By Savanah St. Clair
Foster care can be a dangerous place for children. Foster children may be neglected, injured, sexually and physically abused, or even murdered by foster parents. But for foster children living in medical marijuana states, often the greatest danger can be CPS itself.
There are cases of children being taken away from parents and grandparents for every conceivable reason, or even no reason at all. One basis that has been used recently to attempt to remove children from their parents’ care and pushed through the system is medical marijuana. This does not speak of children who ingested the drug. In many cases, children are removed simply because their parents are medical marijuana patients or growers. Compounding the problem, parents often plead to false allegations instead of going to trial. This is because CPS tells the scared parents that if they follow instructions, they will get their kids back in six months. However, when the time comes CPS recommends termination of parental rights instead.
Cannabis is medicine, and loving parents should not lose their children due to a non-toxic plant. Cannabis is safer than aspirin, anti-freeze or household cleaners commonly found in our homes. Cannabis is less toxic than prescription drugs. Unlike aspirin or codeine, a child will not stop breathing or die from ingesting marijuana.
In fact, a child of any age cannot access the psychoactive effects of cannabis unless the THC has been decarboxylated. That is, raw cannabis cannot hurt a child.
There are some cannabis products that have been exposed to sufficient heat or pressure that they will medicate a child. Edibles should always be out of the reach of children, especially sweets infused with cannabis because cakes and pastries often are prepared to mask cannabis’ spicy or unpleasant taste. Common sense needs to be exercised at all time while parenting.
In California, children cannot be legally removed for pot only. The California Court of Appeals that oversees the trial courts where CPS operates, has stated that “… [A parent’s] use of medical marijuana, without more, cannot support a jurisdiction finding… not any more than the use of medications prescribed by his psychiatrist brings the children under the jurisdiction of the court.” (in re. Drake M.)
Elsewhere, the Court of Appeals stated that, “It is undisputed that a parent’s use of marijuana [hard drugs, or alcohol] ‘without more’ does not bring a minor within the jurisdiction of the dependency court.” (in re. Destiny S.)
In sum, California courts recognized that medical marijuana patients do not pose a serious risk of physical harm to children. That parents are not unfit per sé due to the presence of this non-toxic plant. That — after all — it’s just a plant.