In many states that have legal medical marijuana, patients are still treated like second-class citizens. Take this story from Washington state for example. Nicholas Pouch – a legal medical marijuana patient – lost custody of his children because he legally medicates with marijuana. It seems his organic farm is considered a dangerous place for kids to be.

A drug task force acting on a tip from his former partner raided his grow operation in 2007. Even though Pouch’s criminal charges were dropped, she cited the arrest and his marijuana use in winning full custody of their boys, now 9 and 11.

For the past 2 1/2 years, Pouch has seen the boys twice a month, during supervised visits at a neutral house in Olympia. “There’s no reason anybody should have to go through this,” Pouch said. “Why aren’t they here, chasing snakes like they like to do?”

If Mr. Pouch had a prescription of Oxycodone or Valium and was blown out of his skull during his waking hours, he probably would have had a better chance at keeping his kids. Or maybe if he was a raging alcoholic. What is it about marijuana that seems so evil to some? Is it the 70 years of anti-marijuana propaganda?

While those laws can protect patients from criminal charges, they typically haven’t prevented judges, court commissioners or guardians ad litem from considering a parent’s marijuana use in custody matters — even in states such as Washington, where complying patients “shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege,” according to the law.

Arbiters often side with parents who try to keep their children away from pot. Medical marijuana activists in several states, including Washington, California and Colorado, say they’ve been getting more inquiries from patients wrapped up in custody-divorce cases in recent years as the ranks of patients who use marijuana swell.

According to The Marijuana Policy Project only two medical marijuana states – Michigan and Maine – specify in their laws that patients won’t lose custody of their children unless they “endanger” them; although I’m sure authorities in Washington would consider marijuana “endangering.”

It still surprises me sometimes how much havoc 70 years of lies can cause. There are actually still people in this country – many in positions of authority – that believe marijuana is a dangerous, addicting “street” drug that will draw your kids in and destroy their lives. They refuse to believe that it has any medicinal value, and think medical marijuana is just a ruse for people to get high.

It is stories like this that remind us who we are fighting for. Not only are these people sick, but they are still being discriminated against. Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, there is work to be done.

- Joe Klare

About The Author

Joe Klare has been writing about marijuana issues for the past 5 years online, in print and on air.

  • Lisa

    I think dirty scum bags like my little girls dad shouldnt be allowed to see her. It is bad enough that she sees how abusive he is let alone what a high on he is. some scum bag docoter oked it for him to get his caregiver card on top of being an ex alcoholic. that is not the type of environment children should be predispose to, so they can grow up to be major pot heads. Where would our society be like if we had a buch of drug addicts running around because some quack doctor is making milllions off of our teens. why would we even bother having zero tolerance or dare in schools if we allow our children to grow up around this sh*t.

  • Jamie

    I agree, Lisa. My children’s father also grows, smokes, eats, drinks and lives marijuana under the auspices of being
    ‘legal”. He is abusing the system and making a mockery of the entire movement. He doesn’t work, has his “patients” coming and going at all times, and does not make much attempt to shield the kids from any of it, because he has fallen to prey to these pro-marijuana groups who enable irresponsible behavior. Marijuana may have its place in healthcare, but advocates need to encourage ALL users to grow up and start thinking not only about themselves, but about the innocent lives this chaotic, immature movement is affecting.

  • Toni Smith

    ok, so both of your children’s fathers are retarded losers. don’t blame the entire community of medical users just because of your one bad influence. sure there are a lot of abusers out there, but some people really do need this medication. imagine living with cancer, going through kemo(sp?) becoming bald and in pain until you die. marijuana gives you peace of mind, pain relief, happiness and hope. now imagine you’ve been struggling with not being able to eat anything. i am an unconcious anarexic, meaning a don’t purposely throw up, it just always happens. for years i struggled with keeping weight on, staying healthy and being really really sick… like hospital bed, can’t move, body dying sick. i thought to myself one day, medical marijuana. the first bowl i smoked, i knew this was perfect for me, since i am a naturopathic, (meaning no unnatural drugs for healing. no shots, pills, chemicals, ext). i ate. i ate a lot. i cried with happiness while i ate because food had never tasted and felt so good in the past 12 years. to this day i thank god everyday for this miracal plant and my love of food returning to me. so please, in the future, don’t pass judgement just because you’ve dealt with an abuser. think of me, fat and happy, able to play with my children because i am able to eat.
    toni marie
    proud mommy of raina marie and cyrus jammin

  • Lisa

    In a country where I have been denied rx medication for anxiety, insomnia and depression because it’s considered a “pre-existing condition” by health insurance carriers…what else is someone like me ( a mother) supposed to do? I don’t use it around my children, I don’t grow it. I smoke it, when needed which is usually in the night time hours when anxiety and insomnia kicks in. It’s been PROVEN that I am the better parent compared to my ex-husband, who by the way is a hardcore/ straight edge christian that doesn’t have time to spend with his own kids because he loves his new wife and other family so much. My kids do better in school when they are with me. I sit down with them and help them with homework, I read to them, I do physical activities with them on the weekends, I take them places, we have family time. We are a normal, very well functioning family. For the people who posted about their crappy spouses that they chose to have kids with….don’t take your family issues out on the rest of us responsible people who use medical marijuana. You chose these people to have kids with. If marijuana never existed, you’d be begging for prohibition, banning rx medications, and anything else you can think to place blame on…rather than realizing you had children with people who abuse anything they can get their hands on. That is a personal family issue, not something that the rest of society should be punished for. Also, I just lost my father to cancer 5 months ago. If it weren’t for medical marijuana, he would have suffered a terrible, painful death. It was recommended by a real doctor. It was given to him in pill form by a nurse at an actual hospital in Apple Valley, Ca. during his final weeks of life. You want to deny people like my father that kind of humane, compassionate treatment? Shame on you. You better hope you never get a terminal illness.