Prior to October 17, 2018 cannabis was an illegal substance and the law was clear that parents should not use illegal substances while caring for their children.

Now that cannabis is legal the courts are having to wrestle with the questions of how much cannabis can a parent consume and still be a responsible parent who can ensure their child’s safety and well-being.

Typical cases arise where one parent alleges that based on their knowledge of the other parent’s use of cannabis during their relationship the user parent becomes sleepy and unfocused and unable to ensure the children are safe. This will be denied by the user parent who claims to be able to tolerate cannabis use while caring for the children.

There really is no easy way to determine the truth unless witnesses come forward and can attest to the veracity of the parent’s claims. If the children are older they will be able to describe what it’s like when one parent uses cannabis but this puts them in the position of having to “tell” on their parent which they are usually hesitant to do.

Should concerned parents be able to require the other parent to provide regular drug tests to ensure there is no use of drugs? What if medical marijuana is prescribed? What if the parent is only using edibles after the children are in bed?

All of these questions will need to be answered but ultimately the court has the jurisdiction and the responsibility to put the best interests and safety of the children before the interests of the parents.

Deborah Todd Family Law Victoria
Deborah A. Todd