Marijuana use and Child Custody


Because marijuana for recreational use is now legal in four states—with an additional 19 states legalizing medical marijuana use—many wonder how marijuana use and child custody issues will interact. In fact, the changing laws, not to mention the changing attitudes, across the United States regarding marijuana use, may have a significant impact on family law issues. Even in states where marijuana use is not yet legal, there has been an increase in support for decriminalizing the laws which govern marijuana.

Arguments that marijuana is far from the dangerous drug it has been made out to be are rapidly gaining ground. The medicinal benefits associated with marijuana have caused many people to change their own attitudes about the drug. Under federal law, however, having marijuana in the home for any reason at all—medicinal or recreational—is still illegal, therefore one parent may argue a child in the home of a parent who uses marijuana is in danger. This could lead to a parent’s custody rights being put in jeopardy when he or she engages in marijuana use in the home.


The issue is an extremely complex one. Family court laws governing child custody in states which have legalized marijuana use fail to reflect those changes. The top priority of all family court judges is the health and safety of the child and drug use has long been an issue in divorce and custody cases. This means it has been relatively easy to limit one parent’s contact with the children—or stop that parent from getting primary custody—so long as there was proof the parent was using illegal drugs, including marijuana.

Now consider the fact that courts rarely take a child from a parent due to consumption of alcohol, which is a legal substance, and compare that to legalized marijuana use. One might assume the courts will take the same approach with marijuana, however the fact that some people, including judges, still have strong opinions about marijuana use, may cloud the issue. Judges in general tend to represent a more conservative demographic, therefore could be so against recreational marijuana use by a parent, he or she could deny that parent custody or significant visitation.

If you are considering divorce in Boulder, it is important to understand all the issues that could affect your divorce – and gaining custody of your children. At Goff & Goff, LLC, our Boulder child custody lawyers can help you throughout the divorce process and protect your parenting rights all along the way. Contact the Boulder divorce attorneys at Goff & Goff, LLC today for a free initial consultation