Can Marijuana Use Affect Child Custody?
Marijuana use has been decriminalized and even legalized in some states in recent years. Nowadays, it seems as though almost everyone uses marijuana regularly. If you’re a parent, you may wonder how this affects child custody. If you or the other parent uses marijuana, could either of you lose custody? It will depend on whether or not the use qualifies as child endangerment, which can vary from cases to case.
Maryland’s Marijuana Laws
In Maryland, marijuana is legal for medical use only. While it is illegal for recreational use, possession of up to 10 grams is decriminalized. Marijuana possession is a misdemeanor if the person is in possession of amounts ranging from 10 grams to 50 pounds. A person could face one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If a person is in possession of more than 50 pounds of marijuana, the charge is elevated to a felony. They can face five years in jail and a $50,000 fine.
How Does Child Endangerment Apply?
All parents are responsible for making sure that their child is safe and free from dangerous situations. If a parent’s marijuana use endangers their child, then the court can take action. However, not every situation is child endangerment. Each case is different.
The court may feel that blowing marijuana smoke at a child or smoking marijuana in front of a child would constitute child endangerment. The court may also consider whether the child was injured or had access to the drugs.
Parents have been arrested in the past for using marijuana in front of their child. However, many would not consider marijuana use to be enough to charge a parent with child abuse or neglect. In order to strip a parent of their custodial rights, Child Protective Services would first need to look for signs of child abuse, neglect, or deprivation. The agency would then compile a report for the court, which will have discretion over the next steps.
Does the Legal Status Matter?
Legal status has no bearing on child endangerment. Marijuana use can cause harm to a child, regardless of whether or not the drug is legal in a state. The same applies to parents who live in states where recreational use of the drug is legal. In these cases, recreational marijuana use is compared to alcohol consumption. It can still affect a child based on how it is used.
Contact a Maryland Family Law Attorney Today
Child endangerment is taken seriously. However, marijuana use may or may not be enough to take a child out of a parent’s home. There is no clear-cut answer and it will depend on whether or not the child is being neglected or abused due to the drug use.
The Columbia divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. can help with child custody cases. We can help you get the best outcome possible. Call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form for a consultation. We have two offices to serve you.