|Photo: Niagara Regional Police/Canadian Press|
|New research questions the automatic removal of children living in marijuana grow-ops, finding they may not be exposed to any alarming health risks. In fact, children of marijuana-growing homes are healthier than other kids, according to the research.|
The research from the Motherisk Program at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children indicates the automatic removal of kids from marijuana-growing parents can be worse for the children than allowing them to stay at home, according to Gideon Koren, a University of Toronto professor and the program's director, reports CBC News.
|Graphic: CBC News|
"After examining 75 of the kids over several years, we came to very clear conclusions that a vast majority of these kids are doing well," Koren said. "Well fed, well kept, doing well in school and developing well."
"In fact, the health problems found in this population were actually fewer than those in the general Canadian population," according to a news release from the Hospital for Sick Children.
Children often enjoyed the lifestyle benefits of having high-income parents -- even though that income is made illegally -- and taking them away often "does a lot of damage," Koren said.
"Taking a small child from his or her parents in a well-adapted environment causes fear, anxiety, confusion and sadness -- everything that comes from separation," he said.
When children are found in homes identified as marijuana-growing operations, they are usually removed, separating them from their parents and often placing them into foster care.
The Hospital for Sick Children examined 75 kids between 2006 and 2010 from Ontario's York Region, just north of Toronto.
Since 2006, child-welfare workers have learned more about the effects marijuana grow-ops have on children and have changed how they maintain the children's safety, according to Patrick Lake, executive director of the York Region Children's Aid Society.
"We have developed a more customize and comprehensive process to determine best response, on a case-by-case basis, while looking for ways to safely maintain children with their parents or relatives," Lake said.
This was the first study done on the topic, and the findings mean authorities will now see these children differently, according to Koren.
"When police and children's aid go into that situation, they have to look much more carefully on what happened to that child, and now blanket-wise moving kids out of their homes," he said.