The Appeal: Parents Threatened With Losing Children Over Cannabis Use

“Ms. D, a mother of two living in the Bronx, smoked cannabis occasionally. She never smoked in front of her children, and her casual use never affected her ability to parent. So when a child protective investigator asked her if she smoked, Ms. D was forthcoming. After all, her children were healthy, happy, and well cared for, and cannabis use was decriminalized in New York and legal in many other states.

To Ms. D’s surprise, she was brought into court and charged with child neglect in part on the basis of her cannabis use. The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) agreed that Ms. D’s children could remain in her care only if she entered into a daily drug treatment program. Even though she did not have a substance use disorder and there was no evidence whatsoever that her children were at risk in her care, Ms. D was struck with fear and couldn’t bear the thought of her children being taken from her. So she agreed. But to comply with the schedule, she was forced to give up her two part-time jobs, threatening her family’s housing stability. Meanwhile, the legal case against her for child neglect dragged on for months before ultimately being dismissed.

Unfortunately, Ms. D’s story is not unusual for Black families.”

Read our Miriam Mack and Elizabeth Tuttle Newman‘s full op-ed here