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What happens to medical marijuana users in custody disputes?

There’s a lot that can come up in the midst of family law disputes. In child custody matters, for example, one parent can call the other one out for excessive drinking or using drugs like marijuana.

According to a Huffington Post article, in the past courts have ordered parents suspected of using drugs to undergo testing on the spot. But with the recent recognition of medical marijuana under the Colorado constitution under Amendment 20, where is the line drawn?

About 125,000 residents of the state have license to smoke medical marijuana, and there are apparently more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks in the Denver metro area. More states appear poised to accept the drug for medical purposes such as chronic pain.

That creates an interesting complication for the courts. What if, for example, a parent in a custody dispute uses medical marijuana during parenting time? Should that constitute some sort of violation? And since doctors do not prescribe specific amounts of the drug, is there any way its intake can be properly monitored for legal purposes?

Citing a recent case handled by the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Huffington Post article notes that parents in future custody disputes may need to present specific evidence that the other parent’s action of smoking medical marijuana endangers the child’s emotional or physical health. And that may be tough to do. On the other hand, some medical marijuana users may simply not want to risk losing parenting time with their kids.

Since the situation is relatively new, there’s likely to be much more debate on this issue in the near future.

Source: Huffington Post, “Medical marijuana lights up child custody court,” Edra J. Pollin, Sept. 26, 2011


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