Report examines the Canadian government’s campaign to legalize cannabis for recreational use

From Mike Devillaer who posted in

My report, Cannabis Law Reform: Pretense & Perils has just been released through the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research at McMaster University and St. Josephs Healthcare Hamilton.

The report examines the Canadian government’s campaign to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The government’s stated case is that the contraband trade poses a serious threat to cannabis users (including ‘kids’), and that a legal, regulated industry will provide protection. This report draws upon research on the contraband trade, our established legal drug industries (alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical), and government efforts to regulate these industries. This investigation concludes that the government’s case, on all counts, is weak. It’s depiction of the contraband cannabis trade amounts to little more than unsubstantiated, vestigial reefer madness  that was used for so long to resist reform from prohibition to decriminalization.  At the same time that hundreds of thousands of (mostly young) Canadians were receiving criminal records for minor possession-related offenses, our legal drug industries engaged in a relentless, indiscriminate, and sometimes illegal, pursuit of revenue with substantial harm to the public’s health and to the Canadian economy. Early indications warn that an ambitious cannabis industry is on a similar trajectory. These industries continue to be enabled by permissive and ineffective regulatory oversight by government.

Cannabis Law Reform in Canada: Pretense and Perils recommends immediate decriminalization of minor cannabis-related offenses. It also supports the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, but strongly asserts that the prevailing profit-driven, poorly-regulated paradigm is a dangerous one. The legalization of cannabis in Canada provides an opportunity to try a different approach – a not-for-profit cannabis authority – functioning with a genuine public health priority.

See Report here:


Indigenous Perspectives and Social Work webinar

From the Canadian Association of Social workers

CASW’s continuing education webinars in celebration of NSWM are ongoing! We are pleased to open registration for a new series focusing on Indigenous Perspectives & Social Work.

All webinars are open to CASW members and will be 1 hour in length with the opportunity for live Q & A’s.

Sign-up yourself or organize your office.

  • Indigenous Perspectives & Social Work Series – March 23rd & April 10th  – Each starting at 1:00pm EST
    Canadian social workers are highly diverse yet share the same values of social justice, respect for all and service to humanity. As a country and a profession we have the opportunity to move forward with genuine reconciliation. This two part webinar series strives to encourage ongoing discussion and continual learning. Understanding and acknowledging our shared colonial past will help us to create a more just and healthy shared future. This is a webinar series for all social workers.

Bridging housing, human rights and the law to a person’s everyday life

This video maybe made a bunch of years ago, but fantastic story of bridging human rights and engagement with the law, to a person’s everyday life.

Harvey Rosenthal of explains –

NYAPRS Note: Despite prominent news coverage, legal settlements and litigation and years of advocacy, thousands of adult home residents still await the promise of realizing their right to live in the most integrated settings in their home communities. See below for how this issue has reverberated in court rooms and in Albany over the past few weeks.
Accordingly, self and system advocates for adult home residents are coming to Albany this Wednesday to call on state officials to keep their promise to support their peers to live in the community. One has only to experience Coco’s story at to appreciate what it’s like for a resident to assume the dignity and independence of life in her own apartment in the City.

NYS Adult Home Residents with Psychiatric Disabilities Still Wait for NYS
to Keep Its Commitment to Support Them to Live in Most Integrated Community Settings
NYAPRS March 13, 2017

In 2002, the New York Times’ Cliff Levy wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative series exposing NYS policy failures regarding New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities, many of whom had been wrongly discharged from state hospitals into inappropriate if not abusive adult home institutional settings in NYC, in violation of their ADA rights to live in the most integrated community settings. See for Cliff’s first article in the series at…/for-mentally-ill-death-and-misery.…

After years of unsuccessful legal action and legislative advocacy with previous Governors, the Cuomo Administration took two very important actions:
· It stepped forward and reached a legal settlement agreement to help move about 4,500 residents to more independent and normalizing community settings and
· It promulgated a regulation that would stop referrals of people with psychiatric disabilities into adult homes with censuses of 25 or more adult home residents, in contrast to the several hundred who currently live in several of them.

