Nicholas Pouch runs an organic farm and a glassblowing studio on a 20-acre spread in southwest Washington's timber country. Spicy mustard greens, tomatoes and corn sprout in humid greenhouses as chickens and sheep roam nearby.
It would be an ideal place for children to romp, Pouch thinks. But his children can't be there because he's a medical marijuana patient.
A drug task force acting on a tip from his former partner raided his grow operation in 2007. Even though Pouch's criminal charges were dropped, she cited the arrest and his marijuana use in winning full custody of their boys, now 9 and 11.
For the past 2 1/2 years, Pouch has seen the boys twice a month, during supervised visits at a neutral house in Olympia. "There's no reason anybody should have to go through this," Pouch said. "Why aren't they here, chasing snakes like they like to do?"
More than a decade after states began approving marijuana for medical use, its role in custody disputes remains a little-known side effect.