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Could using medical marijuana cost you custody of your child?

Research has shown that medical marijuana can help ease the symptoms of many conditions and illnesses. This is probably why our legislature decided to legalize medical marijuana in our state. But when these laws were being drafted, no one could have predicted that they would one day create complex family law issues. No one could have predicted that one day, medical marijuana use could influence a judge’s decision when it comes to child custody. Some worry that if legislators do nothing to remedy the problem, it could start affecting more people, including residents here in Spokane.

Most people know that in cases of child custody, judges usually consider what is in the best interest of the child before making a decision. But what several cases across the nation point out is that this legal standard tends to become subjective when medical marijuana is involved. And with little help from current laws, it’s creating problems many parents might not be happy with.

Many cases involving medical marijuana and child custody present judges with a difficult question: does the presence of medical marijuana in the household constitute child endangerment? For a divorced or divorcing couple, this question could weigh heavily on the mind of a judge, especially if they must make a decision that is in the child’s best interest. With no clear guidance from the law, judges are left to make their best judgment, which could mean a loss of custody or even visitation depending on the judge’s interpretation of the law.

While some legislatures have tried to take up this issue in order to resolve it, pushback from both sides of the debate has left most decisions at a stalemate. In some states, it has forced some lawmakers to abandon the effort entirely.

Though we know that this week’s blog post might not apply to all of our readers, we know that it could for some. By presenting our readers with this complex legal issue, we hope that they will see how difficult a situation like this could be and realize that this situation could become exacerbated without legal counsel.

Source: The Start Tribune, “Changing marijuana laws forcing judges, child protection services to re-examine endangerment,” Kristen Wyatt, June 15, 2014

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