The use of Medical Marijuana for children is an issue that is only starting to make its way to the Court system. I speak with many parents who’s children have a variety of medical conditions for which traditional medications offer little relief.
Diagnosis for seizure disorders like epilepsy, ADHD and cancer can be awful for any family. Many parents seek the best advice of doctors to treat their children’s medical needs through regular prescription medication. However it is becoming more common for parents to seek alternative treatment methods and avoid the typical medicines that have been given to children for years.
The accepted medications that treat epilepsy conditions in children can have horrible side effects. Parents often are treating not only the original condition but also the new issues that arise in their children from taking strong prescription medication. Every year there are more studies and anecdotal evidence that medical Marijuana can relieve the symptoms that children suffer from epilepsy, ADHD and chemo-therapy.
CHILD ENDANGERMENT AND CHILD ABUSE INVOLVING MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Treating ADHD or any condition with Marijuana raises many legal concerns for parents. Is it against the law? Can I be charged with a crime? And perhaps most concerning is the issue of child protective services becoming involved. There are many licensed physicians in San Diego who will give parents a prescription for their child to be treated with medicinal marijuana. The use of marijuana in children is ultimately a question for the doctor and the family to decide on.
One concern that has come up with some parents is how the child is given access to the marijuana. For a condition like ADHD or epilepsy, a physician may suggest the child take doses while at school. Allowing a minor to bring a controlled substance onto any school grounds always requires special permission. Although medical Marijuana is permissible in California and many other states; its legality relating to minors is largely unexplored. A child who has marijuana with him at school could very likely be expelled or suspended from school.
A parent who gives Marijuana for his child to use, even when prescribed by a physician, is a murky legal area. One potential hazard is the child giving some of the marijuana to a friend. Once the Marijuana is in the hands of someone who doesn’t have prescription the issue of legal use becomes a problem. A parent who has a medical marijuana prescription can use the marijuana as needed. Similarly a child who is prescribed Marijuana can likely use the Marijuana if under the supervision of a doctor. However if the Marijuana gets out of the hands of the child and to a friend who has never been seen by a doctor then a law may have been broken.
Imagine a parent who gives his daughter medical marijuana to be taken at school in the form of an edible such as a cookie. If the child gives his cooking filled with Marijuana to a friend who eats it, the parent could be charged with several crimes. Health and Safety Code 11361 (HS 11361) makes it a crime to give or sell a minor Marijuana. The offense is a Felony with the maximum sentence being five years in State prison. Although the parent never intended for anyone other than their child to have the drug the potential consequence is very serious.
The issue of children being treated with Medical Marijuana may go from medical to legal. Once a drug like marijuana is out of the control of a parent it could create serious harm to a child who never intended to take the drug.
As a criminal defense lawyer I deal often with the situation that occurred outside of what was planned. No responsible parent want’s their child medication to get into the wrong hands. However the risk associated with treating children with Marijuana raises exactly this risk.
Can I be Charged with Child Endangerment or Child Cruelty?
The California law covering child endangerment is CA Penal Code 273. This law describes the consequences for anyone convicted of inflicting physical or emotional harm to a child. This child abuse law is also charged in situations where someone placed a child in a situation that is considered dangerous or potentially harmful to a minor. While having a prescription for your child to obtain medical marijuana may not be a criminal offense there are other considerations.
The law makes it a crime to put a child in a situation where a child could suffer physical or mental suffering. Actual physical harm may not occur however the crime of felony child cruelty or endangerment can still exist.
As we have already described the concern is for a child who has medical Marijuana accessible to him and then shares it with a young friend. Your child’s friend who takes the Marijuana in any form can have an adverse reaction. If that child gained access to Marijuana through your child then you may be legally liable.
A parent may find themselves in trouble with school authorities and law enforcement. Child protective services can begin an investigation into the parent for possible abuse of their child even if there is a valid medical prescription.
It is crucial to seek advice of a marijuana lawyer who has dealt with the criminal problems which often arise. A San Diego criminal lawyer deals with child welfare services who hold significant power to bring charges of abuse. The potential for finding of child abuse and being registered on the CACI (Child Abuse Central Index) should give any parent pause before giving their child medical marijuana.