Medical marijuana user wins daughter custody battle

In Children, Top Stories by David Silverberg

A Spokane County Superior Court judge decided to give custody of a 16-month-old toddler to her Washington father, a medical marijuana user who has been fighting to prove his medicine doesn’t interfere with his parenting duties.

The judge said said the state can’t require Billy Fisher to take inpatient chemical dependency treatment as a condition of gaining custody of his young daughter.

“The purpose of treatment is to help the person stop using the substance, and here Mr. Fisher has a valid reason and medical prescription for using marijuana,” the judge wrote. “He does not intend to stop using, and if he has no other method of dealing with his pain, stopping the use may result in other physical complications.”

Fisher, a resident of Elk, Wash.,  was working in construction in early 2007 when he tumbled off of a 10-foot foundation wall and landed on rebar, damaging his spine. He told reporters with the variety of narcotics that doctors were prescribing, he could not function.

“With all those pills being taken at the same time, I couldn’t even get off the couch to answer my door when my sister came to tell me her son had died. That’s how high I was,” he is quoted as saying, adding that when he smokes marijuana, the pain goes away.

State law says a person cannot be denied custody solely because he or she is a medical marijuana patient unless there are “written findings” that using the drug creates a long-term impairment that interferes with parenting, according to media reports.

Fisher spent most of 2013 trying to gain custody of his daughter after the state removed her from his wife.