In recent years, a lot of the social stigma surrounding marijuana use has begun to evaporate. Many states have reduced penalties the possession of small amounts of marijuana, while others have even gone so far as to legalize the medicinal use of the drug. In some social circles, smoking a joint on a Friday night isn’t seen as being any different than having a few beers.
However, this doesn’t mean that Arkansas family courts see things the same way. An allegation that one parent is using marijuana – regardless of whether it is for recreational or medicinal purposes – can have a serious negative effect on that parent’s child custody case
Despite changing social norms, marijuana use is still very much illegal in the state of Arkansas. A parent who purchases or possesses marijuana runs the risk of encountering criminal charges that could significantly disrupt a child’s home life. In addition, courts are much more willing to presume that a parent who uses drugs will not be able to care for a child as well as a parent who abstains.
Using marijuana around the children is an obvious red flag in a custody case. Children can get sick or intoxicated from second-hand smoke, and being supervised by a stoned parent can lead to all sorts of problems.
However, parents can also run into trouble even if they only use marijuana infrequently and never around the kids. For example, the court may worry that the parent won’t be able to respond to an emergency situation. In addition, some judges see drug use as an indicator of lax morality. In a close custody case, even occasional marijuana use can be a deciding factor.
If you think drug use may be an issue in your child custody case, be sure to discuss it with your attorney early on in the process.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Pot Smoking vs. Medical Marijuana: What Are The Implications In A Custody Dispute?” Henry Gornbein, August 6, 2012.