- Jennifer Betz
Are Your Rights as a Parent Protected When You Use Medical Marijuana in Missouri?
Custody Battles and Adoption are Stressful - A MO Medical Marijuana Card May Help Protect Your Rights
The information contained in this article is not meant to be legal advice. If you are facing legal trouble related to medical marijuana use, seek the help of an attorney who is qualified in your state to handle such matters.
Lawmakers in Missouri recognized medical marijuana as a legitimate form of treatment for a wide array of physical and mental conditions in 2018, but some parents in the state are still on edge about the way they seek relief. Laws in Missouri related to parental rights and medical marijuana are somewhat subjective, leaving final decisions in custody battles up to judges and Child Protective Services representatives who may or may not have biases against medical marijuana use.
Thankfully, a 2016 Missouri Court ruling indicated that marijuana use alone is not grounds for loss of parental rights or home removal. This was before the current medical marijuana law was even on the ballot, so marijuana was not legal at the time of the Missouri precedent-setting ruling.
In 2020, St. Louis Democratic Representative Wiley Price IV proposed legislation that explicitly prohibited the removal of parents’ rights based solely on marijuana use, but the bill (H.B. 2715) is not currently on the house calendar.
The 2021 legislative session puts a heavy focus on laws related to foster parents, offering tax breaks and making it easier to adopt. One adoption law on Republican Representative Ron Hicks’ agenda makes it illegal to discriminate against prospective parents who legally use medical marijuana.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana When I Have Kids?
Back in the day, when marijuana was simply illegal, there was never any question about whether it was okay to use when you have children in your home. The answer was no, and you risked losing custody of your kids if the issue ever went to court.
Potential foster parents were denied their applications, and people looking to adopt had to make sure they were squeaky clean and free of all drugs, including marijuana for symptom relief.
Now that marijuana is considered by doctors and lawmakers to have medicinal and therapeutic value, marijuana use among parents, foster parents, and adoption potentials is viewed from a different perspective. However, explicit protections are still lacking.
Despite widespread acceptance and the fact that two-thirds of the country believes marijuana should be legal in some form or another, only ten states specifically protect custody and visitation rights of parents who qualify for medical marijuana.
Those states include Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, and Washington.
This does not mean that the custody of your children is at risk if you use medical marijuana.
In fact, plenty of parents across the state of Missouri safely and responsibly relieve their symptoms using medical marijuana, and local court rulings are overall supportive of this position.
Missouri Medical Marijuana Laws Are Somewhat Progressive
Out of all the states that have legal access to medical marijuana without recreational, Missouri is among the more progressive in its laws.
The program’s rollout may be slow due to strict regulations, but the Show-Me state has granted licenses to a larger number of dispensaries than many other states. And the fact that patients are allowed to purchase and smoke flower and pre-rolls is a step beyond what states like Ohio and Louisiana allow.
In addition to the more advanced laws related to form and distribution, Missouri is one of the few states that allow cardholders and their caregivers to grow their own marijuana plants.
As long as you are able to ensure that no unauthorized people have access to your plants—and you demonstrate a plan for fire safety if you use grow lights—you can have up to six mature plants, six seedlings, and six clones in cultivation at any given time.
All of this points to more relaxed attitudes about medical marijuana in Missouri. While specific protections for parents are not yet fully developed, there are fewer and fewer people who express biases against medical marijuana patients.
Medical Marijuana Use Alone is Not Grounds for Loss of Parents’ Rights
One of the most important ways to care for your children is to take proper care of yourself. You want to feel your best so you can get the most out of your time together, and medical marijuana does not necessarily impair your ability to take care of your kids.
Over and over again, courts across the US have ruled that marijuana use alone does not put children’s best interests at risk. And in Missouri, custody and visitation rights are always ruled upon after taking the best interests into consideration.
While there are some horror stories about people having their kids taken away over use of medical marijuana, extenuating circumstances are typically involved. Parents lose some of their custody rights when they are using marijuana in a way that is determined to endanger their children or prevent proper supervision and care.
Additionally, the powers that be generally do not like it when parents smoke marijuana in front of their kids. They believe that it sets a bad example, encourages youth to pick up the habit, and exposes them to secondhand smoke.
However, even for parents that lose the first time around, appeals courts often rule in favor of the parent who is using medical marijuana if there are no other factors at play in the ruling.
How Can I Protect My Rights as a Parent if I Use Medical Marijuana?
For some people, medical marijuana is the only thing that provides relief from debilitating symptoms. For others, it is the preferred alternative to opiates that may cause unwanted side effects like lethargy, drowsiness, and addiction.
You can use medical marijuana responsibly, and doing so is the best way to ensure that custody battles stick to your ability to care for your children, rather than focusing on your medical marijuana use.
Get Your Medical Marijuana Card and Keep it Up-to-Date
If you are concerned about potential custody issues with your kids and you do not yet have your medical marijuana card, you need to get one today. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is that all your marijuana use is within the parameters set forth by Missouri’s constitutional amendment for medical marijuana.
This means that you need to have a qualifying condition, get a recommendation from a doctor, and register with the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Purchase Medical Marijuana From Dispensaries or Get a Cultivator Permit
When you purchase medical marijuana, it must be from a dispensary located in the state of Missouri or a reciprocal state when they become available. Products purchased from these dispensaries are properly packaged and labeled, and they are certain to meet stringent safety standards set forth by the State.
If you would rather try your hand at growing your own medical marijuana, this is not the way to teach your kids gardening basics. Make sure your growing set-up is precisely in line with State growing guidelines, and that your children cannot access them.
Keep Your Products Locked Away
Marijuana in an edible form is particularly potent, and edibles are among the most common products responsible for accidental marijuana poisoning in children. Therefore, you need to keep all your medical marijuana products and paraphernalia under lock and key to ensure you are the only one in the household with access.
Don’t Use Your Medical Marijuana Products in Front of Your Kids
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding medical marijuana use is still going strong, and many people do not believe that your children should ever even see you using it. Especially if you smoke, there are concerns about secondhand exposure.
Regardless of whether you believe you should be able to use your medical marijuana as freely as you would use your inhaler if you had asthma, you are better off doing it out of sight when you are concerned for any reason about custody.
Make Sure Your Medical Marijuana Does Not Affect Your Ability to Supervise Your Children
This is probably one of the most complicated of our suggestions for staying safe about the way you use medical marijuana. There are so many variations with strains, CBD to THC content, the amount you use, and the way your body individually interacts with marijuana, that there is no single way to predict effects.
Some sources recommend that you avoid using medical marijuana within several hours before you are supposed to be caring for your kids. However, this may seem like an impossibility for people who have the most severe symptoms.
Our advice is to make sure you know how medical marijuana products will affect you before you use them at times that you will be a responsible party. If they make you feel confused, drowsy, or otherwise impaired, find another product.
Seek the Advice of an Attorney if You May Be Facing Legal Challenges
It is never good to wait if you may be facing legal trouble over your use of medical marijuana. The best thing you can do in order to protect your rights as a parent if they are being challenged is to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in Missouri marijuana laws.
Looking for a Medical Marijuana Recommendation?
Missouri Marijuana Card is here to help! Give us a call at 877-303-3117 to get your questions answered and make an appointment for as early as today. Or click here to schedule your appointment online right now!