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California parents who use marijuana still need to be cautious

Twenty years after California became the first state to allow medical marijuana use, it became the fifth state to legalize the drug's recreational use.

However, is the voters' approval of Proposition 64 enough to help parents who are already locked in custody battles with the state due to their marijuana use? Is it enough to prevent more parents from finding themselves in the same position, separated from their children due to a state social worker's concern over the drug's use in the home? Legal experts don't think so.

While California has legalized the use of recreational marijuana, it still isn't socially on par with having a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, and social workers have a rather broad latitude for what they can choose to consider dangerous activity in homes with children.

Proposition 64 did give a nod to those parents who have a doctor's letter for medical marijuana, saying that the courts cannot use the use of the drug for medicinal reasons to rescind or restrict custody. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the drug use can't be considered as a factor in the determination to remove children from their home and place them with other relatives or in foster care.

This is something that can't be overstated if you are a parent who uses marijuana, either with or without the doctor's letter.

Parents locked in custody battles with their ex-spouses may find that marijuana use is still being used as a playing card. A parent need only allege that the other parent is allowing the drug to lay around within easy reach of the kids or using the drug to the point where he or she is too incapacitated to make sure that the kids are well-cared for and fed.

If you're a parent who uses marijuana, an abundance of caution is necessary when it concerns your parental rights and the custody of your children. It may pay to consult an attorney at the first hint of an investigation into your parenting abilities, rather than wait until you see whether or not someone will try to remove the children from your home.