Dear Mr. President,   As a privately retained attorney who represents parents in child welfare cases in California, I am shocked at the growing number of wrong decisions made by social workers to remove children from homes on the basis of marijuana use and/or marijuana growing. This petition is prompted by your recent directives on the issue of medical marijuana, established California statutes and case law.  In California, marijuana use by a parent cannot lead to removal of a child any more than wine consumption would lead to removal.  Yet these wrongful removals continue to occur; the case of Savannah Lackey was so compelling that I provided my services pro-bono to her.  After over 85 days of involuntary separation based only on allegations she was unfit based on her legal use of marijuana and legal grow of marijuana, I obtained a dismissal of the entire petition, pre-jurisdiction.  There were many egregious errors in Savannah’s case, but the most egregious was the social worker’s rational for removal, that marijuana is inherently dangerous to any child.  This is untrue, contrary to law and a significant violation of civil rights which the recent case of In re Drake M. underscores: “It is undisputed that a parent's use of marijuana, hard drugs, or alcohol 'without more,' does not bring a minor within the jurisdiction of the dependency court.” See In re Drake M.(Dec 5, 2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 754)]. Yet despite the clear prohibition against it, children ARE removed and ARE placed in foster homes on allegations that a parent's legal grow or use of medical marijuana places a child at substantial risk of serious physical harm. Many parents' attorneys are overworked and underpaid, and merely "process" cases instead of advocating for their client. If a parent cannot afford or cannot find and retain private counsel, their children are all too often placed on the conveyor belt to adoption.  It is ludicrous that the law does not recognize the loss of a child as a loss of ‘liberty’ as incarceration is recognized.  Parents should equal if not greater ability to protect from wrongful State action that leads to even the threat of loss of their child.  Currently, a social worker is safe knowing any decision made to remove a child is usually protected by at least qualified immunity.  This must change.    The quickest way to effect change is to make it expensive for a social worker to make errors in removing children for any reason, but specifically, for removing children due to legal use of marijuana.  California parents need you to remove all immunity from the Agency when removal is wrongful as a result of a parent’s marijuana grow and/or use.  Please let me know how I can help, as you can see, I have an army of competent citizens ready and able to assist.      See the story: 


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