Parental use of marijuana still can affect custody cases

With the legalization of recreational marijuana use here in California, questions still surround certain aspects of the substance and its usage. One particular gray area is how the state's family courts will rule regarding custody when one or both of a child's parents use cannabis.

One California father is still fighting for custody of his son — now a ward of the state living with nonrelative foster parents — after admitting to using medical marijuana prescribed to treat lingering pain from an auto accident.

It should be noted that the cannabis he had been using was very high in cannabidiol (CBD), a compound with the greatest medical benefits. It contained practically no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what gives users the feeling of being "stoned."

The man had only casually dated his baby's mother and only learned he was a father when she called him from the hospital after the baby was born. She was unable to keep the infant herself, so the shocked but responsible young father stepped up to the plate.

Yet, because of his admitted use of medical marijuana — even after a urine test submitted on demand was returned as inconclusive for pot — he was denied the right to parent his son. More than a year later, he was still fighting the battle for custody of his son.

Moreover, despite Proposition 64 containing language intending that family courts be unable to restrict or terminate parents' custodial rights simply because they were prescribed medical marijuana, the man's case is far from unique.

Courts and the social workers with the state's Child Protective Services (CPS) offices have great latitude when it comes to removing children from parental custody. If a judge is enlightened about the benefits of medical marijuana, parents may face no problems.

But there are judges and CPS workers who still view parental pot usage to be as much of a hazard to children as moms and dads who shoot heroin. They can remove children from the home or award custody to the parent who isn't prescribed pot.

Considering that this is due to medical marijuana use and not recreational usage, parents facing a custody battle for their kids may want to forego the use of any type of cannabis.

Source: The Cannafornian, "Even in legal weed states, parents who consume pot can still lose custody of their kids," Brooke Edwards Staggs, accessed Dec. 14, 2017

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