Marijuana use and child custody in South Carolina

One of my oldest and dearest friends was awarded custody of his two children and kept custody until they emancipated.  Not only was he openly using marijuana during that time, he was also openly growing it and selling it.

He did not live in South Carolina.

Along with exposing children to non-marital sexual relationships, nowhere is the generational and cultural gap between South Carolina parents and the typical family court judge greater than it is with tolerance, even acceptance, of marijuana use.  For those in their 20’s and 30’s–the age of many parents involved in family court custody proceedings–marijuana use is common.  But South Carolina’s family court judges treat it as verboten; indeed any marijuana use creates a presumption of parental unfitness.

Marijuana-using parents in South Carolina custody cases will often argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.  This view is shared by President Barack Obama, whose 1995 memoir, Dreams of My Father, acknowledged not simply marijuana use as a young adult but also cocaine use.  South Carolina family courts do not care.  S.C. Code § 63-7-1660(F)(1)(a), authorizes the removal of a newborn from a mother’s custody if “a blood or urine test of the child at birth or a blood or urine test of the mother at birth shows the presence of any amount of a controlled substance or a metabolite of a controlled substance unless the presence of the substance or the metabolite is the result of medical treatment administered to the mother of the infant or the infant.”  S.C. Code § 63-7-620 allows “a law enforcement officer may take emergency protective custody of a child without the consent of the child’s parents, guardians, or others exercising temporary or permanent control over the child if … alcohol or drug abuse if known or evident at the time of the initial contact.”

As of the date of this blog twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana.  Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  In 1980 South Carolina actually passed a statute, S.C. Code § 44-53-650,  authorizing the director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control to obtain and distribute, without charge, marijuana to “certified patients.”  For two reasons this statute has never been implemented.  First, it requires the director to “obtain marijuana through whatever means he deems most appropriate consistent with federal law” and federal law continues to make marijuana a schedule one substance that cannot be used for medical treatment.  Second, the general assembly has never provided the director funding to obtain marijuana.  The South Carolina legislature is currently considering various bills that would authorize some medical uses of marijuana.

A decade ago South Carolina family court judges would not only uniformly remove custody from parent who was using marijuana, they would not even allow unsupervised visitation.  Anecdotally, their viewpoint appears to have relaxed a little–but not much.  One hears reports of judges not changing custody or allowing visitation to continue unsupervised if the parent was using marijuana in the recent past but can demonstrate that the parent is not currently using.

One also hears that when a parent lives in a state that authorizes medicinal marijuana, and when that parent is using marijuana as prescribed, South Carolina family court judges are not making such usage a factor in custody determinations.  The apparent rationale is that it is marijuana’s illegality, and not its psychotropic effects, that make its use antithetical to custody.  This belies the fact that numerous other crimes do not appear to be considered absolute bars to an award of custody.  Only the crimes that South Carolina family court judges consider both immoral and related to parenting ability–primarily crimes related to sexual activity and substance abuse–appear to create such rigorous scrutiny.

Meanwhile every year South Carolina parents lose custody or find their visitation restricted due to their use of a drug that remains illegal but is commonly accepted within their peer group.  At least in South Carolina, the popular culture has simply changed faster than the legal culture.

Put Mr. Forman’s experience, knowledge, and dedication to your service for any of your South Carolina family law needs.

Retain Mr. Forman
  • California observer

    Glad I don’t live in South Carolina! As a scientists, I keep shaking my head when the Law just plain ignores scientific facts…evolution, homosexuality as normal, marijuana as safe. Is the South anti-science, or what?

  • Raymond ulbrich

    Recently some studies by reputable scientist on alziemers and marijuana shows dialy use of marijauna reduces plaque build up in the brain which is the cause of alziemers . Similarly another study has showed use of mmarijauna after onset of Alzeizemers helps brain function. The us government just approved anothe 1400 pounds of marijauna to be produced for scientific study of PTSD which has also shown to be very promising . There is a movement to get it regulated as a class 2 drug to open doors for further research and use as treatment legally .

