MISSISSIPPI IS THE FIRST STATE TO ALLOW A DIVORCE SOLELY ON THE USE OF MARIJUANA

Mississippi Code Section 93-5-1 (Rev. 2004) lists “habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine, or other like drug” as a ground for divorce. A grant of divorce on this ground requires the plaintiff to establish that the spouse’s drug use was (1) habitual and frequent, (2) excessive and uncontrollable, and (3) that involved opium, morphine, or drugs with a similar effect as opium or morphine. Ladner v. Ladner, 436 So. 2d 1366, 1375 (Miss. 1983). Habitual use is established by showing that the spouse customarily and frequently used drugs. The offending spouse “must be so addicted to the use of drugs that he cannot control his appetite for drugs whenever the opportunity to obtain drugs is present.” Id.

In the recent case of Carambat v. Carambat, No. 2010-CA-01226-SCT (Decided 10/20/11), the Court affirmed the granting of a divorce based upon the foregoing ground for divorce, finding that marijuana produced life damaging affects and addiction similar to opium and morphine and was, therefore, an “other like drug.”  Testimony showed James Carambat started smoking marijuana at age 14 and continued until he was 55.  James admitted to daily use but said he smoked merely to relax and that his habit had no bad effects.  His wife, differed, saying he removed himself from the family and was financially irresponsible.  The Supreme Court agreed with the Chancellor, finding marijuana to be addictive and damaging to life in the same way as opium or morphine.

Interestingly, three Justices dissented, stating that none of them or their law clerks could find any case in the country allowing a divorce solely on the use of marijuana.  The dissenters found that marijuana was not at all similar to opium or morphine.  They went on to state:

“In addition, given the unfortunate prevalence of marihuana in American society, it is a dangerous precedent to allow divorce for marihuana use alone. As already revealed, marihuana is considered to be a relatively mild drug, and remains the least regulated of all illegal drugs in the State of Mississippi. Marijuana is less addictive, less immediately dangerous, and less incapacitating than the major opiates, and indeed than most other illegal drugs. Allowing a divorce based on marihuana abuse will effectively hold that divorce is available for the abuse of any drug — which is not a natural reading of “opium, morphine or other like drug.”

1 comment

  1. In Texas, I have had several cases involving the issue of marijuana use. Some judges are rather liberal concerning the issue whereas others are somewhat strict. What seems to be constant among all professionals is that marijuana and children do not mix. Smoking marijuana in front of the children is a surefire way to have your visitation rights with the children restricted. I have seen orders in the past that disallows drinking or marijuana use12 hours prior or during visitation with the children. Thus, the court is not necessarily saying one can’t use marijuana but certainly not around the children. On the other hand, I have not seen pleadings rendered exclusively about marijuana use, ( usually there are other issues involved along with the use of marijuana) although, I have seen lawyers beat this issue to death while in court which prompts the court to act on the matter. In my opinion we should take marijuana use in perspective and not treat it the same as opiate abuse or even heavy drinking. We should also individualize it to the person. Some people do very poorly while smoking marijuana whereas others seem to be quite functional and at times even creative. Carl Sagan was a heavy pot smoker and he spoke about how he came up with the idea of his movie “Contact” while in the shower after smoking marijuana. He certainly breaks the stereotype of marijuana users being apathetic or unmotivated. Whereas, the stereotype might fit other people and these folks do poorly while smoking pot. In any event, it seems that cannabis use is less debilitating than heavy drinking, although society tends to ignore this.In most cases people who smoke marijuana are doing so because marijuana is anxiolytic – a stress reducer. There may be actually a lot of value in this and a better alternative to using benzodiazepines are excessive drinking. Of course, the drawback is that benzodiazepines and alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. This is commonly the argument seen during divorce cases and what an attorney will beat to death in court.

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