California Lawsuit: Children Were Taken By State, Detained For A Year Over Medical Marijuana Prescription

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Last week, the story of Alexandria Hill made headlines around the country. Hill was murdered by her foster mom, whose custody she was only placed in because her parents smoked marijuana. The foster mother, Sherill Small, has been charged with murder.

Today, RT reported on a similar story involving marijuana and child custody in California.

Michael Lewis and wife Lauren Taylor have two children, ages four and two. Lewis is a medical marijuana patient in the state. His physician prescribes him cannabis to deal with the debilitating headaches he has suffered since being exposed to toxic chemicals in the gulf War.

In 2011 San Diego police received a bizarre report. Someone called the department and told them that the Lewis house was running a daycare. At their daycare, the report said, children were being exposed to marijuana. In August of 2011, police visited the Lewis home. They found no evidence of a daycare center at the house, but they did find Lewis’ prescribed marijuana.

Two days later, agents from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed up at the Lewis’ door. The agents took their children. It took the family an entire year to regain custody of their children, and now they’re suing the San Diego County police department. The children were taken under the reasoning of “general neglect” but the Lewis’ lawsuit claims there were no grounds for such a claim.

Here is an excerpt from the lawsuit:

"Nonetheless, even though they knew Michael Lewis' use of medical marijuana was completely legal in that he had obtained a medical marijuana recommendation after an evaluation from a licensed medical doctor, and that Lewis only used the marijuana outside the presence of the children and only for amelioration of pain, these defendants seized and detained the children. They failed to conduct any independent investigation prior to seizing the children. Michael and Lauren were shocked, stunned, amazed and terrified.”

Throughout the legal battle, agents from the HHS repeatedly testified against the Lewis family. One of the agents, Ian Baxter, “misled the court by stating that he did not need to conduct any pre-placement preventive services because of the 'emergent nature' of the situation and asserted that Michael and Lauren left their children 'inadequately attended and inadequately supervised' around the marijuana. This statement was totally false, and Baxter knew it, or - even worse - simply didn't care,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit goes on to say that neither Lewis or Taylor could be reasonably suspected of any level of neglect towards their children.

“Throughout the ordeal, Taylor and the children never tested positive for any drug,” the lawsuit says. “Although Michael Lewis ingested marijuana for medicinal purposes pursuant to a physician's recommendation, he never tested positive for any other drugs. Further, there was (1) no evidence of abuse or neglect by either parent, (2) no evidence that Michael's marijuana use impaired his parenting skills or judgment and (3) no evidence that Michael Lewis acted inappropriately toward his children at any time - ever.”

Finally, on August 2, 2012, the children were returned to their parents. A judge ruled that the HHS had no grounds on which to continue holding the children. The Lewis’ family is now suing for abduction of a child, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

Sources: RT, Courthouse News