Mississippi Code Section 93-5-1 (Rev. 2004) lists “habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine, or other like drug” as a ground for divorce. A grant of divorce on this ground requires the plaintiff to establish that the spouse’s drug use was (1) habitual and frequent, (2) excessive and uncontrollable, and (3) that involved opium, morphine, or drugs with a similar effect as opium or morphine. Ladner v. Ladner, 436 So. 2d 1366, 1375 (Miss. 1983). Habitual use is established by showing that the spouse customarily and frequently used drugs. The offending spouse “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.
In the recent case of Carambat v. Carambat, No. 2010-CA-01226-SCT (Decided 10/20/11), the Court affirmed the granting of a divorce based upon the foregoing ground for divorce, finding that marijuana produced life-damaging effects and addiction similar to opium and morphine and was, therefore, an “other like drug.” Testimony showed James Carambat started smoking marijuana at age 14 and continued until he was 55. James admitted to daily use but said he smoked merely to relax and that his habit had no bad effects. His wife, differed, saying he removed himself from the family and was financially irresponsible. The Supreme Court agreed with the Chancellor, finding marijuana to be addictive and damaging to life in the same way as opium or morphine.
Interestingly, three Justices dissented, stating that none of them or their law clerks could find any case in the country allowing a divorce solely on the use of marijuana. The dissenters found that marijuana was not at all similar to opium or morphine. They went on to state:
“In addition, given the unfortunate prevalence of marihuana in American society, it is a dangerous precedent to allow divorce for marihuana use alone. As already revealed, marihuana is considered to be a relatively mild drug, and remains the least regulated of all illegal drugs in the State of Mississippi. Marijuana is less addictive, less immediately dangerous, and less incapacitating than the major opiates, and indeed than most other illegal drugs. Allowing a divorce based on marihuana abuse will effectively hold that divorce is available for the abuse of any drug -- which is not a natural reading of “opium, morphine or other like drug.”
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