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September 22, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

A Michigan mother and father have had their six-month-old daughter taken from them by state Child Protective Services. Why? Apparently because Maria Green provides medical marijuana to her husband Steve for his epileptic seizures. What does that have to do with their little daughter, Bree Green?

That seems to be the question of the month and one the Greens can’t answer and CPS won’t. Read about it here (MLive, 9/18/13).

First, Maria is licensed by the State of Michigan as a medical marijuana caregiver. She’s been one since 2011, and she became licensed for one reason only — to provide care for her husband. And, according to her, it’s worked magic.

Maria Green… first became caregivers in 2011 when they could not find anything else suitable to treat Steve Green's seizures which have plagued him since 2006.

"He was taking 30 pills a day," Maria Green said. She added that his doctor had recommended medical marijuana as a way to end the seizures and it took hold almost immediately.

"I made his medicine and tweaked his dosing," she added. "On Dec. 1, 2011, he had his last seizure until June of this year when he was told that he had to stop taking medical marijuana. Now he's had eight or nine since the end of June."

Green insists that the marijuana is strictly for therapeutic reasons and meant to curb his seizures. "This is our life. This is his health that's at stake here."

That’s something CPS apparently didn’t notice. Bree’s father has frequent epileptic seizures — “eight or nine” in the past 2 ½ months. That’s a little under one per week. How serious are Steve’s seizures? I don’t know, but they’re obviously bad enough that the usual anti-spasmodic medications weren’t effective, his doctor recommended medical marijuana and Maria went through training to become a licensed caregiver. All that suggests to me that Steve has a serious problem with his epilepsy.

So one question to CPS would be, “Do you think Bree is safer with a father who can have a seizure at any moment or one who’s in no danger of that?” Does it really make sense to deny a caregiving father medication he needs to keep his seizures under control? Does it make sense to take a child from a father because he requires medication to control seizures?

CPS of course isn’t answering any of those questions. That’s probably good because what they told Maria about why they took Bree was so downright loony I’d hate to hear what they’d say.

Green claims that her daughter was removed from the home due to safety concerns. The fear was that because the family had marijuana in the house that it would make them a target for crime.

"I was told that in a case in 2010, a guy broke into a house and a little girl was killed," she said. "Because there are marijuana plants in the house, they said that it would put a caregiver's house under greater risk of being robbed at gun point. That was the eminent danger that [CPS] saw in coming to remove my baby."

I hope they weren’t serious. The idea that a child is in too much danger to remain with his/her parents if the adults have anything in the house that could enhance the possibility of a break-in is just too silly to believe. Let’s see. Do you have electronic equipment in your house like a television, a computer, an expensive sound system? Those are all well-known targets for thieves, so if you do, it’s “Adios” to little Andy or Jenny. Do you own a car? If so, then it’s “bye bye, Baby.” And I hope you don’t drive anywhere with the child in your car. That’s a double whammy. They’ll obviously steal your car and your child too. We can’t have that, so it’s best to put all those children in foster care, but only with parents who have nothing that could possibly interest thieves. Make sense?

Well, it turns out that excuse was too ridiculous even for CPS, so they’ve changed their minds about why Bree was shanghaied into foster care.

"What kinds of choices are they making that impact their kids, and what impact is the substance use — be it alcohol, prescription drugs, etc. — having on their children," CPS spokesman Dave Ackerly said. "The safety and well-being of the children involved is always going to be paramount with a CPS investigation."

He added that marijuana itself is treated the same as any other drug, be it recreational or prescription. He also said that the only exception is in the case of pills.

"We can determine with a blood sample or series of samples if the dosage matches that of the prescription in terms of use," he said. "That simply is not the same case with marijuana."

As to what choices the Greens are making about using medical pot or anything else, I’m in the dark, but so far not a soul has claimed they misuse any substance controlled or otherwise. And, since Ackerly admitted there’s no way to tell about pot usage, the question arises “What evidence does CPS have that the Greens have endangered their child or themselves in any way?”

The answer apparently ranges somewhere between “not much,” and “none at all.” Many, many articles have been written about the Greens and the loss of their child, and not one has said they’re a danger to Bree. She’s been in foster care since September 13. A hearing to decide her future is scheduled for October 7, so I guess we’ll find out then what CPS is hanging its hat on.

One thing is certain, however; CPS never seems to notice that taking a six-month-old child from the only parents, the only home, the only environment it’s ever known is terribly frightening to it. That child has formed important attachments to its parents and when strangers swoop in, snatch the child and place it with other strangers in a different house with different sights, sounds and smells, it’s a trauma that child may never live down.

The point being that, with a child Bree’s age, CPS had better be very certain that taking her out of her home is both necessary and the last resort to save her from harm. I don’t believe for an instant that CPS made any such determination in Bree’s case. There may be a child abuser in this case, but it doesn’t look like Bree’s parents.

Michigan CPS, like all others across the country, operates in complete secrecy. Laws in every state allow and in some cases even require that. So everyday citizens and even state legislators can’t know what CPS caseworkers are doing. Yes, our taxes pay their salaries and for their offices, the cars they drive, etc., but we’re not permitted to know what they’re up to.

And it’s a given that, when anyone is allowed to act in secret, eventually, they’ll act badly. They’ll act in ways they wouldn’t want you or me to know about and they do so because they know we won’t. And no state agency proves the rule better than CPS. In state after state, CPS fails to protect the children who need it and takes into care those who don’t.

And, all too often, they do so using the heavy-handed police-state tactics that, when they do leak out to the public, shock everyone.

Over the years, governments have discovered a powerful weapon in their ongoing fight against our individual rights and liberties — our children. We’ve always known that “you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.” That is, the police can always arrest you and you may have to spend a night in jail. That’s true if the charges against you are bogus or even if there are never any charges at all. You still pay the price of “the ride.”

Many people don’t much care about that. They’re willing to endure a little inconvenience and indignity. But when it’s kids, it’s different. No one wants a child, particularly a six-month-old like Bree Green, to have to endure that ride into foster care. Parents know all too well how terrifying that can be for a little kid and will do just about anything to avoid it. You can bet your life the police and CPS agents know it. That power — the power to take your children — is one of the most potent in the government’s arsenal.

Just in case you think the State of Michigan isn’t being punitive toward the Greens, consider this: the Greens live in Lansing, but Bree was placed in foster care in Port Huron, 2½ hours away, or five hours round-trip. What? There aren’t any foster parents in Lansing? There aren’t any closer than Port Huron? Please. Of course there are, but the Greens have the right to visit Bree, so CPS made it as difficult as possible.

Michigan isn’t the first state to use its awesome and awful power against people who use or advocate for the medical use of marijuana. My guess is that, in this case, like the case of Lindsey and Josh Rinehart in Idaho, the parents have done nothing to endanger their child and certainly nothing to harm her.

We’ll see on October 7th. Meanwhile, a six-month-old girl will be forced to spend over three weeks apart from her parents in a strange house among strangers.

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