I Smoke Marijuana. Can This Affect My Child Custody Case?

Child custody blogUp until recently, marijuana was known as a “gateway drug” that could cause its users to become lazy, incoherent, and lead to use of more dangerous drugs. Now, marijuana use is becoming more widely accepted for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In Arizona, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes for qualified individuals. Bills to make recreational marijuana, similar to those in states like California and Washington, have been rejected by narrow margins. It would not be inconceivable for recreational marijuana to become legalized in Arizona in the near future. However, for now, marijuana is only legal in Arizona for medical purposes. If you are a marijuana user in Arizona that has minor children, you are probably wondering how your use can affect your child custody matters. 

Medical Use

Obtaining a medical marijuana card in Arizona is a stricter process than some states. You will either need to supply medical records or have a physical examination conducted as part of the process. Arizona also has more limited medical reasons to issue a medical marijuana card than some states. The fees for a medical marijuana card are typically at least a few hundred dollars. 

Medical marijuana in Arizona is governed by the AMMA, or the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Possession of marijuana in Arizona is illegal unless you meet the requirements set forth by the AMMA. However, the AMMA also provides that “no person may denied custody of or visitation or parenting time with a minor, and there is no presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this chapter unless the person’s behavior creates an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor as established by clear and convincing evidence.” This means that if you have a medical marijuana card and are abiding by the terms of the AMMA, your marijuana usage should have no impact on your child custody case. However, if you have a medical marijuana card, you could still engage in behavior such as driving while high (with the minor in the car), having more marijuana in your possession than allowed by the AMMA, or smoking excessively to the point where you can’t take care of your child. In these circumstances, even prescribed marijuana use can be used as evidence against you in a custody hearing. 

Even if you are legally prescribed marijuana as set forth by the AMMA, there are certain habits that you should adopt for the sake of making your custody case easier. You should avoid smoking in public and in front of your child- consider waiting until they have gone to bed to medicate. Store your supply somewhere safe that your child won’t be able to access. You can explain to your child that you use it as medicine if the child is old enough to understand. If you are on probation or parole, don’t use marijuana even with medical certification. 

Smoking Marijuana Without a Medical Card

blog about child custody in ArizonaFor some people, marijuana isn’t a medical necessity but is the equivalent of a glass of wine to wind down in the evening. However, without the AMMA certification, you can be arrested for possession of marijuana and other related charges. These charges are usually felonies and can have a significant impact in your child custody matters. The AMMA won’t protect you from these charges if you don’t have a medical marijuana card. 

Whether or not you are criminally charged for unlicensed marijuana use, the other parent may request a modification of the custody order. The court may order a child services evaluation, which will include drug testing. Positive drug test results, along with other evidence, can prove that one parent abuses substances to the point that it would be in the best interest of the child to take away custody. Smoking marijuana without a medical card can definitely put you at risk of losing time with your child. 

If You Are Using Marijuana, Know the Impact on Your Custody Case

If you are a marijuana user currently dealing with a custody matter, you need to know the potential impact on your case. Our Arizona Family Law firm offers free consultations so you can know your rights and be quoted for legal representation. Ask our experienced family attorneys about the repercussions of using marijuana around your child, the consequences that may occur, and let us guide you on the proper way to address your usage in regards to Child Custody Issues. Contact our office today. (480) 263-1699. Additionally, our attorneys offer affordable retainers and payment plan options when you’re ready to get started. Call and schedule your free consultation today.