Portland Legal Services - Joanne Reisman, Attorney at Law
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Recreational marijuana and child custody

Now that Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Oregon we need to discuss considerations that parents should make about their use of Marijuana and disputes this might lead to in Custody and Parenting time matters.  Just like alcohol use, the court is going to want to know that a parent's use of any substance when they have children in their care, doesn't impair their ability to parent their children and does not put their child at risk. 

It should be common sense that you don't want to be intoxicated when driving or otherwise supervising the transportation of your minor children.   Not only is it illegal, but it puts your minor passengers at great risk of being injured or killed because your impairment means that an accident is more likely to happen.

But how about when you aren't driving.  When you and the children are out using public transportation.  Is it OK then to indulge?  Generally it is not a good idea.  You have young children with you that you need to be constantly supervising.  You can't properly supervise young children when  your senses are impaired.

How about when you have the children visiting during your parenting time?  Again, abstaining from recreational Marijuana use as well as alcohol use when it is your turn to parent is highly recommended especially if you have a very acrimonious relationship with the other parent. Don't give them any reason to haul you back to court and put limits on your parenting time. 

What about medicinal use?  There is a big difference between CBDs and THCs.  CBD only products can be safely used with no psychoactive effects.   Even CBDs with a small amount of THC can be used without noticeable impairment if the amount of THC is very little.  The problem is that the Judge you are going to appear in front of may not know the differences.  So if the issue comes up you should be prepared to put on expert testimony about your medical need to use Marijuana products, the types of products you use and what if any impairment this causes.  Parents don't lose their right to parent when they are on any other prescribed pain medication so the mere use of Marijuana for medical reasons should not result in your losing your parental rights.  But you need to be prepared to address the issue if it comes up in court.  You also need to be honest with yourself as to whether the level of medical intervention you need is to the point that you are too impaired to adequately parent.

The best way to deal with the other parent's concerns about your use of Marijuana and your parenting time is to discuss this during mediation.  Most Oregon family courts offer a mediation process with trained family counselors where parents can try to work out agreements for parenting time and custody.  These agreements can address legal substance use.   It is in your interest to reach an agreement with the other parent that is in the best interest of your children and then stick to whatever you have agreed to.
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