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Medical marijuana at center of CPS child custody case

As our nation continues to adapt to changing views on marijuana use, Florida and other states struggle with how to balance the rights of adults with the obligation to protect the safety of children. In some instances, parents can lose their child custody rights when marijuana use is an issue. This is true of recreational use, and is also true for those who use marijuana for medical purposes.

An example is found in a family that has had five children placed into the care of Child Protective Services. The father of the children, a Gulf War vet, holds a valid prescription for medical marijuana in a state that neighbors his own. He uses the drug to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because he feels strongly that medical marijuana has had a positive impact on his own life, he and his wife have made efforts to move to the neighboring state and begin a grow operation to help other veterans and their families.

When the couple left their five kids in the care of a relative to set up that move, a relative took the children to the local police station, claiming that the parents had abandoned them. Child Protective Services became involved, and the family has now been separated since April 2015. The case has led to widespread debate across the nation.

The slow move toward legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use has left many states struggling to keep pace with those changes. There are laws on the books in Florida and elsewhere that protect children from the adverse effects of drug use, trafficking and sales. When a parent is using marijuana in a legal manner, the lines become blurred as to how that choice might affect his or her children. In cases such as the one mentioned here, a very hard line has been taken on the issue, and a family has been separated for nearly a year as the parents fight their way through the child custody system.

Source: alternet.org, "U.S. Veteran's Children Taken Away Over His Use of Medical Marijuana", Josiah M. Hesse, Feb. 1, 2016

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