Taken together, these actions essentially closed the front door of these institutions to New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities and opened the back door wide to afford them their rights to live out of institutions and into the community apartments with supports.

Despite the terms of the state’s legal settlement, NYS state agencies have helped only 475 of these residents transition to community based apartments since 2014, despite allocations of state financial and staff resources and new housing beds. That’s 475 or 10% of the now 5,000 residents who fit the terms of the settlement.

While one reason given is that residents no longer express a desire to leave, advocates believe that residents have become discouraged by years of broken promises and a lack of sufficient ‘motivational interviewing’ skills on the part of in reach teams.

And, to make matters worse, state agencies acceded a few weeks ago to a law suit put forward by the adult home operators challenging the regulatory limits of allowing no more than 25 residents per home and agreed to a temporary restraining order.

In response, the judge in the original settlement, Nicholas Garaufis, Senior United States District Judge serving on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, exploded and demanded that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman personally appear to explain why the state backed down on contesting the regulation while dragging their feet so starkly on the settlement.

In response, the Attorney General withdrew from the case on the grounds that his office was not “in a position to explain a decision that it did not make”, nor in a position to explain the state agencies’ decision to accede to the restraining order and because his office and the agencies “had a fundamental disagreement about how this matter should be handled.”

So the front door remains open and very little is happening out of the back door….and the residents continue to wait for the state to keep its commitment to them and to the court.

Look tomorrow for a news advisory for the Wednesday news conference by residents and advocates to press that thousands of residents are provided the supports that Coco received to live in the community.

Digital life and death

I stumbled on this approach/resource via a tweet from social work tech group.   Both the tech and pod cast sites seem like a lively spot to support knowledge sharing for social workers.

Death and Grief in the Digital Age: Interview with Carla Sofka, Ph.D.

[Episode 109] Today’s episode of the Social Work Podcast is about Death and Grief in the Digital Age. I spoke with Dr. Carla Sofka, professor of Social Work at Siena College. Dr. Sofka has been studying and writing about the intersection of technology and death and grief since the earliest days of the world wide web. Her edited 2012 text, Dying, Death and Grief in an Online Universe, looks at how changes in communication technology have revolutionized the field of thanatology.

In today’s episode we talk about the role of social media in how, why, where and when, who we grieve. She shares stories of people whose loved ones have died, only to find out that because of social media they are the last to know. Carla provides some digital literacy around death and grief in the digital age. She talks about social media posts as death notifications, about establishing digital advance directives and thinking about our digital dust.

She talks about STUG reactions which are Sudden Temporary Upsurges of Grief. I had never heard of a STUG reaction, but I actually had one during our conversation. You’ll hear me talk about college friend of mine who died several years ago and during the interview start to tear up as I recalled getting a Facebook notification that it was her birthday.  We then talked about internet ghosts, memorial pages, memorial trolls, how and when people should respond to death notices online and what that means for the loved ones. She suggests that just as we provide sex education to kids, we should be providing death education.  She also recommends including technology assessment in the standard biopsychosocialspiritual assessment. We ended our conversation talking about resources for mental health professionals who want to learn more.

The Social Work Podcast

Provides information on all things social work, including direct practice (both clinical and community organizing), research, policy, education… and everything in between.

Social Work Tech 

Social Work Tech

These articles are intended to help practitioners, psychotherapists, students, and visionaries in social work (and related fields) to understand technology tools and utilize them so that one can be better organized, improve delivery of intervention, and promote personal and professional development.
To empower personal and professional development of helping professionals through the use of technology.


Ombudsman in need of an Ombudsman

Reuel Amdur examines child abuse and the role of the ombudsman in seeking what is “just,” in this article from the Canadian Charger

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé issued a hard-hitting report on his organization’s investigation of short-comings of the Ministry of Community and Social Services in its handling of the situations of the mentally deficient. He found “a baffling lack of flexibility from officials at the top.” Well, the ancient Romans had a word for it. “De te fabula narrantur.” That’s your story. Let me explain.

