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Michigan woman fights medical marijuana custody decision

A woman who lost custody of her daughter two years after being named a medical marijuana caregiver in Michigan says she will fight for her parental rights. She joined a number of families and medical marijuana advocates at a rally outside of a Michigan Department of Human Services building, seeking answers as to why the state decided to revoke child custody from state-licensed caregivers.

The mother says workers with Michigan Child Protective Services removed her six-year-old daughter from her care due to potential safety issues, citing concerns that the family's cannabis could attract violent crime. The workers cited a 2010 case in which a young girl was allegedly killed after a break-in at her home, where her parents kept a store of marijuana. The woman became a licensed medical marijuana caregiver in 2011 in order to help care for her husband, who suffers from severe seizures due to epilepsy.

The woman claims that CPS employees demanded access to her cannabis plants, which were legal for her to own due to her licensed status. She told the workers that allowing them access to the plants would put her at risk for felony charges. She explained that she could be penalized with prison time for distributing cannabis to a party not licensed as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver under Michigan law. The workers reportedly told the woman they would request a court order allowing them access to the home, but later decided to petition for the suspension of the woman's child custody and parental rights.

Around 150 people appeared at the rally outside of the Human Services building. Among the attendants was the founder of Michigan Moms United, who decried CPS officials for repeatedly ignoring the protections guaranteed to parents in Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act.

Representatives with CPS could not comment on the case for privacy reasons, but emphasized that the agency considers all aspects of a child's environment when choosing to remove him or her. They also stated that all substances, including alcohol and legal prescription drugs, can influence a CPS decision.

Source: MLive, "Lansing marijuana caregiver fights to get back daughter Baby Bree after child protective services removal" Jay Scott Smith, Sep. 18, 2013

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