Recommendations too late for many families 'broken apart' by flawed
drug and alcohol tests
The Ontario Motherisk Commission's two-year effort to repair the
damage to families ripped apart by flawed drug and alcohol testing has
produced sweeping recommendations aimed at preventing a similar
tragedy, but in only a handful of cases has it reunited parents with
their lost children.
Alice, a Hamilton mother whose daughter was apprehended in 2011 after
hair testing from Motherisk purported to show she was a heavy drinker,
is among the lucky few.
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Karen Klassen has been emerging of late from her condo unit,
socializing with her neighbours over coffee and when they ask what's
brought her out more, she's been reluctant to answer.
For at least 25 years, Klassen has endured chronic pain and she
believes medicinal marijuana is what has been helping her.
It began with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, but Klassen later
suffered a broken back. The last diagnosis, which she says is the most
significant, is a failed back surgery, spinal stenosis and ankylosing
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Most charged in raids were 'budtenders', along with some managers and
An Ottawa judge has discharged drug-trafficking charges against a
young clerk who worked at a marijuana dispensary but said she didn't
realize the business was illegal.
The woman was only 21, had no criminal record, has accepted
responsibility and expressed remorse, and is at low risk of
reoffending, Justice Norman Boxall said in his sentencing decision.
Selena Holder-Zirbser is one of about 44 people who have been charged
in police raids on illegal shops in Ottawa. She says she took the
$12-an-hour job because she needed to pay her rent.
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A day after what would have been her son Ashley's 38th birthday, Betty
Niemi told the story of her only child's losing battle with addiction
to a rapt audience Thursday night.
Niemi, who has started a local chapter of Grief Recovery After Substance
Passing (GRASP), took to the podium at the fourth Not My Kid:
Adolescents and Addictions seminar before a crowd of about 300 at the
"Losing a child is like having an arm or leg amputated, but no one can
see it," Niemi told the crowd.
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Dajia Brown cares for Brooklyn at their Somerville home. She credits a
Boston Medical Center program for her progress.
Last June, Dajia Brown embarked on a dangerous phase of life - so
dangerous that many in her situation do not survive.
It started when she gave birth to her daughter, Brooklyn, several
months after entering treatment for addiction to fentanyl pills. The
postpartum period, a tough time for many women, can be particularly
challenging for women with opioid use disorder, putting them at high
risk of relapse and overdose.
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CHICAGO -- The Latest on lawsuit to allow 11-year-old to receive
marijuana treatment while at school.
The Illinois attorney general's office has told a federal court it
will allow a suburban Chicago school district to administer medical
marijuana to an 11-year-old leukemia patient to treat her for seizure
The commitment made to Judge John Blakey on Friday came two days after
the student's parents sued Schaumburg-based District 54 and the state
for the girl's right to take medical marijuana at school. Illinois'
medical cannabis law prohibits possessing or using marijuana on school
grounds or buses.
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Analysis of 50 cases sheds light on how people often suffering from
poverty or other disadvantages were tarred by test results indicating
that they were drinkers or drug users
In an Elliot Lake, Ont., courtroom in 2011, a woman fighting for
custody of her step-grandchild tried to convince the judge that
Motherisk's results were bogus.
The Children's Aid Society of Algoma had submitted Motherisk's tests
of the woman's hair, which were positive for cocaine and opioids, as
proof she had recently used drugs. The woman, identified by the court
as L.G., argued the lab must have miscalculated because she had been
clean for several months. The judge was not swayed.
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Lawsuit's fate rests on judge, whose verdict could set off years of
Motherisk's flawed hair-strand tests tainted thousands of child
protection cases across Canada, but was every parent who tested
positive for drugs or alcohol potentially harmed in some way? How much
is that harm is worth? And what's the best way to determine who should
These are among the complex questions that were debated in a Toronto
courtroom this week in the high-stakes battle over the fate of a
proposed national class-action seeking millions in damages for
families affected by the litany of failings uncovered at the Hospital
for Sick Children's Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory.
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Cheryl Guardiero should have spent Thursday celebrating her son's 30th
birthday. Instead, she attended an International Overdose Awareness
Day vigil in Nanaimo, her boy now among the dead for whom they grieved.
Brett Colton Mercer was born in Nanaimo on Aug. 31, 1987, to loving
parents who eventually had five children. He died Aug. 19, 2017 of an
accidental drug overdose, alone in a motel room in Hope, where he had
recently landed a job with an oil and gas firm.
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Two local mothers are bringing awareness to the rippling effect drugs
leave on families by sharing the stories of their own children
enveloped in the throes of addiction.
Opening a public discussion about drug addiction is how mothers Shawna
Taylor of Airdrie and Christina Sackett of Crossfield first connected.
"There are so many families being affected," Taylor said. "I think the
stigma is so incredible that people are embarrassed to come forward.
It took us a long time."
Taylor has been married to her husband Jeff for 23 years and said the
two raised their daughter, Kenedee, and son, Nathan, to respect
curfews and stay away from drugs.
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As debate raged around health care and Russia-gate last month,
Attorney General Jeff Sessions quietly held a "national summit" of law
enforcement representatives to discuss the future of policing.
