How You Can Lose Your Kids With Legal Marijuana Use: Marijuana Civil Rights?

Can an admission of legal marijuana use on facebook result in your kids being taken from your home? Unfortunately, it can, as a Nebraska family recently found out.

Via Mom for Marijuana facebook page:

Hi, we’re [name withheld] from Nebraska and we have a story that we think, might spark a good debate.

My husband and I recently took a trip for the first time to Colorado this past valentines weekend, it was a late honeymoon. He has two children who were at their biological moms house for the weekend *she has them every other weekend*.

Because Marijuana is legal there, I partook. My husband couldn’t, because he has random drug tests at his work. I was so thrilled to be able to take care of my physical pain herbally instead of pharmaceutically *I suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic migraines*.

I made Facebook posts while I was there, about the awesome strains, tastes etc. I also posted pictures of some tickets to a cannabis club party.

Upon our return home, my husband’s children were seized from him for being in immediate danger. My husband’s sister saw the posts on facebook, and it prompted her to break into our premises while we were still in Colorado, snap pictures of a bag of catnip (literally) and call DHS because it looked to her like i’m a serious drug user…of marijuana.

The main thing they are using against us in court are the pictures I posted while in Colorado. Now his kids are gone because of something I did in a state where it’s legal.

We are beyond devastated and I feel like it’s all MY fault. Thanks for reading our story. If you think it could spark a good debate, then post it. Or send it to a news station. I just think the whole thing is wrong, and someone needs to hear about it.

This is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence. Most states have a Department of Children and Family or Child Protective Services services where they can take your kids out of your home if they believe they are in any immediate or continuing risk of harm or neglect. And, in the backwards thinking world of the government, even legal adult marijuana use could be considered “dangerous” to kids.

Artists rendering of poster's sister in law.

Don’t post photos of your marijuana use where your Reefer Madness sister-in-law might see them.

When they are notified of any threat, especially from another concerned family member, they are obligated to act. And yes, they can definitely get it wrong. Hopefully the sister-in-law in not malicious, but just completely ignorant in a “reefer madness” way. Of course, if there are other issues or biases going on with her, you would want to tell a lawyer that. 

The good news is that these agencies are mostly just about protecting kids. Yes, they can be overzealous, out-of-control and wrong on the facts, but there is a decent chance that this is fixable.

I would recommend getting a good family court lawyer. The facts as you describe them should be favorable to a reasonable judge, considering:

  1. There was never any marijuana in the home where the child stays.
  2. The parent of the child never smoked.
  3. No laws were broken in any way.

Unfortunately, there is no “civil right” to smoke marijuana, even legally. It is not a protected activity. Legal recreational use, or medicinal use can still be viewed as a threat to kids. It’s happened plenty of times in family courts across the country.

While this case in particular sounds like a clear cut and fixable mistake, the rights of parents are seriously threatened everywhere. There are literally thousands of parents who take medical marijuana, which makes them BETTER parents. Taking care of parents health needs and pain with cannabis is nearly always a more effective and less harmful solution that opiates or other chemical prescriptions.

Yet these legitimate and beneficial uses are still often ignored by family courts.

As we’ve talked before about how you can be fired for legal use.

Be Careful About What You Post Online

Anything you post can absolutely be used against you. Also, and Facebook, twitter, instagram pictures or other social media or online evidence can absolutely be used as evidence against you in family or criminal court.

So if you are a medical marijuana user with kids, you may be smart to not publicly talk about this.

And this is really unfortunate, because there are a lot of great groups working to advocate publicly for acceptance of marijuana use. But the fact remains that in 2014 there are real risks

About David Matson

David writes about criminal justice issues.
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  • Tom Hillgardner

    The husband should press criminal charges against his sister for burglary and trespass. Then, when they are done with that, they should sue the crap out of the state department of Children’s Services. There is a gross lack of evidence to believe that the children were in imminent danger of harm. Spark a debate? Hell, spark a lawsuit!!

    • https://plus.google.com/111626591184353506175?rel=author David Matson

      Agree. It does sounds like a burglary and trespassing charges would be legit. And it is tragically absurd that she used a bag of catnip as evidence.

      The case against children services might be tougher. They were acting on the best information they had, however stupidly and wrongly. But they do have a lot of discretion.

      But I agree that a lawsuit might be a really useful tool to slow down crazy over-reactions by the state. Even if there had been bags of marijuana found the house, how imminent and real a threat is that to the kids?

      Even if you think it warrant’s an investigation, that shouldn’t mean the kids are immediately yanked away from their father.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Josh

    on a different topic but similar if they can get away with this what else can and are they doing i sense a civil war within the next 10 year or so

  • tonya

    This is crazy. I was told by DHS as long as you were not smoking around the kids and if one oarent was just as if drinking alcohol…one parent be sober and like I said do not smoke around/in front of the children.

  • John Jackson

    what gives Child Protective Services the right to dictate what safe and what’s unsafe for our children in that the parents decision as long as we’re not out beating our children are putting our children in the streets or anything I don’t see any reason why they have any say so as to how we pair or what we do with our children Dave invaded my life is more times than I can count because somebody said something or somebody saw something snow buddies f****** business what I do or how I do I’m a f****** parents