The abuse of alcohol is often a factor in contested child custody and access hearings. While “social” drinking has never been a concern, where a parent has a history of alcoholism, binge drinking, or drinking and driving, a court will seriously examine whether alcohol abuse is present and take steps to ensure children are protected from its impact.
With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State and Colorado, and the introduction of decriminalization bills in New Jersey, Texas and New Hampshire, family court judges will be faced with a fresh dilemma. When smoking marijuana was against the law, it was clear: a parent who broke the law may not be a suitable custodial parent in some jurisdictions. More often both parents engaged in the activity so the issue never saw the light of day in a courtroom.
But in states where marijuana is now legal and government regulated, it can’t be any different from the consumption of alcohol, which is not a problem unless it results in dangerous behavior affecting the child.
Also consider whether smoking pot in a state where it is not legal but has been decriminalized is any different? Marijuana advocates, who favour legalization, realize that in many jurisdictions legalized pot may be difficult to achieve, but who can argue against decriminalizing marijuana possession in small amounts?
It is inevitable that the legalization/decriminalization debate will come to Canada, particularly if the Liberals are able to oust the Conservative Harper government.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang