Can Marijuana Use Affect Child Custody in California?

Marijuana & Child Custody: Can a Parent Still Smoke Weed?

Both recreational and medical marijuana use are legal in the state of California. Specifically, as of January 2018, recreational marijuana became legal for adults age 21 or older. while its usage is legal, parents who use cannabis can still face case complications because of their marijuana usage. In this article, we will discuss the potential impact that marijuana use can have on your child custody case as well as concerns you may want to address with your attorney.

Impact of Marijuana Use in Child Custody Cases

The courts will typically treat marijuana usage similarly to alcohol consumption. Thus, the court’s concern will be focused on whether:

  • Its use is excessive
  • Its use is in front of your children
  • Its use occurs when you are around your children or have physical custody
  • You drive a vehicle while under the influence
  • Its use occurs within 8 hours of your scheduled visitation time

If either party accuses the other of having a marijuana usage problem, the court will take action to investigate the claim. In most cases, they will order a drug test to analyze the accused’s THC levels, and the court will consult with experts to consider the best interest of the child. There are many factors that the courts weigh when deciding what is in the best interest of the child, including:

  • The parent’s mental, financial, and physical ability to take care of the needs of their child
  • The parent’s history of drug abuse or domestic violence
  • Parental fitness and parenting abilities
  • The child’s relationship with each parent

Habitual marijuana use can complicate a case as a parent may be asked to terminate or reduce their usage. In extreme cases, the courts may also consider requiring drug monitoring. However, it is important to stress that the usage has to be proven to be habitual and/or excessive.

If you recreationally use marijuana, you should tell your attorney—especially if you believe that the other parent will present that information in court. Even if you are not a habitual user, your attorney can better strategize and prepare your case.

To protect yourself and strengthen your case, if you do use marijuana, your attorney may recommend you take steps to ensure that:

  • Your children do not have visual or physical access to your marijuana or marijuana products.
  • You do not leave paraphernalia around the house, specifically in places where your children have access.
  • Your child’s exposure to marijuana is limited.

Medical Marijuana & Child Custody

While medical marijuana has been legal in California for decades, marijuana is still illegal on a federal level even for medical reasons. Parents can also have case complications if they use marijuana for medical reasons. Similarly to recreational use, the opposing party may accuse the other parent of overusing the marijuana or ignoring the doctor’s recommendation. Another concern may be that the parent claims the parent’s illness or condition in addition to the marijuana use affects your parenting abilities.

Consult with Our Skilled Attorneys

At The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc, our attorneys have decades of collective experience and have dedicated their practice to family law. If you or a loved one are involved in a child custody case, our attorneys are here and prepared to help you develop a solid case strategy and understand your legal options. We are also equipped to advise you concerning any unique matters, including if either parent uses marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.

To schedule a free 15-minute consultation and discuss your case with our team, call (949) 577-7935 or reach out online today. Don’t try to undertake your custody case alone.