New Yorkers Caught With Small Amounts of Marijuana Accused of Child Neglect

Hundreds of New Yorkers who have been found with small amounts of marijuana, or who have simply admitted to using the drug, have been accused of child neglect, even though they did not face criminal charges.

In some of these cases, parents have lost custody of their children, according to The New York Times. The city’s child welfare agency said marijuana use by parents often indicates other serious problems in how a parent cares for their child. New York’s approach contrasts with that of California, which demands that child welfare officials show harm to a child from marijuana use before a neglect case can proceed.

Lawyers from legal services groups that defend parents told the newspaper they see hundreds of marijuana cases every year, mostly involving recreational users. They said they are handling more than a dozen cases that involve parents who have not faced neglect allegations, yet whose children have been placed in foster care because of marijuana charges.

City health data show the rate of marijuana use is twice as high among whites as among blacks and Hispanics. However, defense lawyers say child neglect cases involving a parent’s use of marijuana are rarely filed against white parents.

Michael Fagan, a spokesman for the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, told the newspaper, “Drug use itself is not child abuse or neglect, but it can put children in danger of neglect or abuse. We think the argument that use of cocaine, heroin or marijuana by a parent of young children should not be looked into or should simply be ignored is just plain wrong.”

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    August 22, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    This is possible the most ridiculous story I have read on the Internet in quite a while. Charging the parents with child neglect accomplishes nothing except for grief for those being charged. There is no greater goal here, because, simply, there is not a major problem. Just arrogant politicians out to police the world and in the process making themselves look like valiant heroes coming to the rescue of children that were in no danger. Oh, and the grouping of marijuana, cocaine and heroin is quite preposterous, but that’s another issue.

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    August 19, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    I do not beleive that this is an effective use of resources. Taking children away from their parents and putting them in Foster Homes is not a solution for either parent or child. The children are tramatized and the parents do not trust to ask for help!!

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    August 19, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    It’s complex. Parents who are substance dependent (including cannabis dependence) may neglect their children. In fact, that’s part of the definition of dependence:”important…activities are given up or reduced because of substance use”. But not all substance dependent parents do that. An older study by SAMHSA found only a 40% correlation between substance dependence and child welfare problems. And certainly the vast majority of cannabis users don’t meet the criteria for cannabis dependence. The conclusion for me is that the mere fact that a parent smokes marijuana is not a basis for a child welfare investigation and certainly not for removal of the child to foster care. In fact, research suggests that children in foster care have a high risk of abuse by their foster parents. So the decision to remove a child should not be our first response in any case but rather a last resort only when it is absolutely clear that abuse or neglect exist.

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    August 19, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    And what about alcohol or tobacco?? Who r the idiots that r making these laws?? I guess thats what we get for putting people in office to make laws for us.

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