An 11-month-old California boy was taken into protective custody because his parents have legal prescriptions for medical marijuana.
His mother, Shawnee Anderson, 27, and her boyfriend, the baby’s father, 34-year-old Aaron Hillyer, pleaded with police on their front lawn in Northern California for their baby. Police were responding to a call about a domestic dispute. The couple had apparently had a loud argument.
The home was in disarray and their marijuana was out. That's when the officers took their son, Sage, into protective custody.
“I told them we had our cards, our prescriptions,” said Anderson. “They didn’t want to see them.”
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“I was pleading with them, ‘Look, you guys, I understand your perception, but we are wonderful parents, hardworking members of our community,’” Hillyer told CNN. “They could not conceive of the fact that you can be a wonderful parent, a decent human being, and medicate with marijuana.”
"I want you to understand that your baby doesn't need to be subjected to marijuana," an officer told Shawnee in an audio recording she made on her cell phone.
“What makes you think he is?” she asks.
“Because your house really smells bad of marijuana,” he replied.
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Child Protective Services told CNN that the department does not differentiate between medical marijuana and illegal marijuana.
"CPS handles (cases) the same way regardless of what the drug ... is," said Michael Weston, deputy director of public affairs and outreach programs at the California Department of Social Services. "Everything is weighed in reference to, 'Is this a danger to the child? Is there a potential harm to the child? Is this showing signs of abuse or neglect?'"
The couple’s attorney, Jennifer Ani, says CPS needs to look deeper into their policy regarding legal medical marijuana.
“What the social worker’s supposed to do is look on a case-by-case basis at individual circumstances, and that’s what’s not happening,” Ani said.
Doting parents who are gainfully employed across the country are facing similar custody issues.
Maria Green, a medical marijuana patient in Lansing, Mich., says her 6-month-old daughter was taken from her for two months. Green is prescribed medical marijuana for her multiple sclerosis. Her husband also has a prescription to treat epilepsy.