Huffpost Politics

Smoke A Joint, Lose Your Kids

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BREE GREEN
Green Family

You'd think that in the age of medical pot, legal pot in Colorado and Washington, and a majority of Americans in favor of legalizing the drug, we'd at least have ended the 1980s practice of snatching kids from pot-smoking parents. You'd be wrong.

The recent case of Baby Bree underscores that parents can lose custody of their children even if they legally grow and consume marijuana in their home.

A referee recently ruled that Maria and Gordon Steven Green were subjecting their six-month-old baby to possible danger because of grass.

“They were worried about the possibility of break-ins, armed robbery that kind of thing,” mother Green explains. “He (the referee) put that out as a possibility and that warranted immediate danger for the child.”

The Greens and their attorney contend they had a legal right to have the drug since she is a licensed caregiver and father Green has epilepsy, but Child Protective Service workers, charged with protecting children from abuse, saw it differently and petitioned for the right to remove the baby from the home.

In round one, the state won.

Gordon Steven Green uses the drug to treat his epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. This is certainly not the only incident.. In fact, it's not even the only recent incident in Michigan.

A California couple claims in a recent lawsuit that they lost their son for a year because the father took medically-prescribed pot for migraines he suffers after being exposed to chemicals during the Gulf War. California couple Daisy Bram and Jayme Walsh also lost custody of their kids.

An Idaho couple who advocate for marijuana legalization had their kids taken away in April. The New York Times reported in 2011 that hundreds of parents in New York state have faced child neglect charges and risked losing custody just for admitting to smoking pot, or possessing an amount too small to merit criminal charges.

The idea that foster care is preferable to otherwise loving parents who happened to grow or occasionally smoke pot is absurd, especially given the state of foster care in some places. More absurd, in a number of these cases the police found the pot after staging dangerous, highly volatile SWAT raids on the families. So the cops bust in with guns, often at night, screaming, generally scaring the hell out of everyone, and -- every once in a while -- accidentally killing someone. The same government that sent in the SWAT team then takes the kids, or charges the parents with neglect, because "marijuana puts children at risk."

I guess on some level, they're proven themselves correct.

HuffPost writer and investigative reporter Radley Balko is also the author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces.

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Filed by Radley Balko