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One-Time Use of Marijuana by Parent Is Not Child Abuse

The Appellate Division recently held that a parent's admission to a one-time use of marijuana while her infant child was in her care was not in itself enough to establish that the parent neglected or abused the child. The decision overturned a trial court's determination that the mother neglected and abused her infant when the mother used marijuana while accompanied by her child.  

The Appellate Division noted that the trial judge should have investigated the circumstances of the mother's ingestion instead of just relying on written reports provided by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). Furthermore, the court did not know anything about the magnitude, duration or impact of the mother's intoxication. If the trial court did investigate the circumstances of the mother's ingestion and the investigation proved that the mother's drug use did pose a risk of harm to the child, it appears that the one incident may have been enough to satisfy the requirements of neglect and/or abuse in our statutes. 

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