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Mom's or Dad's pot use may derail shared parenting plans

If you are a Colorado parent in the throes of a contested custody battle and divorce, you don't want to do anything that could jeopardize your rights to shared parenting time with your child.

But you also might be wondering how your legal use of marijuana (under Colorado state laws) could affect the outcome of your custody case. Could you be denied custody or even visitation because you smoke pot?

It's still illegal under federal law

While the Obama administration appeared willing to allow states to self-determine the legalities of their marijuana laws, under federal law, marijuana use, possession and sales remain prohibited.

The current administration does not seem to be nearly as marijuana-friendly as the former, however. While campaigning last year, President Trump stated in a TV interview with Colorado's KUSA-TV that he wouldn't use federal laws to clamp down on recreational marijuana usage, saying "I wouldn't do that . . . I think it should be up to the states, absolutely."

But since then, he appears to be vacillating on the matter. Certainly his nomination of Jeff Sessions — a man vociferously opposed to the legalization of pot — as Attorney General does not bode well for those who like to indulge.

A hard-line stance emerges

According to some media reports, Sessions hopes to roll back the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibiting federal funding for the enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws in states where the majority of citizens voted to legalize use of the plant. What's particularly worrisome is that, in a letter to bicameral legislative leaders, Sessions attempted to link marijuana use with the epidemic of opioid abuse in the United States.

Whether Sessions will get a chance to enforce a crackdown on state marijuana laws remains to be seen. But these rumblings from the Trump administration should give pause to those who partake.

A pot bust could tank a custody case

An arrest on federal charges of possession of marijuana will almost certainly have a deleterious effect on Colorado parents' quests for equal parenting time with their children.

The courts look to what is best for the kids when deciding custody matters, and a case could easily be made that a parent facing federal charges is not the better guardian of minor children. Parents don't even have to get arrested for their marijuana use to become the focus in divorces involving parenting time, however.

If the child's other parent alleges that the pot-smoking mom or dad is impaired by marijuana in the presence of the child — or even that pot is kept or smoked in the home — it could be enough to tip the judicial scales in the other parent's favor.

The bottom line is that parents going through divorces involving contested custody are at risk of having their parenting time curtailed if the other parent chooses to make their pot usage an issue. If you find yourself in that position, ask your Colorado family law attorney what the best strategy is for you to employ.

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