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.