Changing pot laws prompt child-endangerment review

June 16th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

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.

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Moriah Barnhart plays with her 3-year-old daughter, Dahlia, who is a cancer patient, at their home in Colorado Springs. Barnhart, frustrated with mainstream medical treatments, moved to Colorado, where adult marijuana use is legal, so Dahlia could receive cannabis-based treatment. But she worries that she could be prosecuted as a child abuser under the state’s current law.

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

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