An 8-month-old Michigan baby girl has been returned to her home six weeks after being seized from her parents' custody by the state's Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). The agency removed Brielle Green, referred to as Baby Bree in media reports, claiming her parents marijuana use posed a serious danger to the child. Both of Baby Bree's parents are medical marijuana users.
In 2008, Michigan passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, allowing licensed caregivers to grow a small amount of the drug in their homes. The law states that "A person shall not be denied custody or visitation of a minor for acting in accordance with this act, unless the person's behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the minor that can be clearly articulated and substantiated."
Both of the child's parents are licensed medical marijuana users. Maria Green used the drug to help alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis and Steven Green uses it for his epilepsy. Maria is also a licensed caregiver.
The Green's problems began in September 2011 when police were investigating a home invasion that occurred in the family's neighborhood. A police officer smelt marijuana coming from their home and obtained a warrant. When police raided the home, the found 29 marijuana plants and arrested the couple on felony drug manufacturing charges. At the time of the raid, Maria was legally growing the plants Steven and several cancer patients. She was only a caregiver at this time and was not using the drug for her own symptoms.
Shortly after the raid, Maria's ex-husband filed for custody for their young son, claiming the Greens' house was unsafe because of their drug use. As the custody battle waged, Child Protective Services got involved and petitioned to remove Baby Bree from her home. On September 13, she was placed with her maternal grandmother and the couple was only allowed to see her during scheduled visitation.
On October 3rd, prosecutors dropped all charges stemming from the drug raid. After the charges were dropped, the parents worked out an agreement with the DHS which was approved by the charge overseeing the custody case of Baby Bree.
The Greens will attend a thirty day parenting class, as well as submit Bree to regular drug trusting. Both parents vehemently deny ever smoking around their children. Maria will also continue to be a caregiver.
Illinois' new medical marijuana law didn't go into effect until January 1, 2014. But as this Michigan case demonstrates, all kinds of devastating legal problems can arise when the law isn't applied correctly. The Greens weren't breaking the law and never should have had charges filed against them - charges that caused them to lose custody of their child. If you are involved in a difficult custody dispute, contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney today.