Responsible Pot Use, Responsible Parenting: What’s The Problem?

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel November 25, 2014

    Responsible parenting

    One of the policy areas in greatest need of reform involves the typical response of our child custody system in this country when they learn that a parent smokes marijuana; in all states today, including those that have legalized marijuana either for medical use or for all adults, the child custody agency stubbornly maintains an unfair bias against parents who smoke marijuana.

    I suspect most of us have personally witnessed the disruption to someone’s life that results when, for any of a number of possible reasons, a parent’s marijuana smoking becomes known to the state’s child welfare agency. Sometimes it is because the couple are going through a hostile separation or divorce, and one parent attempts to use the other’s use of marijuana to gain advantage, either to limit that parent’s access to the children or to get a more favorable financial arrangement. Other times it begins with the complaint of a nosy neighbor who claims to have smelled marijuana (or to have seen someone smoking it), and who calls the authorities.

    Regardless of the origin of the complaint or the motivation of the complaintant, once the state’s child welfare agency is called into the dispute, a legal process is begun that will all too often be disruptive to the health and welfare of the child, the very opposite of the stated intent of the inquiry. It is also an expensive and heartbreaking experience to a parent or parents who have to hire lawyers and focus their life for months on end jumping through any number of legal hoops to demonstrate that, despite their marijuana smoking, they remain loving parents who provide a safe and healthy environment for their minor children.

    To understand this awkward legal squeeze all too many parents find themselves facing, it is important to realize we have parallel legal systems in effect in these states: one deals with what conduct is or is not criminal; the other focuses only on what is in the best interests of the child. And even as we continue to make progress removing the responsible use of marijuana from the criminal code, either for medical use or for all adults, the child custody courts in those same states continue to begin any inquiry with the presumption that marijuana smokers are not fit parents, and marijuana smoking by adults, even when it is protected conduct under that state’s laws, is dangerous to any children and evidence of an unhealthy environment in which to raise a child.

    Read the full article at marijuana.com

    41 responses to “Responsible Pot Use, Responsible Parenting: What’s The Problem?”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      Something like this may be warranted with alcohol or even tobacco, but with marijuana this approach is pointless, cruel and not in the best interests of the children these agencies are supposed to protect.

    2. Anon says:

      Thank you NORML for bringing this critical issue forward. It is an outrage that this is happening to law abiding adults, just the DHS grasping for straws and they need to be confronted about it ASAP.

    3. Peggy La Salle says:

      They took my kids away in 1999 gave them to foster homes all because my husband & I smoked pot! And now look it’s being legalized everywhere!

    4. Dave Evans says:

      The problem is control freaks: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.

    5. Julian says:

      Thank you Keith, for drawing attention to the dark and ugly center of hypocrisy in marijuana prohibition.
      It never ceases to amaze me that the very same Department of Health and Human Services that can take state custody of one’s children for nonviolent or even a fundamentally necessary medicinal marijuana use and then place that child into private, potentially violent, unsupervised foster care for profit also happens to be THE SAME AGENCY of our government that owns U.S. Patent 6630507 for “cannabinoids as neuroprotectants.”
      So the D.H.H.S. is punishing and prohibiting loving parents as marijuana consumers on one hand, and then PATENTING marijuana on the other. It is a RELIEF of some form or another that this hypocrisy was accepted as testimonial evidence in the recent trial with pending Federal Judgement in the U.S. v. Pickard, et al, in Sacramento. Much needed attention to this evil Federal hypocrisy was brought to light in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Weed 2 documentary, concerning parents of weed refugees in Colorado who are afraid to take their epileptic children across state lines for fear of Child Protective Services taking their children away and potentially killing them by denying them the medicinal marijuana they need to stop the seizures. Worse yet, federal guidelines insist on providing pills with lethal side effects, incentivized with more money to private foster parents by fabricating disabilities for pills and profit.
      How ironic that in the District of Colombia soon the greater threat on the corner, while consuming weed 5 blocks from our nation’s capitol, will less likely be your local drug dealer, and more likely be a paid informant disguised as a social worker paid off in $5,000 kickbacks from the DEA through their Special Operations Division, just to settle drug related cases.

      And private adoption agencies have multi-million dollar federal contracts that provide more incentive to separate nonviolent families to profit off of state custody than those parents who consume harder drugs. In order to fundraise, private “child placement centers” or shelters for children are motivated by providing hopeful adopting parents and adopters for profit alike with children who are less likely to be violent… Such as the children of parents who primarily consumed marijuana.
      What this whole discussion boils down to is
      “HOW do we pay our social workers and law enforcement?” And
      “Is their a better way to pay them so we can prioritize our children’s health and safety, such as rewarding bonuses and promotions to law enforcement and social workers who detain violent criminals instead of seizing property and children of non violent marijuana consumers?”

