California court holds that Prop. 215 patients aren’t “drug abusers”
The California Court of Appeals has delivered a major win for medical marijuana patients and concerned parents in the Golden State. As Toke of the Town reports, the ruling this month from Division Three of the Second Appellate District has set a precedent which allows parents who use medical marijuana to keep custody of their children despite their medical regimen.
The case of Paul M. reads like a nightmare. When state officials had tried to separate the Southern Californian from his children on the grounds that he uses cannabis to ease the symptoms of his arthritis, the anonymous defendant did what any other parent would do: he fought back. Now, after an expensive and exhausting appeal, Drake has won in court and set a precedent which could echo through government chambers throughout the country.
At the heart of the case was the question of whether Paul M. was a “drug abuser,” a legal distinction for a parent which allows the state to take his children and place them in foster care. The conscientious father testified that he used marijuana about four times a week while holding down a steady job, and that he never medicated in front of his children. Officials in the Los Angeles Superior Court, however, maintained that essentially, all use of marijuana is “drug abuse,” period – a logic which would allow the state to break up the families of anyone who used medical marijuana.
This very same logic has dominated the thinking of law enforcement for decades. Government officials claim that cannabis is “the most widely abused drug in the world” – a claim which only appears true when viewed from a narrow perspective. Cannabis has a lower rate of “problem users” than alcohol or tobacco, both of which dwarf cannabis in terms of volume consumed and total number of users. Yet these two (demonstrably more dangerous) drugs enjoy a double standard: officials simply assume that all cannabis use is in fact abuse, based on the mere fact that it is illegal.
The California Court of Appeals has finally put the lie to such circular logic, pointing out the obvious fact that “mere usage of drugs” is not the same as “substance abuse,” and that in the absence of evidence suggesting that Paul M.’s cannabis usage is in some way negatively affecting his ability to be a good parent, the state has no right to take his kids. Finding no evidence of abuse in Drake’s case, the Court ruled that he may keep his children.
A major victory – but stay tuned. The State may very well appeal to the California Supreme Court.