Rosie O'Donnell is in the news again, and this time, it's not because she's made outrageous comments or been mentioned by Donald Trump on national TV again. No, this time the situation is much more serious and a lot sadder. Sources close to Rosie have confirmed that the star may be in danger of losing custody of her children over marijuana use.
What's at Issue?
Currently, Rosie and her wife, Michelle Rounds, are in the middle of a very ugly divorce and custody battle over their adopted daughter, a 2-year-old named Dakota. In court documents, Rounds accuses Rosie of not being fit to be a parent. Specifically, she cites drinking and drug use as barriers to Rosie's ability to be an effective mother.
To disprove Rounds' accusations, Rosie submitted to a hair follicle drug test. Results of the test came back earlier this summer and showed that Rosie had used marijuana. Now, there is speculation that the results could sway the judge in Rounds' favor and result in Rosie losing custody of her daughter.
A Sign of a Larger Problem
Rosie's situation is a tragic one, but stories like this are far from uncommon. In many parts of the United States where marijuana is not yet legal for recreational or medicinal use, there is still a very negative stigma attached to the use of cannabis. Parents who use marijuana for medical purposes in these places can be at risk for losing their children.
One Mother's Struggle
Shona Banda, a resident of Kansas, is an example of one person who had to fight to keep custody of her kids due to marijuana. Banda controls the symptoms of Crohn's disease with medicinal cannabis even though it is not legal in Kansas to do so. Her son innocently mentioned this at school, and Child Protective Services proceeded to remove him from the home. She was also charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with the incident. Banda won't have the chance to fight for her son or to enter a plea until her first court appearance on November 16.
Even in places where medical marijuana is legal, parents who use cannabis as medicine can be investigated for drug use and be in danger of losing their kids. In the cases of divorce, one parent will often try to use the other's legal drug use as a reason to deny custody. Many state medicinal marijuana laws do not provide protections against these kinds of actions.
While attitudes regarding medical cannabis and legal recreational weed continue to shift, it's clear that there is a long way to go until those who use the drug legally can do so without fear of their parenting abilities being called into question.