Thursday, October 20, 2011

Have another hit ... and let me serve you with these papers

Is a spouse's marijuana use, in and of itself, sufficient grounds for divorce? 6-3 the MSSC says "yes.", though Justice Carlson in his dissent finds this dubious:
The “opium, morphine, or other like drug” ground for divorce entered the Mississippi Code in 1892. Deborah H. Bell, Mississippi Family Law § 4.02[7] (2005), Miss. Code Ann. § 1562 (1892). At that time, neither possession, distribution, nor use of opium and morphine was illegal in the State of Mississippi. Indeed, in perusing the 1892 code, only two crimes related to that drug can be found. It was a misdemeanor to sell morphine in a container without a scarlet label with white letters, and it was similarly a misdemeanor to sell morphine to any customer who did not have a physician’s certificate. Miss. Code Ann. §§ 1213, 1214 (1892).
Hence the mere illegality of marijuana should not suffice to liken it unto opium or morphine. Justice King's op for the majority holds that marijuana had sufficiently bad effects on the smoking spouse that it was "like" an opiate.

If Carlson's research is correct, this is the first U.S. reported decision granting a divorce for marijuana use.


  1. That's a weird one in several ways:

    1) How did "legality" enter this-- beyond what Carlson says, isn't clear that abuse of prescription drugs will meet the standard?

    2) So if he'd plead condonation the case would never have arisen!?

    What I suspect Carlson knows is that this case will now be used like a club in case after case.

  2. Indeed it will. Carlson is a straight arrow, but also has good common sense (except of course when he votes against my client, but I've noticed all the justices have that weakness from time to time).

    One might say that this case is an advert for more chancellors on the MSSC, except that the one chancellor signed onto the majority op.

    I am curious whether our blogfriend Judge Primeaux will comment on this next week.