How The Legalization Of Marijuana In Massachusetts Might Impact Child Custody

January 21, 2020 O'Connor Family Law Child Custody

The recent legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts has allowed the substance to be used much in the same way as alcohol, without legal repercussions for safe use on private property. However, minors under the age of 21 cannot use marijuana, meaning parents should be sure to keep it away from their children. In fact, improperly storing the substance and allowing a child to gain access to it could even lead to allegations that you are an unfit parent.

As an adult, you have a right to live your life how you see fit within the confines of the law, but if a court or other parent has reason to believe that marijuana use has affected your ability to raise a child, a court may limit or even terminate custody. We know that your children are a priority. This is why it is critical to understand how legal marijuana use can affect your family’s future, so that you can make the decisions that are right for you.


Massachusetts has been a national leader in legalizing the use of marijuana. According to Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 94G §7, no adult over the age of 21 can face arrest or prosecution for the possession of marijuana in amounts of one ounce or less. Additionally, a person may keep up to ten ounces at home and cultivate up to six plants legally.

As applied to the concept of child custody, subsection (4)(d) states that unless the child is placed in unreasonable danger, parental rights can’t be changed solely based on the use or possession of marijuana. While it may have been grounds for custody alterations in the past, it does not guarantee a change in your rights.


Despite the use of marijuana being legal in Massachusetts and laws prohibiting its cited use as a reason to change a child custody arrangement, marijuana can still factor into custody proceedings. Essentially, family courts can consider many different factors when creating a plan in your child’s best interest. This means that, while the consumption of weed may not be the only factor affecting child custody for parents in Westborough, the abuse of any substance can still lead to the loss of certain parenting privileges.

For example, while there is no Commonwealth law against the use of marijuana for adults, it is illegal to supply these substances to a person who is under the age of 21. It is also illegal to use marijuana and then operate a motor vehicle. If a parent faces allegation of violating these laws, it may jeopardize their custody.

After 35 years of exclusive family law experience, we understand that a parent’s child’s safety will always be a top priority. If your child’s other parent has demonstrated either of these behaviors, it is essential to speak with an experienced custody lawyer to protect your child.


The legalization of pot in Massachusetts has been hailed as a step forward in criminal justice reform. All adults can now legally consume, possess, and grow marijuana, without these activities being held against them during custody matters.

At the end of the day, however, custody must always reflect the best interests of your child. Therefore, the misuse or abuse of any drug can still create a bad environment for a child, which may have a significant impact on the outcome of a custody case. If you have questions or concerns about the intersection of legal marijuana use and custody proceedings, call our Westborough office to get in touch with our exceptional legal team today.