  • Amelia Cate

    I live in south Carolina and recently gave birth at 35 weeks. I was a high risk pregnancy due to cancer andchemo along with PTSD anxiety and severe depression. I tested positive for marijuana use but my preemie daughter did not. I have not only had to have a “protector” put in place but I have to live with them and my fiance and I are not allowed to be alone with our baby girls. I find this insane. I’ll take any classbthey want but now they won even let us be in our own home. We’ve lost everything twice from cancer diagnosis and now a 3rd time. I had nothing else in my system and my baby was clean. I’m being treated like a junky and even my social worker thinks this is absolutely asinine. Does anyone know where I can get legal help or if myvfiane and I had any rights at this point.?

    • rose

      What hospital did you go to? Did you try being exempt from testing? I’m curious because I heard of another case from the 1990’s that states if they didn’t have a warrant then their tests violate your rights if you did not consent to such searches for drugs. I would find a lawyer and see if you can fight what they are doing. Email your response to me at iamrosedawson1985@gmail.com so I can learn about what they are doing to the mothers. I am a curious woman who just wants to help stop the torture on women and their babies.

      God bless you and your baby, I know you’ll come out of this soon…

      Rose

    • kel

      what part of SC do you live in?

    • Lashay

      What all did they have u do until u can get custody of your child??

      • I have to take drug and alcohol classes and parenting classes and even when that’s complete they can request more until they are satisfied. They lie to your face and tell you what you want to hear and then they do whatever they want. I had my drug and alcohol classes completed with clean drug screens for 3 months and DSS said if I did that they would start lifting restrictions but when I asked to take my girls to the park I was denied. This system is a joke and if I could afford an attorney I would bring their asses to court. I was using because of CANCER. Instead of taking fentanoyl oxycodone and other narcotics my pain management doctors wanted me on because I didn’t want my baby going through those withdrawals. She didn’t even have THC in her system. Dss even had the hospital involved not letting me see or bring my baby home without even telling me this was going on. I’m still furious

    • Lashay

      Well I just had my baby a week ago N DSS wants to drug test me. I stay in Myrtle Beach as well but I wanted to know what’s will happen if I fail cause I smoked during my pregnancy due to my morning sickness.

      • Did the hospital drug test you? Or baby?

        • rose

          Don’t give them a drug screen or let them come in your house without warrant or court order. I just told them no when they called two times and ignored a letter…after sixty days of being unable to locate you they have to place the case as unfounded….I still have my baby and no court case in family court. Its all based on your consent and if you don’t do anything then they have to try and find enough evidence to prove you are an imminent threat on that very day to the judge. And well you aren’t so they won’t be able to get a warrant. And then you keep your kid…..that’s what to do. Ignore the shit out of them don’t let them in your house!

          • Lashay

            If u dont mind me asking ma rose, what state are u from

    • Lashay

      The hospital tested the baby and not me

      • I’m assuming the baby was positive for THC? Your already going to have an open case. Don’t give them a drug test if you can avoid it. They may try to take your baby. Most likely you’ll have to get a protector and won’t be able to be with your child alone, and if you have other kids them either. I’m surprised they haven’t already tried to take your baby. I was positive and my baby was clean and I couldn’t even take her from the hospital without having a protector to sign for like guardianship.

    • Lashay

      Well he’s in NICU in Florence right now due to he was a premie. I really need your help since u have previously deal with the same issue. Do u think I should come clean about me smoking weed while pregnant due to my morning sickness N they would be more lenant towards the situation?

      • rose

        I ignored DSS since its your right to. Dont even let them come to your house! If they can’t locate you they have to make your case unfounded. If they can’t get enough evidence to say you hurt your kid, they will not be able to get a court order. I ignored them…they couldn’t get a court order because I birthed outside of a hospital naturally. I kept my placenta me conium and all my babies blood and urine….they drug screened me at my doctors office at 36 weeks and reported me so I birthed naturally so they couldn’t prosecute me at the time of birth in a hospital. Natural birth is your God given right. Also please look at cases in the passed and how they went about challenging the hospitals in the federal courts for their wrongdoing against pregnant women. Its all to steal our babies and sell them to the adoption rings. Don’t even let DSS in your house! It’s. My only advice to you. Make them get a court order to even investigate you or see your kid! Its our right to tell them no if they don’t have a court order or a warrant. Do not let them in if they don’t show you a warrant or a court order. They’ll play with your life unless you keep them out. They are supposed to only refer you for services to help you get better. Don’t let them in your house! Unless they got a warrant or a court order to investigate you!

        http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t63c007.php

      • rose

        Tell them you won’t talk to them and don’t admit sh?t. Tell them you refuse the drug screen and you aren’t answering any questions without your lawyer present, even if you don’t have one. Tell them they didn’t have probable cause to drug screen you. You are not in possession of any drugs right now and are not an imminent threat to your child. You have not seen a warrant or a court or for any search or seizure of your urine or blood and you are refusing that test and want it put on record. You are not compliant and they’ll have to court order it, good luck getting them to get a warrant on New Years and tell them to leave your room if you are still in the hospital as you do not have a lawyer present and they are invading your right to privacy. Tell them you will contact them at a later time. Do not consent to drug screen or admit you smoked!

