Published Sept 25, 2019 by Rebecca Wade

Different states have different laws when it comes to marijuana use. But what does that mean for families living in Northern Virginia who frequently cross state lines? Family law attorney Rebecca Wade explains how marijuana laws differ across the DMV and how they impact child custody cases in Virginia.

How Do Marijuana Laws Differ Across the DMV?

We are at a turning point for laws related to marijuana in our country right now,” says Wade. “More and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.”

When you consider a tri-state area like Northern Virginia, it’s not uncommon for families living in that region to regularly cross over into the neighboring states of Maryland and Washington, D.C. For that reason, Wade says it’s important to be aware of each state’s marijuana laws. “In D.C., recreational marijuana use is legal. Whereas in Maryland, recreational marijuana use is decriminalized and some medical marijuana use is allowed. Then you have Virginia where all marijuana use is illegal.”

“There is no real case law out there about the legal use of marijuana and its effect on child custody in Virginia,” says Wade. However, judges can consider the varied statutes and case laws that have been developed by other states — like Colorado, for example.

What Are Key Factors Judges Consider Regarding Marijuana Use in Child Custody Cases?

When you are dealing with a child custody case involving either illegal marijuana use in Virginia or legal marijuana use in another state, it is important to know your judge. Wade says, “In my experience, whether the use is legal or illegal doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on most judges. They’re more concerned with the use of marijuana as it relates to one’s ability to parent.”

Wade says judges typically consider these key factors regarding marijuana use and child custody cases:

  1. Is the parent using marijuana?
  2. Is the parent using marijuana in the presence of the child?
  3. Does the child have access to where the parent stores the marijuana?

When to Contact an Attorney

If you are dealing with a child custody matter involving the use of marijuana, it’s essential to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of your specific case.

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