Heroin, cocaine, and Mary Jane are all treated the same by child welfare authorities in New York City: even a legal amount of marijuana at home means your children can be taken away, even permanently, the New York Times reports. Several hundred of the city's casual dope smokers have been drawn into civil child neglect cases over the past few years, even though states and localities nationwide are loosening marijuana laws—and 730,000 residents of the Big Apple are said to use the drug annually.
“Drug use itself is not child abuse or neglect, but it can put children in danger of neglect or abuse,” says a child services spokesman, who adds that children are only removed based on other signs of neglect. Lawyers for accused parents, however, say officials tack on "neglect signs" as an afterthought. Meanwhile, parents who lose their cases face long-term penalties, such as being unable to work around children or adopt their own.