      De scheduling marijuana comes to mind… Passing Dem. Representative Steve Cohen’s (TN) amendment that allocates $5,000,000 from the DEA’s budget and spends it on rape kit backlogs sounds like a GREAT place to start.

      But ultimately we all as Americans must be charged with neglect; We are neglecting our Democratic responsibilities to participate actively in the accountability of our government when we fail to vote, be informed, or provide our neighbors with the intervention they would rather take from us than the government if they knew they would be intimidated with incarceration in exchange for signing the rights of their children away.

      Unfortunately, the parents’ cries of government failure to account for the safety of their child came too late for the parents of 2 year old Alexandra Hill 2 years ago in a town North of Austin Texas. The happy little toddler was taken from her parents after they admitted to smoking marijuana after the child’s bedtime. Alex was placed in a foster home with four other children with a woman who admitted to “looking for more children” to support herself. Mr.Hill complained of “moldy backpacks” and “Bruises ” on little Alex’s face, and at one point refused to return his daughter to authorities until they threatened him with jail. It would be the last time he saw his daughter. 2 year old Alexandra Hill was murdered by her foster mother in a fit of rage, body-slamming the little girl to her untimely death onto the floor. The foster mother was under private contract without adequate supervision from theTexas Mentor Program (STILL in operation) which receives a $10,000,000 federal contract to house children in the State of Texas, and is merely a subsidiary of larger private adoption facilities that receive even larger federal contracts without adequate supervision.

      And if the parent is an alcoholic? They get an AA program and retain custody. You can smoke a cigarette with a baby in your hand and pass a child welfare inspection, but lose custody for providing marijuana to stop the same baby’s seizures.
      I can’t imagine of a better reason to vote and donate to NORML. This evil must end by shedding the disinfecting light of truth on prohibition. And while we have blindly made concessions to these dark laws that profit off the weaker members of society, too afraid or sick to demand a search warrant, we cannot idly stand by and do nothing as babies and children are exploited for profit by our own government. End Prohibition. Donate to NORML now.

    6. AlaminoCasino says:

      So I wonder why they don’t call for the removal of all alcohol from restaurants and bars since it gives someone the opportunity to drink and drive, thus putting you, your children and others in danger. I once asked a cop if drinking and driving is illegal, why are there parking lots in bars? He couldn’t answer me. He tried the whole “well, there is a cut off limit” and I was like dude how many times have you been to the bar and saw someone get cut off? He said, true and that was the end of our conversation.

    7. TheOracle says:

      Having your kids taken away is absolutely still a major problem, as is cannabis banking!

      These agencies need a complete fucking overhaul of their SOPs (standard operating procedures). They need their budgets either de-funded so they can’t keep pulling this shit, regardless of whether they’re in a state where it’s legal or not. Regarding cannabis banking in states where it’s not yet legal, it ought to be, except that there are a lot of states without the ballot initiative that are prohibitionist strongholds. Barry’s showing he’s got some huge balls with his executive order on immigration, and now I’d like to see his balls on legalizing cannabis banking and ending this bullshit of taking away people’s kids because the parents are cannabis consumers. I mean, hey, what the fuck, if the parents are NOT letting their kids do it they are NOT corrupting minors in the same way that parents who use tobacco or alcohol in front of their kids are corrupting minors. You can take your kids to a restaurant that serves booze and tie one on and no fucking cop is gonna say shit, no fucking child protection agency is gonna say shit or lift a finger to take your kids away. WTF, Barry!

    8. Voice oof the Resistance says:

      Oh Judas priest!! I grew up in foster-care, and Ive wrote about the sad experience that was my child-hood here before, and I’ve been fighting fascism in America since long before I knew what it was I was fighting. Running down the hallway of Lewis, and Clark elementary in Great Falls Montana as fast as I could go. The school principal hot on my tail with one of those board of education paddles with holes in it. The Vietnam war era when adults acted like children, and children fought a war for freedom.

    9. Sara Arnold says:

      For more information on this issue and to help bring change, check out Family Law & Cannabis Alliance (FLCA) at http://www.flcalliance.org/.

    10. Galileo Galilei says:

      I wonder if there’s any legal recourse against the glaring incompetence high lighted in the article and expressed in Julian’s and Peggy’s comments.

      I don’t know beans about the law. Could a class action suit be brought against the kind of gross incompetence and malfeasance seen here?