Illinois first allowed marijuana for medical reasons through legislation enacted in 2013 and followed up this effort by legalizing marijuana for recreational use in May 2019. Though the most recent statute doesn’t become effective until January 2020, Crain’s Chicago Business has already predicted that revenue from recreational-use marijuana is expected to top $1.6 billion in the state.

Another issue regarding legal marijuana may come as a shock to anyone going through child custody proceedings in Illinois. Your usage could affect your rights as a parent, so it’s important to discuss them with a Chicago child custody attorney as soon as possible. You may also benefit from reviewing some basics about how the laws work.

Basis for Determinations on Child Custody and Visitation

The relevant Illinois statute uses the terms “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” to refer to the traditional notions of custody and visitation. Still, the underlying legal concepts are very similar. The paramount concern a court considers when making determinations in these areas is the child’s best interests. There are 16 factors listed in the statute, plus one catch-all, which allows a judge to review any other relevant issues.

Marijuana Use and the Child’s Best Interests

As they pertain to usage of marijuana in a child custody case, a parent could argue against allowing custody or parenting time based upon a few key factors in the statute. A party may try to convince a judge that the other’s usage of marijuana – however legal it may be – would affect:

  • The child’s physical and mental health
  • The child’s needs;
  • The willingness of the parent to place the child’s needs ahead of his or her own; and,
  • Various other factors depending on the specifics of the case.

Plus, when looking at the catch-all provision, there may be many arguments against allowing a marijuana-using parent to have custody or parenting time. As for parenting time,  there may also be arguments to place restrictions on a parent. For example, a parent’s time may be supervised or a parent’s use of marijuana may be prohibited prior to and during parenting time.  For instance, a party could argue that:

  • Proper child-care is not possible when the parent is getting under the influence of marijuana;
  • The effects of marijuana would endanger the child’s life in the event of an emergency;
  • The parent who uses marijuana cannot be responsible for transporting the child; and,
  • Many other claims, which could result in a denial of custody.

Pitfalls of Marijuana-Related Offenses

In addition, it’s important to remember certain conduct related to marijuana is still illegal. Possession of excessive amounts could lead to felony charges, while trafficking marijuana is a crime in any amount. If a parent’s usage of marijuana is criminal in nature, the court would certainly consider this when determining allocation of parental rights.

Discuss Legalized Marijuana with a Skilled Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

Regardless of which side you’re on with the issue of legal marijuana, your rights as a parent are at stake if usage is affecting allocation of parental rights. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Michael C. Craven today. You can set up a confidential consultation at our Chicago office by calling (312) 621-5234 or visiting our firm online.