Child Custody and Medical Marijuana Use: A New Problem for Parents

Illinois legalized both medical and recreational marijuana on January 1, 2020. However, use of marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, and there is still a strong stigma against it in the family courts. When divorced parents use marijuana, even for medical purposes, it can raise issues that negatively affect parenting time and custody issues.

If you are a divorced parent who needs to use medical marijuana, or you are concerned for your children’s well-being because of your ex-spouse’s marijuana use, a consultation with a family-law attorney can help find your best options. The child-custody lawyers at Wolfe & Stec offer a free and confidential consultation to examine your individual situation. Call us today at 630-305-0222 to get started.

Can Use of Medical Marijuana Affect Child Custody?

Medical marijuana is legal with a prescription in Illinois, and the drug is used to treat certain medical conditions and improve the lives of people who live with chronic illnesses. The argument over the legality of medical cannabis becomes extremely complex when it crosses over state lines. In some cases, as one military veteran and his wife found out, it can also affect a child custody agreement.

In this case, a retired U.S. military member and his wife lost custody of five of their children because of his use of medical marijuana. Although the veteran did have a valid prescription, it is not legal in the state where he previously resided. He planned to move to the state where his prescription was legal, but in the meantime, his children were taken into child protective services because family members reported concerns over a risk of exposure to or consumption of cannabis.

Medical Marijuana Use and Child Custody Issues

Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act governs the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time after a divorce. The amount of parenting time each parent has with their child is decided according to the best interests of the child. If one parent is using marijuana, even for medical purposes, the other parent may become concerned that the child is in danger and ask the courts for a modification of the parenting plan. The other parent may then have to prove that the use is not harming the child, or else parenting time or use of marijuana during it may be restricted.

Some concerns over medical marijuana use include:

  • Whether marijuana is being used around the child
  • Whether the child has access to the marijuana
  • Whether the parent drives while under the influence
  • Whether the parent can be responsible, perform parental duties, and tend to the child’s needs when using marijuana.

These fears are often cited in cases involving medical marijuana, but there is little evidence that a contact high is possible. Other risks are extremely low also. In some situations, there may be more danger involved if use is discontinued — for example, if medical marijuana is used to eliminate seizures or migraine headaches.

To place restrictions on one parent’s parenting time, courts must find that the preponderance of the evidence shows that use of marijuana during parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s “physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”

Contact Us for Help with Child Custody and Medical Marijuana Use Issues

Issues concerning child custody and medical marijuana are complicated, and a complex child custody battle merits the assistance of an experienced attorney. Illinois parents should take definitive steps to protect their parental rights while still protecting the best interests of the children. A case evaluation can identify options available to parents on both sides of the issues with medical marijuana and custody of their kids.

Don’t delay — contact Wolfe & Stec for help with any issues that may affect your custody agreement. We provide a free consultation, so call us today at 630-305-0222.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]