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Marijuana is now Legal in Missouri. Can the Use Affect a Divorce or Child Custody Case?

Child Custody
Marijuana is now Legal in Missouri. Can the Use Affect a Divorce or Child Custody Case?

Marijuana is now Legal in Missouri. Can the Use Affect a Divorce or Child Custody Case?

Missouri’s Amendment 3 legalized the recreational use of marijuana (although marijuana is still illegal under federal law). Prior to the legalization of marijuana, a person could only lawfully possess marijuana in Missouri with a medical marijuana license. I had written a blog that addressed the impact of medical marijuana as it pertains to child custody cases. What does the legalization of recreational marijuana in Missouri now mean for divorce and child custody cases?

When did Missouri legalize marijuana?

Sales of recreational marijuana begin in February 2023 although the law went into effect in December 2022. Missouri’s marijuana law now makes it legal for anyone older than twenty-one to buy and possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana. The marijuana must be purchased in Missouri from a licensed dispensary facility until medical facilities convert their licenses to comprehensive facilities. Missouri has been accepting applications to allow persons twenty-one years of age or older to cultivate plants for personal use within an enclosed, locked, facility. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provides information which can found here.

How does the use of marijuana by a parent affect a divorce or child custody case?

Now that Missouri has legalized recreational marijuana, evidence that a parent uses marijuana, by itself, is unlikely to affect child custody. A court is required to consider certain factors in making a child custody determination. A parent’s ability and willingness to perform their function as a parent remains a factor for a court to consider. The best interest of a child is of paramount importance to a court. A court can consider a parent’s inability to care for a child because of a parent’s marijuana use.  The type of evidence to be presented will depend on each parent’s individual behavior. The behavior could range from an inability to help a child with homework and personal hygiene to more extreme cases of abuse or neglect.

Each person’s divorce or child custody case is unique. As such, the type of evidence that will be presented will vary with the parent or family. A court will be the most concerned with how a parent’s marijuana use affects the parent’s ability to care for the health, education, and welfare of a child.

How can the use of other drugs affect a divorce or child custody case?

Drug use or drug abuse is not limited to marijuana. A parent’s use of cocaine heroin, methamphetamine, pills, and synthetic drugs can be presented in court. Judges in divorce and child custody in Missouri will be concerned with the use of these drugs, particularly in child custody cases. Reports exist of people who have died from the use of fentanyl and heroin. People who have attempted to produce methamphetamine create a risk of fire or explosion which creates a risk of harm to a child. And of course, the use of drugs can affect a parent’s ability to actually parent and care for a child. The parent who does not use or abuse controlled substances generally has the better argument to obtain custody of a child.

Do I have any chance of keeping custody of my children if I use drugs?

Yes. But, not without a change in lifestyle. There are ways that a parent can redeem themselves to improve his or her argument to maintain or obtain child custody.

Contact Scott

Contact Scott Hamblin for more information regarding divorce and child custody in Mid-Missouri.

Scott Hamblin earned his juris doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1999. Scott concentrates in his practice in the areas of divorce, child custody, and family law, and federal and state criminal defense and personal injury law.

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