Photo from Lansing State Journal
(LANSING STATE JOURNAL) - The case of a 6-month-old Lansing girl who was removed from her parents after a complaint involving medical marijuana has become a rallying point for groups aligned behind the state's 5-year-old medical marijuana law.
Holding placards and chanting, "Free Bree," dozens of people gathered outside the Grand Tower on Tuesday to protest the state Department of Human Services' efforts to remove Brielle "Bree" Green from parents Gordon "Steve" and Maria Green.
"These are good parents, good loving parents," said Charmie Gholson, founder of Michigan Moms United, one of several groups that organized Tuesday's news conference.
Gholson said the Green case is among dozens in which state caseworkers have disregarded protections in the medical marijuana law while trying to remove children from parents who are registered patients or caregivers.
"There's nowhere to go when (Children's Protective Services) does this," she said. "When they took Bree on Friday, that really was the last straw."
Acting on a petition by Children's Protective Services caseworkers, an Ingham County Family Court referee on Friday ordered the infant removed from her parents' home because her mother - a registered medical marijuana caregiver - had marijuana in the house, the groups said.
The referee said the marijuana creates a dangerous situation because "someone with a gun could break in," Steve Green said.
A DHS spokesman declined to discuss the Green case, citing privacy constraints.
In general, the agency considers "what kind of choices (parents are) making that impact their kids," and how their substance use is affecting their children in deciding whether to remove a child, said Dave Akerly, acting communications director for DHS.
"The safety and well-being of the children involved is always going to be paramount with a CPS investigation," he said.
Steve Green said the CPS petition involving his daughter grew out of a custody or visitation dispute between his wife and her ex-husband involving another child. Maria's ex-husband filed a complaint with CPS saying her home was unfit for children, he said.
When caseworkers visited the home and asked to inspect it, the Greens refused to allow them into the "garden," or grow room, without a court order, citing a provision in the medical marijuana law that says only one person can have access to the room, said Joshua Covert, an attorney for the Greens.
Caseworkers went to court and asked for the child to be removed, he said.
"That put (the parents) between a rock and a hard place - either you break the law or we take your children away," Covert said.
The infant has been placed with a relative, the Greens said. A custody review hearing is set for Friday before Ingham County Probate Judge Richard Garcia, according to court records.
Gholson said she is aware of about 20 cases over the past year in which caseworkers disregarded protections in the medical marijuana law while trying to remove children.
Beside Gholson, state Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and representatives from the Cannabis Council and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition spoke at Tuesday's news conference and rally.
LANSING STATE JOURNAL