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Wine or Weed: Colorado Custody Rights and the Effect on Children

In States where marijuana has been legalized, courts are beginning to view marijuana use similarly to how it views alcohol use. The issue is whether the use of marijuana negatively affects a parent’s ability to parent their child. There seems to be an overall consensus that there must be a causal connection between the parent’s use of marijuana and endangerment to the safety, health or welfare of the child.

Some factors the court might consider include:

  1. Does the parent keep the marijuana away from the child?
  2. Is the parent growing marijuana? How much?
  3. Are there security measures in place so that the children don’t get into the marijuana?
  4. How often does the parent use marijuana?
  5. Where is the child when the parent is using marijuana?

In one case, an Alaska Court determined that substance abuse was not affecting the children’s well-being at that time, but cautioned the parties that if the use of marijuana or alcohol in the future begins to negatively impact the children, the court may view this as a substantial change in circumstances – which would be a basis for modification of custody.

Additionally, an Arizona Court concluded that the use of marijuana, by itself, will not lead to restrictions on parenting time. It seems like the overarching issue is whether a parent who is using marijuana is concerned with the best interest of their child, and whether marijuana use has a direct, negative impact on minor children. The initial case law coming out seems to indicate that as long as the use of marijuana is not taking away valuable time with your children, then just like alcohol, parents living in states where marijuana is legal should be able to consume it.

If you are a parent and marijuana user, it is crucial to know your rights. Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel, LLC for all of your Family Law needs.