In late 2014, an attempt to enact a constitutional amendment in Florida to permit the use of medical marijuana failed. Although the majority of voters voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, the required 60 percent of the voters failed to do so. Consequently, medical marijuana is not currently authorized in the state of Florida.
However, more and more states around the country are legalizing marijuana. Consequently, the usage of marijuana being legal medically in Florida is only a matter of time. However, little discussion has occurred in Florida regarding the impact of medical usage of marijuana in terms of the issues of timesharing (custody/visitation). Consequently, even though the medical usage of marijuana may be legal, it can still affect one’s timesharing (custody/visitation) with his or her children.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of “best interest of children”. It is a fundamental principle that the courts in Florida utilize in making determinations of child timesharing in divorce cases or modification of timesharing actions seeking to change majority timesharing or impose restrictions on current timesharing schedules. Once the medical usage of marijuana is common in the State of Florida, it will become another factor that the court will consider in initially deciding or modifying a timesharing dispute. The court’s main concern always will be for the safety and the wellbeing of the child. The court will evaluate how the majority timesharing parent’s drug use is affecting his or her ability to parent and is impacting the welfare of the child.
If the substance use is incapacitating, impairing parenting, creating an unsafe environment, or contributing to neglect, the court will take action to protect the child, regardless if the use of marijuana is legal medically. In Florida, this is called creating a “nexus” or connection between the issue involved in the case and the wellbeing and safety and best interests of the child. The analysis of finding a nexus or connection between marijuana and the safety and wellbeing of the child is the standard practice in divorce courts when dealing with numerous substances that are legal but often abused (such as alcohol and prescription medications).
Traditionally, the usage of marijuana or other illegal drugs is an issue in custody cases, even in other states (such as Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, and Washington) where medical marijuana usage is legal and has been implemented.
Some common sense behaviors should be utilized by those parents who are legally and medically appropriate in their usage of marijuana. Those basic guidelines include:
- Don’t smoke in front of your child. Not only is refraining from exposing your child to marijuana smoke smart, but it also prevents one’s usage from being used against them in court;
- Keep your marijuana in a safe or in a childproof location. Make sure you are the only person who has access to any medical marijuana in your home; and
- Don’t do anything negligent with marijuana is in your system.
Even by utilizing these common sense proscriptions, you should always consult with an attorney if you are currently involved in a divorce, or have been involved in a divorce and have a timesharing schedule with a minor child if you have received a medical marijuana prescription.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.