Medical marijuana and child custody

In recent years, the country has grown divided about issues related to the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use. Today, according to ProCon.org, a total of 22 states have passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana. In April of this year, the state of Maryland became the 21st state to legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualifying residents. While many residents within the state vehemently opposed the legalization of medical marijuana, members of the Maryland House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed the measure by a vote of 125 to 11.

The issues surrounding the legalization of pot are complex and controversial. While numerous states have taken steps to legalize the drug for both medical and recreational use, federal laws remain firm on the topic. As a result, individuals who use marijuana in states where it is legal to do so continue to face scrutiny and other potentially negative consequences including those related to child custody.

While traditionally proof of or accusations related to a parent's drug use were major factors in child custody matters, the legalization of marijuana has blurred the lines surrounding this topic. For example, even though pot is legal for both medical and recreational use in Colorado, one man recently lost "custody of his children after getting a medical marijuana card."

Issues related to child custody are often highly emotional and can quickly grow contentious. Parents seeking to retain or win physical custody of a child may point to a spouse's marijuana use in an attempt to persuade a judge. Even in cases where a parent may have a legitimate medical condition that warrants the use of medical marijuana, a judge may be swayed by the fact that, under federal law, marijuana is still classified as a schedule I drug.

Maryland parents who have questions or concerns related to child custody matters would be wise to seek the advice of a family law attorney.

Source: delawareonline.com, "New marijuana laws’ effect on child custody," Kristen Wyatt, June, 16, 2014 WUSA-9, "Md. governor signs marijuana bills into law," Bruce Leshan, April 14, 2014 ProCon.org, "22 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC," 2014