Monday, April 9, 2012

Drug Addiction and Canadian Judges

It is estimated that the rate of drug and alcohol addiction among Canadian lawyers ranges 10 to 25%. (Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Lawyers, Are we willing to address the denial? Rick Allen),   As it is lawyers who become judges this is a very serious and indeed terrifying concern.  It was surely bad enough when alcohol was the sole culprit but today lawyers and judges are like the general population of Canada turning to drugs like cocaine. Marijuania is being used more for supposedly 'medical reasons' yet there is ample evidence if only from driving studies that marijuana affects decision making. I like to refer to my simple test where not a single patient smoking marijuania asked if he or she wanted their neurosurgeon to be smoking marijuana agreed that this was a good idea. I certainly wouldn't want my neurosurgeon smoking a crack pipe.
Yet consider a Canadian   judge who considers such an idea as 'recreational cocaine' isn't a cause for serious concern! To date there is no 'recreational cocaine use' in medical circles yet a judge believes that to suggest  a ' chronic cocaine abuser' has a problem isn't evident to clinicians who see countless addicts but rather believes unscientifically that 'cocaine use' is like alcohol which the courts sadly, are decades behind in addressing among their ranks.
In the US 'safety sensitive jobs' require urine testing.  I remember Reagan proudly holding up his drug free urine.  Urine testing exposes cocaine abuse.  It wouldn't necessarily pick up alcohol abuse but then alcohol is not an illegal substance. Marijunia like heroin is picked up on urine testing but there are today medical reasons for use of cannibis. To date there is no reason for 'self administration' of cocaine except addiction.  We hear people say they are 'experimenting' with criminal drugs such as 'cocaine' but we don't consider people as normal who 'experiment with theft" for instance.
Only 10 years ago the Chief Justice  of the Supreme Court justice had such a serious problem with alcoholism that he was approached by other judges.  The Chief Justice of Quebec's drinking only came to an end when she was caught drinking and driving in 2004.  That's alcohol but what judges are on cocaine?  Worse given the effects of cocaine specifically and early regarding ethical and moral behaviour, what judges would even  dare approach another judge with a cocaine problem?   Imagine the arrogance and boundary violations of a judge high on cocaine and getting away with it.  He would likely either over react to anyone who questioned cocaine abuse or himself over react to cocaine in an attempt to conceal his own complicity. What judges are smoking marijuani?
Finally given how high in the ranks this problem goes can any body in the legal system be safely entrusted with addressing judges addicted to cocaine..
Just as doctors have their own professional self help body which to date has had it's own difficulties dealing with drunkeness in senior doctors, whereas they're quite competent with dealing with drug and alcohol abuse among junior doctors, the same is likely  true for the legal profession's self help group.
Also consider the stigma of mental illness for a judge who actually views his and other's cocaine use as 'recreational'.  for
  I would think it would be as likely that Clinton as President would have voluntarily discussed his relationship with Monica with Congress.
That said, 80 to 90% of judges are not doing cocaine. The majority of judges are not smoking crack.  So hopefully they will collectively address this ethical issue very soon.  I personally don't want to hear after the fact that a supreme court judge was found with a crack pipe in his or her  mouth.  Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin is fighting against tremendous resistance in the courts for transparency.  Perhaps this could extend to urine drug testing.  We expect as much from the Canucks and are especially concerned about olympic athletes. Should we accept far lesser standards from the Gods of Olympus?
We say that an alcoholic will steal your wallet but a drug addict will steal it then help you look for it.

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