Friday, December 1, 2023

California’s New Child Welfare Law Goes Into Force — Here’s What Weed-Using Parents Need To Know

During social worker investigations, a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of cannabis is treated in the same manner as their use or possession of alcohol and prescription drugs.

By Joana Scopel

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill including provisions for social workers who are called to investigate child welfare to treat parental cannabis use in the same manner that they do for alcohol.

However, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), who sponsored the legislation, said in a summary of the bill that “cannabis use alone should not be a basis for state intervention into family life.”

“As is the case with alcohol and prescription medication, parents and guardians should be allowed to safely and legally use cannabis without fear of having their children permanently removed from their care, provided there are no other concerns regarding the child’s safety,” Jones-Sawyer added.

foster care
Photo by Kindel Media via Pexels

What Is The Law All About?

According to the legislation, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) is required to update “all regulations, all-county letters, and other instructions relating to the investigation of a minor” to stipulate that “when a social worker is investigating an alleged case of child abuse or neglect, a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of cannabis is treated in the same manner as a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of alcohol and legally prescribed medication.”

RELATED: Here’s The Cannabis Legislation About To Become Law In California

Meanwhile, California NORML, which has defended the rights of marijuana smokers since 1972, mentioned the enactment of the new law in a tweet.

Last year, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, held that a parent’s recreational cannabis users cannot suffice as the sole or primary reason to terminate that parent’s rights – unless the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) proves case-specific evidence that the marijuana usage endangers the health, safety or welfare of the child.

Cannabis Developments In California

Newsom recently signed two other marijuana bills. One of them amends an existing law that allows registered patients to use MMJ products in hospitals while the other legislation provides protections for medical cannabis patients against discrimination in health care, reported Marijuana Moment.

Among the measures awaiting Newsom’s signature is legislation that would provide job protections for people who use cannabis outside of work. The proposed bill, passing through both houses of the legislature, would prohibit people from losing their jobs for smoking marijuana outside of work. Specifically, it would prohibit companies from punishing those who fail a certain type of drug test.

RELATED: Legalizing Weed Reduces Foster Care Admissions By This Much, Finds New Study

Newsom has until the end of September to decide whether to sign it into law. If signed, the law would take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and California would become the seventh state in the United States to protect employees who smoke marijuana off the clock.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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