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Photos courtesy of Steve and Maria Green
After weeks of court-ordered separation, Bree Green has finally been returned to the custody of her parents.
Things are going better for the Green family now than when we last posted about them. Steve and Maria Green’s daughter had been removed by Child Protective Services because of now-dismissed legal charges and complaints from Maria’s ex-husband about the fact that the Greens legally grow their own medical marijuana. A prosecutor in Oakland County reviewed Steve’s medical records and approved their motion for immunity under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The felony cannabis charges have been dropped, and neither Steve nor Maria Green are facing any other criminal charges. The same judge who refused to allow Steve’s attorney to even speak about his medical necessity was forced to sign the order vacating the charges.
Although criminal charges against the Greens were dropped on October 3rd, their daughter Brielle wasn’t returned to their custody until October 25th, 2013.
While it’s wonderful that their daughter was returned, this terrible violation of familial rights should never have happened to the Green family. TheMichigan Medical Marihuana Act is supposed to prevent this kind of tragedy. Six weeks of separation is an extreme disruption to the mother-child bond so important during the first year of life. Those weeks apart could have done far more damage than any alleged level of cannabis exposure.
Just days before it was announced that Bree was being returned home, county officials were rattling their sabers about an alleged positive drug test and Steve’s (completely unrelated and long past) criminal history.
Apparently, a court-ordered test on a hair follicle removed from Bree’s head allegedly tested positive for cannabis. According to reports from the court, a follicle test allegedly indicated there were cannabinoids present in Bree’s system in the amount of .3 picograms.
What does that mean, exactly?
Picograms are a unit of measure that represent one-trillionth of a gram. A single piece of human hair has an average weight of between 1 and ¼ milligram. If Bree’s hair weighed the low end of average, it would represent 250,000,000 picograms. When you compare those two numbers, .3 picograms and 250,000,000 picograms, it is easy to see how something as simple as minor equipment contamination from a previous sample could have caused a false positive. This positive test is right on the threshold of admissibility, and the attorney for the Greens immediately moved to contest its accuracy.
The attorney for the Greens, Joshua Covert, was quoted in the Lansing City Pulse making a very apt comparison. “We’re talking a couple grains of sand in an Olympic-sized swimming pool…Anytime you’re measuring something that small, errors in a machine can cause a false positive.”
The Greens continued to assert that their daughter has not been exposed to cannabis and ordered a second hair follicle test to verify the results of the state-ordered test. Thankfully, they didn’t need to present the test in court; an agreement was reached with the Department of Human Services allowing Bree to finally go home to her parents after weeks of upheaval and disruption.
As part of their agreement, the Greens are subject to ongoing drug testing (though their medical cannabis use is being permitted), and are being forced to attend parenting classes despite lack of any credible evidence of a parenting deficiency. While the Greens are simply grateful for Bree’s return, the rest of us need to take steps to ensure this situation is never repeated in another medical marijuana state.
It’s ridiculous that the Greens have had to defend themselves against assertions based in fear rather than science or reason. It’s infuriating that the generally accepted scientific consensus on cannabis has not been adopted by law enforcement, human services, and the family courts even in states where medical and recreational cannabis use are legal. The systemic attack on cannabis patients must stop so that these resources can be redirected at children actually being damaged by their upbringing.
The Greens were not just fighting for their beautiful daughter, Bree. They were fighting for the basic human rights of all parents and children. They are still pushing back against a corrupt and financially-motivated system that places healthy, loved children into dangerous foster care situations. The Greens have been leading the charge for all of us, and they need our help and support to ensure what happened to their family never happens again.
To the Greens, their attorney, and to everyone who helped support them and get Bree back home: congratulations and thank you for fighting. We’ve still got a long way to go in this war, but winning this particular battle will help turn the tide. Until the day comes when children are no longer being removed from loving homes over the simple presence or use of a safe, natural plant, we will all need to fight onward and push for broader reform in the court and legal systems.