Vale, Oregon isn’t as on board with cannabis as the rest of the state. This conservative town in Malheur County, just a few miles from the pot-hating Idaho border, adamantly opposed legal cannabis with a vote of 68.7 percent against it. This however, didn’t stop one young man from becoming a registered medical grower for other patients, one of which was his girlfriend.
Malheur County Cops Investigate Legal Cannabis Grow…End Up Taking Child
When the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office found out he was growing, he invited cops into his house to ensure them that what he was doing was completely legal. This is when things took a turn for the worse.
Although cops couldn’t charge the man with an illegal cannabis grow, they did deem the house unsanitary. And this, they contended, presented an immediate danger to the man’s girlfriend’s one-year-old daughter.
It wasn’t long before Child Protective Services (CPS) was called and showed up at the house. Along with the 31 pictures they took of the house, they also took the girlfriend’s one-year-old daughter, placing her in foster care for 10 weeks. This is despite that the girlfriend had recently filed temporary guardianship papers that would have allowed one of her family members to care for her child. During the madness of her child getting taken, CPS influenced the girlfriend to sign a release form that would give the state of Oregon access to her mental health records.
The weeks following were a nightmare for both the man and his girlfriend. When they went to court recently however, things began to turn around. There were roughly two dozen people that came to support the young couple, in the face of a prosecution that wanted to see them go down.
Prosecution Tries 3 Separate Arguments Against Young Couple
The prosecution worked with 3 separate arguments, fighting to keep the young child away from her mother. These included:
1. Depicting the Mother as a Drug Addict Unfit to Raise Her Child
There was a problem from the get-go with this prosecuting argument. For one, there was no prior evidence of any drug abuse. While she did have a history of mental illness for which she had been prescribed several pharmaceuticals, she found that none of them worked for more than a couple weeks. She instead began using cannabis, something she found worked much better and didn’t come with unwanted side effects of prescription pills. While Oregon doesn’t recognize the use of weed for mental disorders (aside from PTSD), its legal to smoke for personal use. And the prosecution couldn’t prove that pot was negatively affecting her parenting.
2. Mental Health Records that the Prosecution Used to Describe the Mother as a Woman Haunted with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
The prosecution used the mental health records the women consented to release when her child was taken from the home. Representing herself, the woman explained that she does have some mental health issues. However, she also stated she has strong family support (all her family was present in court), and that she does not suffer from many of the symptoms the prosecution tried to say she did.
3. The Messy House During Harvest
According to the CPS worker who took the child, “There was weed everywhere. The smell of dog urine and garbage! Sharp objects and dangerous chemicals within [the child’s] reach. The toilet lid was open!”
Yes, the house was a mess. The woman, as well as her family members present in court, couldn’t dispute this fact. Her defense however, was that the child was there that day because babysitting with another family member had fallen through. Photos taken of the home both before and after showed a completely different scene. Not filthy. Not full of weed in harvest.
As for the dangerous chemicals, CPS was called out in the courtroom.
“The fertilizer,” the woman’s boyfriend explained, “is actually a pro-biotic compound intended to foster good bacteria in the soil that promotes healthy plants. The solution is actually made from pro-biotic organic honey, fruit juice, and some water.”
The Final Ruling…
Three hours of testimony in court finally led to a break where the judge took 20 minutes to reach a final decision on the case.
“On the point that the mother is suffering from a substance abuse issue, the state has failed to prove its case. On point about the mother’s mental health conditions, the state has failed to prove its case. On the point regarding the condition of the home,” the judge continued, “the state has proved its case. However, the defendant has shown this isn’t always the case of the home. So, CPS, you’re not going to like what I have to say, but you’re going over to that home tomorrow at 2pm, and if that home is in a sanitary and safe condition, you will return that child immediately to her mother.”
The judge’s ruling was something activist Serra Frank said she’s never seen in the hundreds of “CPS vs. marijuana moms” cases she’s witnessed. This, we believe, is a tremendously positive start to one family’s new year.