Marijuana Use in Custody Cases

August 7, 2014

In July, marijuana was decriminalized in the District of Columbia.  This November, the residents of D.C. will vote on legalizing marijuana.

In family law, this brings up the question: how does legalized marijuana affect custody disputes? Marijuana’s growing social acceptance is complicating the issue of what is in the best interest of the children.

For example, in Colorado, a man lost custody of his child after getting a medical marijuana card.  In California a jury convicted a woman of two counts of child endangerment, because of unsafe elements in the house, including marijuana left in the open.

In determining custody, courts look at the “best interests of the child.”  This is a subjective standard, with many variables to be taken into account.  Some of the factors considered in D.C. and Virginia include: the mental and emotional health of the parent, home environment, finances, and lifestyle choices.

Furthermore, under federal law, marijuana is still a Schedule I substance.  Therefore, when it comes to defining a drug endangered child, pot legally can’t be in a house with children.  The use of marijuana can be used against you in a custody case.

So even though marijuana may become legal in the District of Columbia soon, if you are involved in a custody battle, you should think carefully.  The Judge can still decide that it’s not in the best interest of your child to be around it.

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