SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

June 16, 2014

Changing pot laws prompt child-endangerment review

DENVER — A Colorado man loses custody of his children after getting a medical marijuana card. The daughter of a Michigan couple growing legal medicinal pot is taken by child-protection authorities after an ex-husband says their plants endangered kids.

And police officers in New Jersey visit a home after a 9-year-old mentions his mother’s hemp advocacy at school.

While the cases were eventually decided in favor of the parents, the incidents underscore a growing dilemma: While a pot plant in the basement may not bring criminal charges in many states, the same plant can become a piece of evidence in child custody or abuse cases.

“The legal standard is always the best interest of the children, and you can imagine how subjective that can get,” said Jess Cochrane, who helped found Boston-based Family Law & Cannabis Alliance after finding child-abuse laws have been slow to catch up with pot policy.

No data exist to show how often pot use comes up in custody disputes, or how often child-welfare workers intervene in homes where marijuana is used.

But in dozens of interviews with lawyers and officials who work in this area, along with activists who counsel parents on marijuana and child endangerment, the consensus is clear: Pot’s growing acceptance is complicating the task of determining when kids are in danger.

A failed proposal in the Colorado Legislature this year showed the dilemma.

Colorado considers adult marijuana use legal, but pot is still treated like heroin and other Schedule I substances, as they are under federal law. As a result, when it comes to defining a drug-endangered child, pot can’t legally be in a home where children reside.

Two Democratic lawmakers tried to update the law by saying that marijuana must also be shown to be a harm or risk to children to constitute abuse.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • City gets four bids for McKay School BEVERLY -- In the latest round of bids for the McKay School property, the city will consider four new proposals it received last week. The most recent proposals mark the fourth time the city has reviewed bids on the property and the second effort for

    August 20, 2014

  • Police to put down their pens, write electronic tickets BOSTON -- State troopers will soon toss handwritten tickets in favor of electronic citations to save money and time, and local police across the state could eventually follow suit. State police using the system will swipe or scan a driver's license t

    August 20, 2014

  • 140819_SN_DLE_VAPOR2 No 'butts' about it: Vapor stores pop up despite e-cig concerns Michael Greene sells e-cigarettes because they saved his life. And if they were available in the United States 17 years ago, they might have also spared his father, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years. "If you put too many regulati

    August 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140819_SN_DLE_MURPHY4 109 days, 2 new lungs later, Essex Deputy Sheriff Murphy comes home

    Dozens of friends and family members lined up on Balcomb Street Tuesday evening to greet Newton Murphy as he arrived home from his double lung transplant. Murphy, the Essex County deputy sheriff, had been in the hospital for 109 days after his surge

    August 20, 2014 8 Photos

  • Sex offender Matthew Delima, who fled with teen, gets 2-10 years

    SALEM -- A judge Tuesday returned a homeless Level 3 sex offender to state prison for two to 10 years, but he said that after reading police reports and other records in the case, he would have imposed even more time. The reason Judge Timothy Feeley

    August 20, 2014 3 Stories