    • Lashay

      How long do the process unusually takes

    • Lashay

      Thanks so much but I didn’t know they were drug testing my baby. Do they have a number to help us fight this?? N yes DSS called me Friday afternoon. Do u have to take a drug test or can I deny it if I choose to?

    • Lashay

      I thank u so much ma’am for your help. I’ll call them tomorrow but it was mandatory for me to have him early due to high risk pregnancy N they said if I waited any longer that my baby would’ve been still born. At this point I really don’t know what to I just need help on this situation cause I’ve never dealt with this before N I don’t feel as though it’s not right if I haven’t physically hurt my son N any way. N I know u may not know me but I’m really seeking any help to help me beat this situation. May u please help me please

  • rose

    I’m not birthing in SC that’s for sure. I found out the drug screens in the office get directly reported to different organizations to try and arrest moms and turn the kids over to cps. This is actually against our fourth amendment rights and should definitely challenged as many cases have been in the past, yet these people continue trying to steal or hijack babies from their rightful moms.

    All women must stand up in SC to fight these illegal searches. Under federal law our fourth amendment right allows us to not have unreasonable searches or seizure. Drug testing pregnant moms is against our federal rights.

  • No they have no compassion, I was using because of cancer and they are dragging me through the dirt and treating me like a junky. You’ll be lucky if they let you be alone at the hospital with the baby. They will treat you like shit. All over weed its insane.

  • If they don’t legally get charges pressed on you thcclasses take anywhere from 8-12 weeks way out in Conway and then its still up to their discretion. They are so slow. Ivvbeen dealing with this since July 24th and I’ve been done my classes for over a month. I’m really sorry your going through this. Have you spoken with anyone at DSS or social worker at hospital yet?

  • rose

    Research Charleston VS. Ferguson case and other cases that have challenged this very criminal activity that hospitals are doing to mothers to steal our babies and sell them to adoption rings. I like to call it legal child snatching. Federally they have violated our rights if they drug screen us in a hospital without our permission. If you didn’t know they were drug screening you or your baby and you didn’t allow it, then they violated your rights and you should penalize them.

  • If the baby is born before 37 weeks its an automatic drug test. I had contacted an attorney, a free consult I found online, and they basically said not to fight it because it’ll just make it worse on me. But I wish I had because my daughter was negative for THC at 35 weeks. I found the attorney by searching online attorney in myrtle beach Sc to fight dss. Unless they charge you and your case is open in a court you have to pay out of pocket. I would contact the case worker through the hospital the baby is at and find out what is pending.

  • I understand I was in the same situation. After my emergency birth I hemmoraged badly and had to go into surgery and had 7 bags of blood transfused. Its was awful. And then this shit with DSS. But they didn’t tell me for 6 days after birth what was going on. Just treated me like shit and mind you I’m 34 and have a 5 yr old as well. This baby I had was my miracle baby. After my cancer they told me I would never have kids again and 6 months later I was pregnant. I’ve never dealt with DSS or known anyone who went through any of this. I will help you in any way I can. I hope you and your baby the best and I’m always here.

    • rose

      Have they court ordered you to do any of the things they are making you do? If not, tell them they’ll need a warrant to continue the bull shit. They can only do things with your consent. They had no probable cause to keep your rights to your child. File a law suit in the federal courts on the hospital that did this to you for invasion of privacy and mal practice. Also discrimination of a disabled person. Go read your constitution and it will cost nothing to file prose.

      ? Then after the judge says that violated your 4th amendment rights and maybe more than that…you can use that to grab your kid back.

      • Jason Sophya Charles

        Rose I just emailed you. I’d really like to talk. Please and thank you

  • Jason Sophya Charles

    Please will someone from here contact me? I’m very interested in some outcomes.

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