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Is new bill protecting children or stripping parents' rights?

While there is national movement surrounding the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, some legislators in Michigan are concerned about the impact the use of medical marijuana may have on children whose parents use the drug. Presently, in Michigan a 2008 medical marijuana law permits the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medical use.

When it comes to use of marijuana for medical purposes and protections for the parents who use it, a provision within this law specifically notes that an individual who uses marijuana from medical reasons, and as prescribed within the law, shall not be denied child custody or visitation rights unless the parent's actions are unreasonable and endanger the child. Furthermore, any allegations of endangerment to the child must be substantiated and clearly shown.

Despite the 2008 law, Michigan residents may find it interesting to learn that a state senator has proposed a bill which could prevent parents authorized to use marijuana for medical reasons from using it, if a judge makes a determination that such use is not in the best interest of the child or children. According to State Senator Rick Jones, the proposed bill came about after police reports indicated that children were accessing their parent's marijuana. However, the senator indicated that this bill has nothing to do with a recent case where a Lansing family temporarily lost custody of their daughter because they used marijuana in the presence of their 7-month-old daughter.

Under the proposed bill judges will be able to access the medical records of those parents who are authorized to use marijuana to determine if their medical condition indeed warrants use of marijuana. Furthermore, an independent medical evaluation may be ordered to determine if use is necessary. If the judges determine that use will harm a child, then the parents could be ordered to stop using marijuana.

The bill is not yet law, but for parents in Michigan who are concerned how this may affect them or who have lost custody of their children due to use of medical marijuana, they may want to be on the lookout for more information.

Source: City Pulse, "Jones singles out parents who are medical-marijuana patients," Andy Blaskovitz, Jan. 16, 2014

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