Parents Sue after Losing Kids for a Year over Medical Marijuana

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Gulf War veteran—using medical marijuana to treat incapacitating migraine headaches—and his wife sued San Diego County and others for snatching their two young children without a reason and keeping them for a year.

Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor filed suit in Superior Court against the county, seven of its officers, the city of Coronado and two of its officers, claiming civil rights violations of their civil rights, battery, false imprisonment and negligence, according to the Courthouse News Service.   

Coronado police came to the Lewis-Taylor home in August 2011 after an anonymous tip that the couple was operating an unlicensed day care center. They were not. Officers found marijuana while there, but made no arrests after seeing Lewis’s medical pot papers. Three days later, agents from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency came and took the couple’s children, 4 and 2 years old.

It was a year before the kids were returned after a stay at an emergency shelter and then foster care. While at the shelter, the children were evaluated and found to be “developmentally on target” with no signs of mental or physical abuse.

According to the lawsuit, the county agents incorrectly told the court that the marijuana was not prescribed by a doctor, that it was used around the children, that the children were “inadequately supervised” and that the wife also used pot.

“They left the juvenile court with the false impression that Lewis was a serious substance abuser, someone who forged records, a drug dealer, and a serious danger to the children when all those inferences were untrue,” the complaint reads. The doctor who prescribed the drug to Lewis was never contacted by the authorities.

Both Lewis and Taylor had regularly submitted to drug tests which showed he only used marijuana and she used no drugs at all. They were never charged with any crimes.

The county upped the ante in February 2012 when it added allegations that Lewis had a serious mental illness. As a result, the juvenile court made the kids wards of the state. Six months later, the state Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a lower-court ruling, according to the lawsuit, and the children were returned to their parents.

Lewis and Taylor are seeking punitive damages.

–Ken Broder      


To Learn More:

Gulf War Veteran Sues San Diego after Medical Marijuana Bust Leads to Lost Custody of Children (by Michael Walsh, New York Daily News)

Dad Says Medical Pot Use Cost Family Custody (by William Dotinga, Courthouse News Service)

Gulf War Vet Sues City of San Diego over Pot Allegations, Child Abduction (by Jack Daniel, Toke of the Town)

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