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Mississippi medical marijuana users: Child custody jeopardized?

Marijuana use, even in states that allow its use, has a degree of stigma. This is so even as more and more states are leaning toward legalizing it, at least for limited purposes. Mississippi has even taken steps to legalize the medical use in certain situations. However, the medical marijuana community is likely watching an out-of-state child custody case in which a mother's medical marijuana use apparently influenced the court about custody.

The story for the man and woman at the center of the case began in Sept. 2011. Police raided the couple's home because they claimed to have smelled marijuana. Although they discovered plants, no charges were filed because they were legally allowed to use the drug to treat their epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, respectively.

Almost two years later, a custody dispute between the woman and her ex-husband over their son led the ex-husband to contact Child Protective Services. In Sept. 2013, the infant daughter of the woman and her current husband was removed from their custody for reasons that are unclear, although some claim it was due to their connection with medical marijuana. The infant was returned approximately six weeks later.

Unfortunately, the custody battle between the woman and her ex-husband continues. As the court presides over the situation, the woman is limited to only one supervised one-hour visit with her son each week. The woman, who resides in Michigan, alleges that there would be no dispute with the court over custody if she did not use medical marijuana. However, she additionally claims that denying her custody of the child is a violation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which prohibits denying a parent custody due to use of medical marijuana unless the use creates a danger for the child, which does not appear to be the case in this situation.

The couple claims that using medical marijuana to treat their illnesses is both fast and extremely effective. For this woman, she is fighting for child custody even though it has been allegedly been denied because she participates in an activity specifically allowed by state law. People in Mississippi who feel they have been unfairly denied access to their children have the right to fight for a relationship with their child. However, familiarity with state laws and local procedures may be helpful in ensuring the best possible outcome.

Source: Detroit Metro Times, "Medical marijuana use at center of child custody battle", Larry Gabriel, May 7, 2014

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