th fundamental right in our Moms United Bill of Rights states: “We have the right to honest, accurate, safety first drug education in our schools rather than scare tactics.”

“Cops in the Classroom” teaching drug education can be as out of place as “Cops in the Waiting Room,” and it doesn’t respect an individual’s right to privacy. It is a form of intimidation that interferes with both education and treatment. It reinforces the notion that drug use should be an illegal and criminal justice based issue as opposed to a social and healthcare concern. This exemplifies overreaching and fear-based control over our communities, and it silences honest and truth-seeking communication.

Sadly, the mother in this case who is a motivational speaker and author may face drug and child endangerment charges. She uses medicinal marijuana to help treat her Crohn’s disease. Her son is in temporary protective custody, and the DA is considering removing him long-term from his home.

Diane Goldstein, a Retired Police Lieutenant and Board member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) as well as a steering committee member of Moms United to End the War on Drugs brought her perspective as a Mom and a Cop to our conversation. She said “We already have enough documented abuses by law enforcement and social services agencies who have taken children hostage despite the absence of evidence of neglect or abuse. We have seen significant damage done to families through “drug endangered children” laws that replace common sense and an evaluation of individual circumstances with zero-tolerance laws that foster injustice.”

I am shocked and dismayed by the continued violence of parental rights in the name of public safety and the “war on drugs,” With what we know now about the benefits of medicinal marijuana, the flawed foster care system, and the overall devastation of punitive prohibitionist policies, it is shameful that these violations of human rights and public trust continue to happen and be tolerated.”

Read the Full Article here.