A father who used medical marijuana is not a risk to his 14-month-old son and thus is not required to undergo random drug tests, attend parenting classes or enroll in drug counseling, a California appeals court has ruled.
The Southern California father, identified only as Paul M., had a job as a cement mason, which required him to spend three hours a day on his arthritic knees. Pain pills from his doctor didn’t work. He found a four to five-times weekly dose of marijuana did provide pain relief, according to the court.
He stopped use of the marijuana four hours before he was due to pick up his toddler son, Drake, from daycare. But the Department of Child and Family Services, DCFS, said Drake’s living conditions were unsafe.
Los Angeles Juvenile Court Referee Stephen Marpet required Paul to seek the substance abuse testing, treatment and parenting classes. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed last week.
Justice H. Walter Croskey overturned part of the order. He found the trial evidence on the DCFS claims insufficient. Croskey rejected the DCFS argument that Drake was ill or otherwise physically endangered, or that Paul’s marijuana use placed the child at risk of either.
“There was no evidence showing that the father was still under the influence of marijuana when he picked up Drake from day care and cared from him alone,” Croskey wrote. “Nor was there evidence showing that a person remains under the influence of marijuana four hours after smoking it from which it could be inferred that father was still under the influence.”
DCFS opened the case when Drake was nine months old. Drake became a dependent of the court, giving the court power to make decisions about the child’s welfare, including any home placement.
Drake’s mother, who has an extensive substance abuse and mental health history, was neither the subject of this appeal, nor a factor it in, according to the opinion.
Though Paul failed to show up for some drug tests, made privacy protests against others, and tested positive for those he did take, Croskey said there was no evidence that Paul abused drugs. DCFS failed to prove maladaptive behavior on Paul’s part, leading to any harm or threat of harm to Drake. In fact, Croskey said the evidence showed that Paul care for Drake well.
Croskey reversed the portion of the trial court order that left the case open, agreeing with Marpet’s decision to place Drake with Paul, and ordering Drake’s mother to move out of the family home.
Croskey was joined by Justices John D. Klein and Patti S. Kitching.
Case: In re Drake M., No. B236769