A Washington couple behind a local marijuana store are facing accusations of child abuse after their 5-year-old son tested positive for cannabis.
Jesse and Vicca Thomspon live in Sedro-Woolley, a small city in northwest Washington State where they sold homegrown weed until recently. But what started as a perfectly legitimate business spiraled downward into legal chaos after they fired an employee.
The worker called Child Protective Services and reported the Thompsons for allegedly feeding edible marijuana to their son, Jerry. The boy lives with his parents and Jesse Thompson’s 13-year-old son from a previous marriage, Sohani.
Both parents have valid medical marijuana prescriptions; Jesse for pain and Vicca for arthritis and a neurological condition. Their pot shop was legal under state statute, but after the ex-worker called CPS, their lives were turned upside down.
“She told them that we not only are feeding our children marijuana all the time, but that they have access to it in our home and in our business,” Jesse Thompson said.
Son was given non-intoxicating form of cannabis
The Thompsons said they never fed weed to their son, though Vicca Thompson said she applied a non-intoxicating cannabis salve to treat scrapes and cuts. The couple said they wouldn’t apologize for using marijuana around Jerry.
“It just means I have an elevated mood,” Vicca Thompson said. “It doesn’t mean I’m incapacitated or that I can’t think straight. I’m on pot right now, and I’m able to parent.”
Local officials didn’t see things that way. Late last year, CPS workers visited the Thompson home. When the parents declined an interview until their lawyer could arrive, the CPS workers left. Shortly after, the agency took Jerry from his parents.
“It’s destroying me,” Jesse Thompson said. “I can’t not be with my son. He is all that matters.”
Parents allowed supervised visitations
Jerry was sent to live with an aunt, and the Thompsons were only allowed to see him during supervised visits at the CPS office. There was little they could do.
CPS never alleged that the Thompsons broke any laws by growing or selling weed, only that they gave some to their son. The agency performed a drug screening on Jerry’s hair, and the boy tested positive. Although the Thompsons denied feeding him pot, their comments suggest it did happen.
Jerry “gets aggressive and is too mean sometimes . . . and he just needs to . . . look inside and relax,” Vicca Thompson said.
The couple eventually got their son back, but only after promising to make sure he has no access to the drug. Their business, a dispensary called Grow Shop, was shuttered.
If Jerry tests positive for THC again, the Thompsons could lose him permanently. Jennifer Ani, a lawyer who represented another mother in a similar case, said that’s not the result voters intended when they legalized dope in 2012.
“The law says there has to be serious physical harm,” Ani said. “A child who ingests an edible is not going to suffer serious physical harm. They may go to sleep. They may be out of it. Children can’t be removed because of bad judgment. If they could, lots of people wouldn’t have kids because we all make mistakes.”