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Can NY’s Legal Marijuana Use Impact Child Custody?

by | Oct 5, 2021 | Child Custody and Support NY

Recreational marijuana is taking the country by storm, and early in 2021, New York state lawmakers approved a bill that legalizes marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The new law is expected to usher in a new potentially $4.2 billion industry of legal marijuana dispensaries and consumptions sites.

Now that high quality cannabis will soon be available from legal dispensaries and consumers can enjoy marijuana any time they choose, it leaves many people wondering just how to treat cannabis intoxication in certain situations.

Child custody is just one such scenario where it’s critical to be clear and set boundaries regarding marijuana use, especially when children are in the custody of a parent who uses cannabis on a regular basis.

Here’s what you should know about how legal marijuana use can impact your Long Island child custody case and how you can get the legal representation you need to protect the best interests of yourself and your family during your divorce.

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The Recent Legalization of Recreational Cannabis on Long Island

On March 31, 2021, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing the sale, possession, and consumption of recreational cannabis. It was the 15th state in the U.S. to do so, and residents can possess up to three full ounces of dried marijuana flower or 24 grams of cannabis concentrate. Smoking or vaping marijuana in certain public places is not allowed, as is driving under the influence of cannabis.

Currently, the state is in an in-between phase, where consuming marijuana is legal, but there are no dispensaries where recreational users can purchase their cannabis. Public sales are expected to start sometime in the second half of 2022. Medical marijuana is still available at dispensaries with a qualifying prescription from a medical professional.

How Different are Marijuana and Alcohol Intoxication?

In terms of how intoxicating each substance is, alcohol and marijuana may be very different “highs”, but that doesn’t mean a parent using either substance in excess is not a potential danger in caring for their child. However, it’s important to consider cannabis usage in relation to childcare when going through a child custody case.

Can a parent who uses marijuana safely care for a child while high or medicated? There’s no clear answer, particularly since recreational cannabis is so new in New York.

How Substance Abuse Can Affect Child Custody on Long Island

Before a parent is awarded child custody or visitation, it’s important to determine if they have a substance abuse issue. Cannabis, like alcohol, can be enjoyed in moderation and when used appropriately, generally doesn’t pose any danger to children.

However, parents with substance abuse issues — regardless of the substance — can put their children at risk. For example, using too much marijuana can make someone too sleepy to safely watch a child. Or, getting behind the wheel of a car after smoking or vaping or otherwise consuming marijuana can be as dangerous as drunk driving. If a parent is caught abusing cannabis or driving while intoxicated by any substance with a child in the car, this could radically impact their ability to obtain child custody and/or visitation rights.

How an Experienced New York Divorce Attorney Can Help

No matter which side of the issue you’re on, an experienced Long Island divorce and child custody lawyer can help you. If you suspect your spouse has a recreational cannabis abuse problem that may impact the safety and wellbeing of your child while in their care, your attorney can help you petition the court for supervised visitation.

Or, if you’re the spouse accused of being dependent on cannabis, a lawyer can assist you in proving that you use medical marijuana as prescribed or do not use cannabis when your child is in your care. Either way, a family law attorney will inform you of your rights and advocate for the best possible resolution of your case.

Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, PC Today for an Appointment

At Hornberger Verbitsky, PC, we have the expertise and skills needed to provide you with zealous legal representation during your child custody, divorce, alimony, or other family law case. Contact us today to learn more about how to navigate difficult family legal matters or to schedule your initial consultation to discuss your case by calling 631-923-1910 or filling out the short form on this page. Our team is available now to provide you with comprehensive assistance.

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