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Utah mom says she faces loss of custody due to THC, despite being legal medical cannabis user

Posted at 12:56 PM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 14:56:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Emily Roberts lives with debilitating pain that makes it tough to do simple things like walk, or wash the dishes.

Even though she has a legal right to use medical cannabis, she has stopped taking it for months now.

Roberts said she was taking CBD oil from a state-sanctioned study, and also had a medical cannabis recommendation from her doctor.

She tested positive for THC, and a juvenile court judge claims with no dispensaries open yet - it is illegal to have THC in your system. Supporters said this is false and the judge is clearly confused.

Roberts said she feels like she’s being persecuted for following the law.

“He doesn’t understand the new medical cannabis law, and he’s denying me my legal ability to use this medicine and to be a better mom without so much pain that I now have," she said.

Roberts said the medicine relieves her pain and allows her to be more present for her children.

“All I want is to be healthy and to keep raising my precious girls in peace, and the government is stopping me from doing both," she said.

This is still an active case.

Roberts said she is putting a lot of faith in lawmakers. Next week they'll meet for a special session to discuss medical cannabis and go over patient protections.

If lawmakers sign off on it, she’s hoping the judge will throw out the case.

Diane Moore, the Director of Utah Child and Family Services, said they cannot comment on specific cases but provided this statement:

"Thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate the opportunity to create a shared understanding about our services and how we promote health and safety of the children and families within the communities.

We understand that cannabis use is a complex and evolving issue that can affect children and families. Our focus is on any parent behavior that affects their ability to safely care for their child, not the use of a substance. For us to be involved with a family, there must be evidence that harm or the threat of harm to a child exists.

Our goal is to strengthen a parent’s ability to care for their children in their own homes whenever safely possible. We are working with our community partners and seeking guidance from our legislature to better understand the impacts of medical cannabis and to continue our mission to strengthen parents’ ability to safely care for their children.

Please note, confidentiality is an important part of what we do to effectively work with families to keep children safe. For that reason, we can’t share details of a case, or confirm our involvement with a family."