As recently reported, a NJ Appeals court has ruled that the use of marijuana, in and of itself, is not sufficient to warrant the removal of a child from a home.
The ruling was handed down after a ruling on the case of “RW,” an 18 year old mother. RW was arrested for a parole violation in 2011. She was then placed in a program for young mothers, CAM – (Capable Adult Mothers). RW spoke openly and honestly with the CAM worker about her situation, and admitted to using cannabis while caring for her child.
After this information was conveyed to the CAM employee’s superiors, an emergency order for the removal of the child from the custody of RW was issued. While it is unclear precisely how frequently a situation such as this occurs, it has been posited that this is not an ‘insignificant occurrence.’
RW contested this ruling, and her case was heard by the Appellate Court. The Honorable Judge Alvarez ruled as follows:
- CAM worker’s verbal testimony to their superiors was hearsay.
- Simply violating parole was not an act of abuse or neglect.
- Cannabis alone does not inherently create a situation which places a child in danger requiring removal. The State failed to prove that cannabis has a deleterious effect on a child.
This ruling coincides with a general change in attitude towards cannabis use. States such as New York have reduced penalties for such offenses. The Governor of NJ has gone so far as to state that the war on drugs was a failure, and we should instead be focusing on treatment and rehabilitation.
What is clear from this ruling is that the State was unable to prove that cannabis use by a caretaker has any negative effect on children. It appears that the use of this substance is being more and more equated with alcohol consumption – which our society generally accepts. It should be noted that many people have argued that the use of cannabis is in fact safer and more desirable than alcohol use. What do you think?
If you have been ticketed or arrested for any drug offense, the experienced attorneys at The Rosenblum Law Firm are available to help. Call us for a free consultation at 1-888-815-3649.