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How marijuana use may affect your custody case

As the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has literally become mainstream, and three states (Washington, Colorado and Oregon) legalizing recreational use of the drug, marijuana use is likely to become more of an issue in child custody disputes. While it may be legal in some respects or decriminalized to result in a mere citation, the change in how marijuana is viewed may not translate from criminal courts to family courts.

Basically, drug use will be viewed in the context of the “best interests of the child” standard. As such, even though a parent may not be breaking the law by using marijuana if they are allowed for medicinal purposes, some believe that the mere presence of marijuana in a home is inherently unsuitable when kids are around. 

Moreover, it is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. Because of this, some believe that using marijuana is not in the child’s best interests, and a parent who does so is not fit to have custody.

Because the best interests standard is such a subjective measure, it is difficult to say whether casual marijuana use is actually harmful to a child. Indeed, there are differing degrees of use, which ostensibly will lead to differing results. However, judges, custody evaluators, guardian ad litems and attorneys alike will have to confront this question as more people use the drug for genuine and legitimate purposes.

If you are confronted with this situation, or are concerned by a parent’s use of marijuana, an experienced family law attorney can advise you of the potential problems that can come about. 

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