|San Diego Law Firm|
A hard-fought appeals court victory has been won in Irvine, California.
In the case of Drake A., the California Court of Appeal ruled on December 5 that while parents who abuse drugs can lose custody of their children, a parent who uses marijuana for medical reasons, with a doctor's approval, isn't automatically defined as a "drug abuser."
Being hailed as precedent-setting, the ruling from Division Three of the Second Appellate District further clarifies child welfare law as applied in such cases, and represents a "very significant" victory, according to defense attorney Lauren K. Johnson.
|Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson|
|Attorney Lauren K. Johnson: "The ruling illustrates a growing recognition of the legitimate use of medical marijuana in this state and other states"|
"The ruling illustrates a growing recognition of the legitimate use of medical marijuana in this state and other states," Johnson said of Case #B236769 on Tuesday. "We want kids to be safe, but we also want parents to be able to use legally prescribed medications when children appear not to be at demonstrated risk of harm."
In overturning a Los Angeles Superior Court ruling against the plaintiff, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the Appellate Court said the "mere usage of drugs," including marijuana, is not the same as "substance abuse" that can affect child custody, as alleged in this case by the lower court.
The court held that substance abuse must either be diagnosed by a doctor or show up in a person's behavior, such as absences or poor performance at work or at school, driving under the influence, or recurrent social or interpersonal problems.
The Appellate Court emphasized that none of that happened in this case.
The father had testified that he uses medical marijuana for arthritis about four times a week, and does not use it in front of his child, or care for the child while under the influence of marijuana. He has been employed for many years and is capable of supporting his child, the court found.