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Texas parents face conviction, custody issues over marijuana use

You can't look at the news these days and be unaware of the fact that the legal landscape regarding marijuana usage is constantly changing.

Except in Texas -- where the laws have remained steadfast and rigid when it comes to marijuana use for any reason.

A Texas mother and father found out the hard way that Texas still has an unenlightened attitude toward marijuana use when the mother went to the hospital for a seizure. Unable to afford the medication she needed to treat her seizures, she'd been self-medicating for years with marijuana.

At the hospital, a nurse inquired whether the mother was breastfeeding her infant, the youngest of her five children. When the mother answered in the affirmative, she was promptly reported for child endangerment.

What essentially happened is that the family -- which included a devout mother who taught Bible school and a father who worked long hours to provide for his family -- ran afoul of mandatory reporting requirements that obligate certain people to report any suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.

The nurse's question was carefully crafted to illicit information that could be used to convict the mother of the endangerment of a child, since the marijuana can pass through breast milk to the nursing infant. The mother's honest answer sent the entire family into a tailspin once the authorities got involved. The parents lost custody of their five children until they completed mandatory classes on drug abuse, counseling sessions, parenting classes and even budgeting classes to satisfy Children's Protective Services.

Even when they regained custody, their nightmare wasn't over. They were each arrested for endangering the welfare of their children -- five counts apiece -- even though only the youngest tested positive for marijuana. They've both since lost their jobs and are unable to find work because of the felony charges.

The mother's case is resolved now that the judge helped work out a plea bargain that would keep her out of jail. She'll only serve 120 hours of community service and five years of probation. She could have served anywhere from 2 to 20 years in prison for each of the five counts. The father's trial is still pending.

Situations like this should serve to remind anyone in Texas that they could face serious consequences over marijuana use. If you're facing drug charges, seek an attorney's advice immediately.

Source: Dallas Observer, "One North Texas Mother Convicted of Five Felonies for Breastfeeding One Child on Pot," Christian McPhate, June 28, 2017

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