What Medical Marijuana Means for Child Custody Cases in Alabama

I’ll take excuses that don’t get anywhere with Child Custody judges for $1000, Alex…

– What is “but this is legal in like 13 states.” (33 according to WebMD).

– What is “it’s not like I had Meth in my system.” (Why did you agree to a drug test without a Court Order?)

– What is “it’s about to be legal in Alabama.” and in the next 18 months perhaps…

– What is “it’s legal in Alabama.”

Ooooh, I’m sorry. Your response is correct but the Judge could not care less.

The reality is, as long as you read more than just the headlines today, that Medical Marijuana is not legal just yet. It just establishes a Cannabis Commission, not kidding on that name, to meet together and study the issue. (I’m not sure a panel of AL government appointees, physicians and law enforcement officials, as qualified as they might be, will have anything new to add to a nationwide discussion that has passed muster in so many other jurisdictions)

But back to my point as far as Child Custody goes…

Think of Medical Marijuana from a Child Custody perspective like you would Suboxone, i.e., a legal substance with a HUGE stigma in the family courts of this State.

Medical Marijuana would correlate with underlying conditions that could affect one’s ability to care for and control a child, e.g., debilitating pain, chemotherapy, epilepsy and addiction. See the text of the original bill for a list of potential qualifying conditions.

Also, and on a related note, the list of qualifying conditions is so broad and in some instances vague that I can see Judges, DHR workers, and Guardians ad Litem rolling their eyes at the mere mention of such a prescription. Remember the “glaucoma” jokes when all this first passed in California?

Lastly, and hopefully obviously, marijuana use impairs your facilities. The example I hear a lot in my work is that Mom & Dad might burn one down on the back porch after the kids are nestled snug in their beds. No harm, no foul. Right? But the valid response is always, “what if something were to happen and an adult needed to drive to the hospital?” Nothing about that discussion changes just because something is legal.

(As an interesting aside, the bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist, and opposed in its original form by Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, a former police officer. So that’s sort of a glimpse at the dynamic, politically.)

Long story short, legalization of Marijuana in Alabama isn’t going to change anything in the Family Courts from a practical perspective. My advice to my clients with qualifying conditions would be to avoid it and seek more traditional, “Family Court-friendly” avenues of treatment, something we are glad to discuss with our clients at their consultation and during representation.


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit www.ThinkFoxtrot.com/public_calendars/ to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

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