I have a medical marijuana card. Marijuana is legal now anyway. How will a judge look at my medicinal use of marijuana when it comes to ruling on my parenting time with my children?

The Court has the power to consider what are called “lifestyle” factors in determining custody and parenting time, but only if those factors are shown to cause emotional or physical damage to the children. Up until recently, those lifestyle factors were typically limited to issues regarding marital status, income, decisions regarding new relationships, and then, only if the evidence showed a new relationship had some sort of impact on the children. There have been cases where a court has ruled that a decision to engage in a homosexual or lesbian relationship cannot be considered during a hearing unless there was evidence presented whereby a judge could find that relationship endangered the children.

In August 2015, the Oregon appellate court ruled that a parent’s possession of a medical marijuana card, marijuana use and employment in a medical marijuana dispensary cannot be considered by a court in making a custody decision without evidence that the parent’s use would likely endanger the health, safety or welfare of the child. In fact, the court has an obligation to explain how those choices might damage the children or threaten their welfare.

I recently represented a parent who used marijuana medicinally even during parenting time. The opposing party sought to severely restrict my client’s time with the children, arguing that at times, she was seen smoking marijuana and sometime later, drove with the children. My client testified to using the medicine responsibly, and that she was never impaired around the children. She testified the marijuana was kept out of sight and locked up at all times, and she used it when the children were asleep, and smoked it outdoors. With regards to the issue of driving, there was no testimony regarding observations of unsafe driving. My client did not get custody but only because the other parent had more parenting time with the children overall, since the separation. My client did get a substantial award of unsupervised parenting time.

The take away- if you have a medical marijuana card, or use marijuana, always follow the law. Do not drive impaired. Do not take a chance of driving impaired. Keep your marijuana out of your children’s sight and never use it around your children. Never use marijuana recreationally in the presence of your children, and never use it to the extent your parenting ability is impaired or affected. So long as you follow those precautions, your legal use of marijuana cannot be used against you in a court hearing determining custody or parenting time.