Get your legal questions answered by a professional
By Jesse Stamm
For this article of the Cannabis Digest, I have chosen to discuss the involvement of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) as it relates to persons who use medical marijuana.
The MCFD is the government agency responsible for child protection laws, and the mission of the MCFD is to intervene when there are reports that children are in need of protection. Many of these reports come from police involvement, but can come from anyone in the community. MCFD involvement can be as simple as a visit to your home and a polite conversation, but can often range all the way to your children being removed from your home and placed in foster care. The level of intervention by MCFD is based on the perception of the level of protection that a child needs. If someone is charged with “possession for the purposes of trafficking” and there are children in the home where the charge is laid, it is almost certain that the MCFD will become immediately involved. Likewise, if someone is charged with driving while under the influence of marijuana and there are children in the vehicle, the MCFD’s involvement will almost certainly be immediate. Therefore, all of the usual cautions about not diverting medical marijuana to recreational users or not driving after consuming medical marijuana are even more important for persons with children.
Growing marijunana, whether for medicinal purposes or otherwise, can also attract the attention of the MCFD. The basic concerns around child safety include increased risk of fires or mold from improperly set up grow-ops, but the risk of grow rips also place children “in need of protection.” If you are the holder of a PPL or a DPL,many of the MCFD’s concerns about these issues can be alleviated by having the grow outside of your primary residence. Of course, having the electrical, plumbing, and ventilations systems constructed according to proper building and fire codes reduce the basic risk, but the risk of a grow rip cannot be reduced other than by having the garden in a separate building.
Using medical marijuana, even if prescribed by a doctor, can be viewed as placing children “in need of protection.” It is important to keep medical marijuana in a secure location where children cannot access it; keeping the location secret from your children also reduces the risk of third parties attempting to access your medication. When medicating, it is advisable to do so where your children are not present, even if you are ingesting your medicine orally instead of through smoke or vaporization. If you treat medical marijuana as if it were as dangerous as a narcotic, and always take equivalent safety precautions, you should be able to minimize the disruption to your family even if the MCFD shows up at your door.
If you do end up with MCFD involvement, regardless of the reason, it is important to be civil and polite with social workers. Their job exists to protect children, and angry or impulsive reactions do not instill social workers with confidence. I also recommend retaining legal counsel as soon as possible if there is an intervention by the MCFD, primarily to ensure that there is a clear record of the MCFD’s concerns and what you have done to address them.