A Colorado couple, Joseph Lightfoot and Amber Wildenstein, was recently arrested on allegations of child abuse. The couple is not accused of physically, sexually or even verbally abusing their three children. The charges of abuse stem from a state law that makes it illegal for the children to be in the same home wherein Lightfoot and Wildenstein grow marijuana.
This case gets confusing when one considers the fact that growing medical marijuana in the state of Colorado is legal. Joseph Lightfoot has all of the proper paperwork in order to legally grow the marijuana on his property. But apparently, the registration process needs to add a “Do you have minor children in the home?” box to the paperwork in order to save families from the stressful legal woes that Lightfoot, Wildenstein and their children are going through currently.
The statute that puts the Colorado parents in the line of fire says it is child abuse “if, in the presence of a child, or on the premises where a child is found, or where a child resides…the person knowingly engages in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance.”
How does the statute fit in with the fact that Lightfoot is legally registered to manufacture the substance and registered as a caregiver in Colorado? This question will hopefully be clearly answered through this case and provide clarity for manufacturers throughout the state.
Some advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana worry that this case is just the beginning of future similar cases. They fear that the child abuse statute will be leveraged instead of reevaluated in order for opponents of legalization to shut down the new, progressive legislation.
That is why many eyes are on this case, nationally, and we will update you on the status of Lightfoot and Wildenstein when details unfold. Each of them faces one charge of child abuse, and their cases are scheduled to begin in court next week.
Denver Westword Blogs: Marijuana cultivation leads to child abuse charges: New way to target home grows?