How High: Marijuana Use as Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi

Habitual and excessive drug use–including excessive marijuana use–is one of twelve grounds for fault-based divorce in Mississippi. Under Mississippi law, “[d]ivorces from the bonds of matrimony may be decreed to the injured party for . . . [h]abitual and excessive use of opium, morphine or other like drug.” MS § 93-5-1 (2014). A person seeking a divorce based on a spouse’s habitual and excessive drug use must show that their spouse’s use of drugs is (1) habitual and frequent, (2) excessive and uncontrollable, and (3) was of morphine, opium or drugs with the similar effect as morphine or opium. Lawson v. Lawson, 821 So. 2d 142, 145 (Miss. Ct. App. 2002). All three of these elements must be shown for a Chancellor to grant a divorce. In order to show “habitual drug use,” a person must show that their spouse customarily and frequently used drugs; one time, or occasional, drug use is not sufficient. Ladner v. Ladner, 436 So. 2d 1366, 1374 (Miss. 1983). Essentially, the spouse accused of drug use must be characterized as a drug abuser, and “must be so addicted to the use of drugs that he cannot control his appetite for drugs whenever the opportunity to obtain drugs is present.” Id.

What is “other like drug” under the statute?

In 2011, the Mississippi Supreme Court answered this question and held that excessive and habitual use of marijuana was a sufficient cause for divorce. Carambat v. Carambat, 72 So. 3d 505 (¶¶ 36-41) (Miss. 2011). In the Carambat case, the wife testified that she knew before the marriage that her husband regularly smoked marijuana. And the husband admitted that he had been smoking marijuana since he was fourteen years old. The wife stated that although the couple frequently discussed the need for her husband to stop his marijuana use, she never actually asked him to quit. The wife also expressed the ways that her husband’s marijuana use interfered with their marriage. She explained that her husband’s drug use led him to isolate himself from the family and that it led to financial issues. The court found marijuana use impaired the husband’s ability to perform his job and support his family. The wife was granted a divorce because the Chancellor found that her husband’s marijuana use was habitual and frequent, excessive and uncontrollable, and had the similar effect as morphine or opium.

Frequent and excessive drug use may keep your spouse from contributing to your relationship or family life. People often believe that marijuana use is not a bad thing, but even marijuana abuse can cause a spouse to alienate his family and disregard his marital obligations. The feeling that you are stuck in a rough relationship may cause more unnecessary stress on your marriage in addition to a spouse’s drug abuse. And living with someone who abuses drugs is not something a spouse has to endure. In Mississippi, an innocent spouse has the statutory right to acquire a divorce from a spouse who habitually and excessively uses drugs, including marijuana.

Whether your spouse’s drug use spans a short term or a length of years, if it is interfering with your marriage or family life you do have options. As an experienced divorce and family law attorney, I can help you understand your options. Should you or a friend need professional assistance and representation in a divorce or any other family matter, please contact the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt for a free consultation at (601) 607-5055.