January 7, 2015

As many cannabis patients have experienced, once a complaint comes across a Child Protective Service (CPS) social worker’s desk, a grueling legal process has begun. That means, if an ex-partner, nosy neighbor, or law enforcement official files a complaint against with CPS alleging your cannabis use “endangers” your children, CPS may take children away from the home. Sometimes, especially when the parent is arrested for a cannabis related crime, CPS may take the child into custody immediately or can even take a child out of school.

What Happens After the Investigation Begins?

When a CPS worker files for an investigation, the parent may have to face a judge in Children’s court to prove they are responsible and fit parents. Children’s court focuses on what is in the “best interest” of the child and currently medical cannabis is scrutinized and presumed to equate neglect. Children’s court can make a parent jump through hoops with the threat of removing children from their home. For example, the court may require the parent to take drug education and parenting class, in order to prove they are suitable parents. At the end of it all, parents will be required to promise that they will never use any drug in front of the child, even if they are legitimate medical cannabis patients.

How to protect yourself?
First, a parent growing any cannabis in their home needs to make sure that the child does not have access to it. Meaning, keep it behind locked doors! Older children should be educated and disciplined to know not to be around the cannabis. Parents must ensure the child does not have access to any cannabis paraphernalia such as pipes, bongs, etc. Finally, parents should not smoke cannabis in front of the child. (Duh!)

How to Protect Yourself After an Investigation Begins?
In the spirit of cooperation, parents may decide to discuss matters with the CPS worker, but be aware that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. A parent may decline an interview with CPS and that may be advisable, especially if there are criminal charges pending, however, CPS may threaten to take the kids away based on your failure to cooperate. Therefore, the decision to speak or remain silent is a double edged sword and one that should not be lightly made. If parents decide not to speak to a social worker, this decision should be communicated respectfully.

The Real Problem?
The problem does not lie in unsuitable parents, but in the legislation and regulations that should be changed in order not to disturb the lives of harmless medical cannabis patients. This is still a fault in our system that has become a nuisance for medical cannabis patients, just as is true in employment discrimination and driving-related offenses.

Read the original article in Culture Magazine here:

Hope you find this article helpful. Contact Meital Manzuri for further help. Meital Manzuri is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney, speaker and consultant for patients, collectives and dispensaries. If you have questions about medical cannabis or any other criminal defense matters, she can be contacted via phone at (310) 601-3140 or www.Manzurilaw.com.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.