Vice President Mike Pence predicted that the summit, which was largely
held behind closed doors, would "impact this country for years to
come." Its purpose was to influence the recommendations - due out next
week - of the Department of Justice Task Force on Crime Reduction and
Public Safety, created in response to one of President Trump's
executive orders. Drugs featured prominently on the agenda.
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Auditors uncovered what a prison spokesman called "terrible" and
"unacceptable" failures to conduct contraband searches of inmates,
cells and staff.
The Michigan Department of Corrections said Thursday it may take
disciplinary action after auditors uncovered what a prison spokesman
called "terrible" and "unacceptable" failures to conduct contraband
searches of inmates, cells and staff at a women's prison.
Auditor General Doug Ringler said during two five-day periods last
year, the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti did
not conduct or document nearly a quarter of the required cell searches
and prisoner shakedowns. Using surveillance video, auditors also found
that 58 of 170 required cell searches were not backed up by the
footage -- meaning they were potentially falsified.
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Deb Sheamer and other friends of Charmaine Bassett protest her arrest
and detention outside of the Lucas County Courthouse on June 21.
Friends of Charmaine Bassett protest her arrest and detention outside
of the Lucas County Courthouse on June 21.
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Michael Goulding on Friday found a
Toledo woman charged with selling marijuana and illegal mushrooms for
"spiritual purposes" competent to stand trial on felony drug charges.
Charmaine Rose Bassett, 56, of the 3400 block of Secor Road entered
not guilty pleas to aggravated possession of drugs, aggravated
trafficking in drugs, and trafficking in marijuana. She is the founder
and "medicine woman" at Anyana-Kai, a member of the Oklevueha Native
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There are good days for West Tarricone. Days when she can laugh and
live like any other 9-year-old. Days when she can play with her
brother, Blake, and watch "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on her iPad.
But there are also bad days. Days when her body weathers 100 seizures.
Days when it has closer to 1,000 - some lasting more than 90 minutes.
Lately, she's been having more good days thanks to Connecticut's new
experiment with medical marijuana.
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A Philadelphia city councilwoman says she will try to block a medical
marijuana dispensary from being located in her East Mount Airy district.
"This is not a debate about the merits of medical marijuana -- which
the community and I both support -- but it is solely about the
proposed use at this location," Parker said in a statement, citing
concerns about public safety and security. "I remain vehemently
opposed to this site."
State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Phila.), who lives four blocks from the
proposed dispensary, said he was happy to have one in the
neighborhood. But Rabb said he believes the two-story structure is
"specifically an awful location."
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Members of a West Toledo church that describes itself as "an
alternative medicine and naturopathic healing center" demonstrated
outside the Lucas County Courthouse today in support of the woman they
call their head medicine woman.
Charmaine Rose Bassett, 56, is held in the Lucas County jail on felony
charges of aggravated possession of drugs, aggravated trafficking in
drugs, and trafficking in marijuana.
Bassett, who founded Anyana-Kai at 3344 Secor Rd., was indicted by a
Lucas County grand jury after Toledo police raided the church and
seized marijuana and illegal mushrooms. The indictment alleges she
sold the marijuana and mushrooms to members who paid a fee to join the
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When Andrea Dobbs began experiencing perimenopausal symptoms, she had
no idea that her search for a remedy at a local dispensary would put
her on the path to opening up one of her own.
Andrea Dobbs operated the Village Dispensary for a year before she
smoked any of its cannabis. Amanda Siebert photo.
Now the co-owner of the Village in Kitsilano, Dobbs says her initial
experience at a local pot shop in the early days of Vancouver's
dispensary explosion wasn't ideal.
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Jeanine Moss never expected to get into the cannabis industry. But
that was before her hip-replacement surgery.
Ms. Moss, 62, of Marina Del Ray, Calif., had quit her job as a
marketing consultant before she had her hip done in 2014. As she left
the hospital, her doctors handed her a "shopping bag filled with
opiates," she said. The drugs made her disoriented and woozy.
So she switched to medical marijuana, which is legal in California and
was familiar to her, having grown up in the nearby Venice section of
Los Angeles. Within a week, she had tossed away her
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Marijuana use could be a predictor for relapse among women undergoing
opioid addiction treatment, a Hamilton study has found.
A research team from McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare
Hamilton recruited 777 participants from Canadian Addiction Treatment
Centre sites across the province as part of an ongoing research file
into the risk factors of addiction.
About 60 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women in methadone
treatment therapy also use cannabis, the study found. The women who
smoked pot, the study found, were 82 per cent more likely to relapse
and use opioids.
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Investigators ID 24 instances of dubious testing that led to children
being taken from families
A probe of child protection files involving flawed drug and alcohol
hair tests performed by the Hospital for Sick Children's Motherisk lab
has now identified 24 cases in which the results were a key factor in
removing children from their families.
While that represents a fraction of the more than 500 "high-priority"
child protection files the Motherisk Commission has so far examined,
the number is set to rise in the coming months as an additional 1,200
cases are targeted for review.
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