Beginning in July 2023, recreational marijuana became legal in Maryland, and one question attorneys and parents have had has been what effect, if any, does legalization of marijuana have on custody determinations? In November 2023, law clerk Bryanne Flannery attended the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) Hot Tips in Family Law Seminar, wherein she learned about the new legal recreational cannabis laws and what they mean for child custody cases.
In the seminar, “What Legalized Cannabis Could Mean for Your Maryland Child Custody Case,” attendees heard from Dr. Alexander Dix, PharmD. According to Dr. Dix, medicinal cannabis use is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational cannabis use is legal in 24 states and Washington, D.C. Dr. Dix explained in great detail how cannabis users can responsibly consume the substance by becoming informed on appropriate dosing amounts, timing of dosages, and the symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder.
Erin Kopelman, Esq., and Krystle Acevedo Howard, Esq., then provided insight on what impact legalized cannabis use may have in a custody dispute. In Maryland, judges and magistrates determine custody based on the best interest of the child, and to do so, they examine a variety of statutory factors. While discretion of the weight of the factors lies with the court, Ms. Kopelman explained that a parent’s use of recreational substances can come into play during the best interest analysis, including factors related to the stability and foreseeable health and welfare of the child, how to place the child’s needs above the parties’ needs, and each party’s role and tasks related to the child and how, if at all, those roles and tasks have changed as a result of the substance use. Generally speaking, use of cannabis by a parent is not considered neglect or child abuse in Maryland.
As an attorney, it is important to talk to your clients about cannabis use, and if you are a parent who uses cannabis, it’s important to consider what impact, if any, it has on your parenting ability. Some questions to ask include, “Do you use cannabis? If so, for how long and how often?,” “Is your use recreational or medicinal?,” “How much money are you spending on cannabis?,” and “How often do you use cannabis in situations that could be physically hazardous, such as driving, while caring for your children?” This encourages open and honest communication between clients and their attorneys about responsible cannabis use and considerations for custody cases.
If you want to know more about cannabis use and its implications for your custody case, contact Wasserman Family Law at email@example.com or call our main number 410-842-1070.
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