Smoke a Joint, Lose Your Child

Smoke a Joint, Lose Your Child August 25, 2011

The New York Times had an article about the appalling practice of taking children away from parents if they are found to smoke pot — even if they’re not charged with the drug infraction.

The police found about 10 grams of marijuana, or about a third of an ounce, when they searched Penelope Harris’s apartment in the Bronx last year. The amount was below the legal threshold for even a misdemeanor, and prosecutors declined to charge her. But Ms. Harris, a mother whose son and niece were home when she was briefly in custody, could hardly rest easy.

The police had reported her arrest to the state’s child welfare hot line, and city caseworkers quickly arrived and took the children away.


Her son, then 10, spent more than a week in foster care. Her niece, who was 8 and living with her as a foster child, was placed in another home and not returned by the foster care agency for more than a year. Ms. Harris, 31, had to weather a lengthy child neglect inquiry, though she had no criminal record and had never before been investigated by the child welfare authorities, Ms. Harris and her lawyer said.

“I felt like less of a parent, like I had failed my children,” Ms. Harris said. “It tore me up.”

Hundreds of New Yorkers who have been caught with small amounts of marijuana, or who have simply admitted to using it, have become ensnared in civil child neglect cases in recent years, though they did not face even the least of criminal charges, according to city records and defense lawyers. A small number of parents in these cases have even lost custody of their children.

New York City’s child welfare agency said that it was pursuing these cases for appropriate reasons, and that marijuana use by parents could often hint at other serious problems in the way they cared for their children.

Then you should have to prove that those other serious problems exist, not merely that they might exist. A parent smoking pot is no more an indicator of child neglect than a parent drinking a beer or a glass of wine, yet we don’t assume that everyone who buys alcohol is neglecting their children. It is a ridiculous double standard, as is the criminalization of marijuana entirely.

The war on drugs destroys families, not just in this way but also by removing so many parents from the home to put them in jail for drug possession. It’s time to end it, once and for all.

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  • Fifth Dentist

    I agree, but … has any “war” started by the cancervatives ever really ended? Hell, even Vietnam* came to a close, eventually and after much loss of life, but we’re still stuck with the “wars” on terror, drugs, Christmas, Christianity, Afghanisnam, Iraqnam, Islam, Sharia law, abortion, science, communism, et cetera (feel free to add to this list). And in a new front opened since the Kenyan ni**er usurper established his Muslim dictatorship we now have the new front opened by the Teatards that may be the most damaging of all — their war on sanity.

    * Started by the other conservative party.

  • Abby Normal

    My father was sometimes fond of cocaine. He would get paranoid and abusive, sometimes violently. During one particularly bad incident my younger brother made a run for it. He made it most of the way down the block before our father caught him. Dad dragged him back to the house by his hair, jerking him this way or that so he couldn’t get his feet under him. My brother was screaming up a storm while neighbors watched from their windows. Someone called the police, who showed up about 20 minutes later. They spoke briefly with my parents. But my parents could be very charming when they wanted to and the cops left without speaking to me or my brother.

    A couple days later a woman from Child Services showed up. She walked in and said, “Let’s keep this quick. I have some real cases to investigate.” Five minutes later she was gone, again without ever speaking to me or my brother.

    If only I had known all I needed to do was “accidently” drop a dime bag in front of her.

  • skinner city cyclist

    Fifth Dentist, for the record, it was the Democrats (Kennedy and Johnson) who started Vietnam. Nixon, of course, unnecessarily prolonged it.

    It is disappointing that people (especially cops and politicians) have had a hard time understanding the use of “war” as a metaphor, as in “the moral equivalent of war.” And so we have experienced the wholesale militarization of our police forces.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Meanwhile, it’s not even news any more when kids end up dead or in ICU after years of CPS investigating repeated reports and taking no action in the interest of “keeping families together.”

  • Fifth Dentist

    @ skinner city cyclist

    I said the OTHER conservative party. Sure, Johnson started some social programs and championed civil rights, but when it came to the War on Cold the Dems were every bit as deluded as the other side of the coin.

  • LightningRose

    skinner city cyclist,

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but American military involvement in Vietnam started with Eisenhower.

  • Fifth Dentist


    Eisenhower would be a flaming liberal today — at least as far as the TeaTards are concerned. The Birchers (hey, just noticed that if you change one letter and you get “birthers.” Coincidence?) thought Eisenhower was a commie.

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