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Will medical marijuana and child custody issues clash in Maryland

In the past few years, almost half of the states have passed some type of legislation that legalizes medical marijuana. However, there are concerns that the laws that regulate child custody have not been updated to address this issue. There have been conflicts that have arisen over whether the presence of the drug poses a danger to children. Since Maryland has also just recently passed this type of legislation, the possibility of a conflict could be an issue here as well.

There are reports from some other states concerning parents who have been temporarily denied custody or time with their children because a parent had medical marijuana in the home. In one situation, a mother lost legal custody of her infant child after it became known that she was cultivating the plant to help treat her husband's seizures. The complaint was lodged by the woman's former spouse, though it was not reported if he was the child's biological father. The baby was returned after spending several months in the care of a grandparent.

Another parent was denied unrestricted visitation with his offspring, even though he did not partake of the substance when in the company of his child. A court did eventually rule in his favor. Another woman was investigated by child protection workers after her son made references to hemp at his school, apparently within the hearing of his teacher.

There have been attempts in Colorado to pass updated laws that denote clearly when the use of marijuana by guardians could constitute a threat to the welfare of minors in the home. However, that effort failed when the concerned parties on both sides could not reach a consensus. In the meantime, this issue may continue to be a point of contention when either parent believes that the drug may affect the safety and well-being of children. There are resources in Maryland that can assist parents and other guardians whenever decisions regarding child custody are subject to change, whether due to a divorce or other change in a family's circumstances and living situations.

Source: The Washington Post, "Changing pot laws create gray areas in child-welfare and custody cases", Kristen Wyatt, June 15, 2014

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