A number of parents in New York have found that, while their small marijuana possessions were not cause for a criminal investigation, these drugs may be grounds for losing custody of their children, the New York Times reports.

Child custody caseworkers have taken many children from their parents after police found small amounts of marijuana in homes, even though these amounts are well below the legal threshold for even a misdemeanor.

According to the publication, hundreds of New York residents who have admitted to using the drug or been caught with small amounts have become embroiled in legal battles. Some have also lost custody of their children to their ex-spouses, ex-lovers or even to the state. Child welfare agencies argue that, although marijuana use or possession may not be punishable under the law when the amounts are small enough, parents who use the drug could indicate that there are other serious problems regarding the care of their children.

While some people consider marijuana use to be harmless, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns parents that research has shown that family members’ use of alcohol and drugs greatly affects whether children and teens start using drugs.

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