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Child Custody Could Be Endangered By Illegal Use Of Medical Marijuana By Minors

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The legalization of medical marijuana (and even recreational marijuana) has many people convinced that it's only a matter of time before the drug ceases to be broadly illegal, even under federal law. However, the broadening social acceptance toward the use of the drug, particularly for medical purposes, has brought the issue from criminal court into family court as well. If you're a parent whose child suffers from a condition that could be treated by medical marijuana, read this first before you decide how to proceed.

1.) Not every state permits medical marijuana to be given to minors.

Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, state law may restrict the substance to those aged 18 and over, regardless of their medical condition. It's very important to know exactly what your state's laws are regarding the use of marijuana, marijuana-laced edibles, and marijuana-infused items by minors.

Keep in mind that the legal landscape regarding marijuana use is changing rapidly. While states like Colorado have been allowing parents and caregivers to give marijuana to their children (under the supervision and advice of a doctor) for a while now, Connecticut's law just recently changed to allow minors to receive the drug for certain conditions.

2.) If you allow your child to use marijuana against your doctor's orders, the doctor is legally required to report you.

If you believe that marijuana can help your child's medical condition, don't count on your family doctor's support you if you give your child the drug illegally. No matter how much medical evidence is on your side or how sympathetic your doctor might be, he or she is legally obligated to report the use of the drug to state authorities. In states where children can't be given a marijuana prescription and in states that don't allow medical marijuana use at all, you're committing a crime. 

3.) You could end up in a protracted custody battle over alleged abuse of your child.

You also run the risk of having your child (and any other children) removed from your custody by the state if you are charged with child abuse, endangering your child, or child neglect, even if your actions actually helped your child.

For example, an Idaho mother is currently fighting to regain custody of her children after she gave one of them marijuana-infused butter to help calm her child's seizures. In this situation, the children were actually lucky—because their parents are divorced, they get to live with their father and their mother has supervised visitation while both her criminal case and her custody case are pending. Had the parents lived together, the children would have been placed into the foster care system.

While the children's doctor has testified that the children weren't harmed and workers from Children's Protective Services also agree that the child wasn't harmed, the custody case revolves around whether or not the mother was negligent in her care of the children. She's likely to face an ongoing battle in both family and criminal court over the matter.

It's very important to be aware of the repercussions your decision to use medical marijuana on your child can have when it comes to custody and criminal matters. If you are at all unclear about the laws, talk to an attorney in your area.

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