C. was sexually abused as a child.  When asked about school, he replied that he did not do well and was always in special classes.  Recently he applied for benefits from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) for what had happened to him.  “It ruined my life,” he said.  The CICB refused to hear his case because he was himself guilty of such behavior and, as the CICB observed, not all abused persons become abusers.  The next step was to go to the Ombudsman.

The submission to the Ombudsman included references to the literature on sexual abuse by victims of abuse, especially those of low intelligence who as children had also suffered physical abuse.  (Cecil’s father, he said, used to hit him in the face and on the head.)

While the CICB is correct in saying that abuse victims do not necessarily become abusers, that is only part of the story.  When the case was outlined to Dr. Irvin Waller, a criminologist of world renown, he commented, “It’s kind of obvious.  Child abuse, physical or sexual, is well established as a risk factor for persistent offending in teenage and adult years.”

In his Smarter Crime Control (Lantham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), he says, “. . . childhood maltreatment approximately doubles the likelihood that an individual will engage in crime; the outcomes are even more exacerbated in cases of sexual abuse.”  (Emphasis in original.)

The World Health Organization’s 2014 Global Report on Violence Preventionstates as follows: “Maltreatment can cause changes in the brain that increase the risk of behavioural, physical and mental health problems in adulthood.  Being a victim of child maltreatment can increase the risk that a person will become a victim and/or perpetrator of other forms of violence in adolescence and adulthood.”

A similar finding was made by R. Karl Hanson and Andrew Harris, in their report Dynamic Predictors of Sexual Recidivism (1998) for the Department of the Solicitor General.  The factors cited in the report are childhood environments and low intelligence.

Our submission to the Ombudsman also noted the Freudian understanding of sexual interference during the latency phase of development.  It would be, from that perspective, mental illness, substance abuse, or anti-social or character disorder of one sort or another.  While, as the CICB argued, not all such childhood victims repeat the behavior, that is a matter of their innate ego strengths.

The Ombudsman’s office chose not to consider this argumentation, restricting itself to finding that the CICB acted within its jurisdiction in refusing to hear the case.  Similarly, the Ombudsman refused.

According to the Ombudsman’s Act, the Ombudsman may speak to a decision that “was unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory, or was in accordance with a rule of law or as provision of any Act or a practice that is or may be unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory.”

The Ombudsman did not even entertain the concerns presented.  It handled the matter in a dismissive and bureaucratic fashion.  Indeed, Mr. Dubé, “De te fabula narrantur.”

It appears that they had been coopted and neutered.

Joignez-vous à nous et apprenez-en plus sur les services communautaires suivants offerts dans votre région!

Francophone social and health workers -Breakfast & Learn

DÉJEUNER D’INFORMATION –pour les professionnels de la santé

 Joignez-vous à nous et apprenez-en plus sur les services communautaires suivants offerts dans votre région!

 Présentateurs invités

  • Réseau local d’intégration des services de santé (RLISS) de Champlain Centre d’accès aux soins communautaires (CASC) de Champlain
  • Maillons santé – Favoriser la collaboration entre fournisseurs pour une meilleure coordination des soins.
  • Visavie – Comment Visavie élargit sa gamme de services pour mieux répondre aux besoins de ses clients et renforcer son partenariat dans le cadre du programme de lits de crises.
  • Service d’intervention et d’aiguillage pour les aînés victimes d’abus et programme de lits de crises – Aider les aînés en situation de violence à quitter temporairement leur résidence pendant que les fournisseurs de services s’affairent à leur trouver un logement permanent et sécuritaire. Le programme est également offert aux personnes soignantes en état d’épuisement.


                             Date : lundi 20 mars 2017

                                 Heure : 7 h 30 à 9 h 30 (les présentations débutent à 8 h 15)

                                 Lieu : Résidence Cité Parkway

                                              380, avenue Leboutillier, Ottawa