NORML Foundation Family Custody Project Victorious In New Jersey Parenting Rights Case

A New Jersey mother successfully challenged state authorities who sought to deny her custody of her newborn son because she tested positive for minimal levels of marijuana metabolites. The Family Custody Project, a project of The NORML Foundation established to give legal and scientific support to parents threatened with losing custody of their children because of positive marijuana tests, assisted the case by providing legal counsel and expert witnesses.

“More and more state authorities nationwide are moving forward to place young children in foster care when they suspect a parent smokes marijuana,” NORML Foundation Litigation Director Tanya Kangas, Esq. said. “The theory they are advancing is that marijuana smoking per se, without any allegations of abuse or neglect, is grounds to remove the child from the parents.”

The most recent case involved mother Deneen Clark, who tested positive for under 10 nanograms of marijuana metabolites 24 hours after giving birth. State authorities accused Clark of “child abuse” based on the positive result and began legal proceedings to place her son in foster care. Clark challenged the allegations with pro bono legal help provided by NORML Legal Committee member William Buckman of Moorestown, New Jersey, and drug testing and child welfare experts. Faced with a losing case, the state eventually dropped all charges.

“The NORML Foundation’s contacts and support helped this family stay together,” Clark said.

For more information, please contact either Tanya Kangas of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or NORML Legal Committee member William Buckman @ (609) 608-9797.