Court of Appeal:
Justices Uphold Order at Dependency Hearing for Weekly Testing for Cannabis Use
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday affirmed an order that the father of three young children—temporarily removed from the custody of their parents, who engage in domestic violence—be prohibited from the use of marijuana to alleviate pain, and be relegated to taking pain medications.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles S. Crandall, serving on assignment to Div. One, wrote the unpublished opinion. It affirms orders by Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Stephen C. Marpet, except for his finding that marijuana use by the father, designated as “Jermaine T.,” contributed to the domestic violence which necessitated removing the children from the household.
The opinion, while concluding that the “evidence does not show that the children were at risk of imminent physical or emotional harm caused by father’s use of marijuana,” nonetheless upholds Marpet’s order that the father submit to weekly testing for traces of alcohol or marijuana in his system, The order requires that the results show zero use of either substance, and warns that if the results show to the contrary, completion of a substance abuse treatment program will be required.
(Substantial evidence does reflect a nexus between the father’s use of alcohol and his acts of violence, the appeals court observed.)
Jermaine T. testified that he does smoke marijuana regularly, but does so in the garage and keeps the substance away from the children. He uses it, he said, to alleviate pain from a 2013 gunshot wound, prefers using it to opioid pain medications, and formerly had a prescription for marijuana but did not have it renewed once marijuana became lawfully obtainable without a prescription.
At the hearing before Marpet, the father’s lawyer queried whether marijuana could permissibly be used by his client if he were to obtain a new prescription. Marpet responded:
“He needs to have no marijuana ultimately and no alcohol.”
The commissioner advised that the father, instead, obtain a prescription for a pain medicine.
Visiting Jurist’s Opinion
“The juvenile court has wide latitude in making orders necessary for the well-being of a minor. By statute, the court may make ‘all reasonable orders for the care, supervision, custody, conduct, maintenance, and support of the child....’…The court has broad discretion to address known issues harmful to the well-being of the child even where such issues are not the direct cause of the child’s detention….
“Father does not dispute that he engaged in a serious act of domestic violence while under the influence of alcohol with very young children in the home. Indeed, his five-year-old son had to pull him off mother during an assault in the middle of the night. Father admits he uses marijuana regularly, which was confirmed by a neighbor who linked its use to domestic violence: ‘[M]other and father smoke so much weed and scream at each other daily.’ Under our deferential standard of review, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in requiring father to refrain from and test for marijuana.”
The case is In re J.T., B309535.
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