How Marijuana is Impacting Divorce Cases

As an adult in New York, surely, you’ve heard all about the state’s sweeping changes in its marijuana legislation. While the laws regarding marijuana possession vary widely from state-to-state, New York is one of the states that has loosened its possession laws dramatically. For example, if someone were to get caught with 28 grams or less of marijuana, they’d be slapped with just a violation and a fine not to exceed $50.

Possess from 28 grams to 2 ounces of marijuana, and it’s still only a violation that is punishable by a maximum fine of $200. Then there’s medical marijuana. Someone may be eligible for medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with chronic pain, epilepsy, neuropathy, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, HIV or AIDS, ALS, and so on.

Even though it’s not that hard for New Yorkers to obtain marijuana for recreational or medical purposes, unfortunately partaking in the powerful drug can still have negative effects. Perhaps these adverse consequences do not involve criminal court, but they can certainly be an issue in the family court system.

How Can Pot Impact My Case?

Before New York softened its marijuana laws, marijuana was one of the drugs that spouses would use against each other in divorce cases. In other words, marijuana decriminalization has made great strides in New York, but pot smoking is still being used as ammunition in child custody cases.

One study raised the issue of how the number of medical marijuana patients is increasing, which raises concerns about how the drug could affect parenting. While the study found that six of 11 participants felt that marijuana helped them better manage their difficult emotions related to parenting and helped them be calmer around their kids, that’s not necessarily how the courts see it.

While parents may feel that marijuana makes them handle the challenging task of parenting, the issue is that in general, parental substance abuse has long been linked to child abuse and neglect. As such, when a parent accuses their ex of smoking pot, the judge on the case may listen up.

Is it being used recreationally? Is the parent driving while impaired by the drug? Is the pot smoking affecting their parenting? If a parent can convince a judge that marijuana is affecting the other parent’s judgment and parenting skills, the judge could decide to award primary custody to the non-smoking parent.

No matter how you feel about marijuana use, we can help. Contact Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. if you’re concerned how the drug could impact your family law case.