Could legal marijuana use affect your New Jersey custody rights?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

If you’re a parent going through a custody battle, could your use of legal marijuana put your child custody rights in danger? It would be very foolish to think otherwise.

State laws are constantly changing, so here’s a quick recap of where recreational marijuana stands. Marijuana has officially been legal in New Jersey for both medicinal use and recreational use among those 21 years of age and older since November 2020 – even if it is taking considerable time for the state to work out the kinks in its distribution plans and laws.

These days, it’s increasingly obvious that the panic that used to surround cannabis was vastly overblown. A lot of people now equate cannabis use with having a glass of wine at dinner.

Why would the use of a legal drug affect your custody rights?

Family court judges always consider the “best interests of the child” when they decide custody. In New Jersey, the court has pretty broad latitude to consider anything that they suspect may affect a child’s safety, a parent’s fitness or the stability of the child’s home environment.

If your ex-spouse is of a mind to make your cannabis use an issue, they may allege that you are a habitual user who gets too high, too often to properly care for your child – and that you may get so “stoned” that the child is sometimes neglected or put in danger.

The “pothead” slacker image is one that’s pretty deeply embedded in the American cultural psyche. You may not want to take a chance that the judge in your case still considers marijuana a “gateway” drug or a waste of resources – even if you take it for a medical condition.

Complex issues like these are increasingly coming up in custody battles as social attitudes toward cannabis continue to change. If you have questions about how anything you do may affect your custody rights, start asking questions as soon as possible.

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