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Questions about parent protections for medical marijuana users

Michigan, like many states, allows the use of marijuana for some medical treatments. Who has access and how the drug is dispensed is highly regulated. Indeed, the rules can vary from city to city.

You may ask what this has to do with family law. The answer is quite simple. Marijuana use carries with it a stigma in some circles that built up over many decades. That's not easy to shake, as medical and recreational marijuana proponents can confirm. If you are a parent who shares child custody and you are a medical marijuana user, you may well have found yourself having to defend your custodial and visitation rights – even though the state's law seems to offer clear protections.

What the law says

Spelling differences aside, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act clearly states, "A person shall not be denied custody or visitation of a minor for acting in accordance with this act, unless the person's behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the minor that can be clearly articulated and substantiated."

That "unless" clause is the hitch. That which constitutes an "unreasonable danger" is something subject to interpretation by a judge. What the standard is for clearly articulating and substantiating alleged danger can also vary from court to court.

Other state law also can play a role. For example, if one parent can show proper cause or that a change of circumstance in the situation of the other parent has taken place, a court has authority to change existing child custody orders.

What you can see is that the prospect of custody and visitation arrangements could be affected when medical marijuana use is a factor. If this is the case for you, you should seek out an experienced attorney to learn what your options are for protecting your parental rights as well as your right to receive the legal medical treatment your doctor prescribes.

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Questions about parent protections for medical marijuana users | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC