marijuana consumption during pregnancy

DCS Pregnancy Protocols Plague Patient Parents

BY ALLISON STEIN

Imagine those precious bonding moments in the hospital with your newborn baby. One of the happiest days of your life, the first page in your child’s baby book.

Now imagine them ripped out and thrown in the trash, when you hear a knock on the door echo through the room. Expecting it to be a nurse or another family member with gifts. You say, “come in.”

A woman enters “Hi, is now a good time? If not, I can come back? I’m from Dept of Child Safety (DCS), here’s my card.” Hands shaking, you take the card and it reads “Department of Child Services investigator” on it. You then feel your heart sink into your stomach. “Investigate,” you think to yourself. Investigate what? As you look up from the card the woman begins saying, “It looks like you tested positive for THC during a few of your prenatal doctor’s appointments ….”

In the middle of a nightmare

The issue of cannabis and parental rights is long overdue for reform by DCS/ CPS. Too many medical marijuana patient-parents find themselves in the middle of a nightmare, dealing with … who else, but the State of Arizona.

Two years ago, AZ Central Bob Ortega posted statistics of children taken into DCS custody during the year of 2016. It equaled out to about 36 children taken daily. That’s a lot of broken homes. DCS pays for the parents’ lawyers, so it’s hard to find a lawyer to go after DCS. Most of the families targeted are low income. Still, the most disturbing factor is some of these families end up broken due to a plant.

From Prozac to Zoloft to many other dangerous drugs, doctors prescribe pregnant women medicine every day. Could cannabis be a safer alternative? Again, since cannabis is federally illegal and doctors risk losing their federally approved licenses, there are a limited number of doctors willing to weight in on the pros and cons of consuming cannabis while the pregnant.

We talked to some of the actual patient-parents who had to tangle with the state over the lives of their children just because, as medical marijuana patients, cannabis was part of their health care routine. Still others swear by advice they received that cannabis was not only not harmful, but specifically helpful during pregnancy and delivery.

I want to be Nameless …

Nameless

Hello! I want to be nameless. But I smoked throughout the whole pregnancy due to hyperemesis. Doctor didn’t know, but I told my best friend, who was pregnant with twins the exact time as I was, and who was becoming unhealthy due to all the vomit. She could not keep food down at all. Both of us also had high anxiety.

She finally talked to her doctor about it who referred her to a Jamaican study on children over the course of 5 years whose moms used cannabis during their whole pregnancy and that the kids of the users were better off mentally and socially than those that didn’t use! Legally a doctor can’t say to use it, but he did advise her not to pair it with tobacco products; and he added that vaping would be the safest way to ingest since edibles wouldn’t stay down. Both of our kids are 6 now and my son is in advanced classes. During her second pregnancy she didn’t use cannabis because the vomiting wasn’t as severe and that child has autism now. So, it leads me to the conclusion that there’s absolutely no problem with it. It’s a damn herb!

Mario

I had a friend that was advised by a prof. midwife that it would help greatly with the Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last month, and it DID! She was so grateful!

Hannah Desmarais

I smoked while pregnant with both my children, the doctors never said anything to me about it the first time around so I continued and next thing I knew I had DCS in my room a couple hours after having a C-section with my second.

I still smoked, knowing I would most likely have to deal with CPS, but I had been diagnosed with PPD (Post-partum Stress) and I was not trying to take the Zoloft they were trying to shove down my throat. Smoking worked wonders for both my pregnancies, from my depression to my morning sickness and food aversions! Pot saved my pregnancies!

I was willing to take the chance of dealing with CPS again. With my first baby, my social worker was a pain and stuck around for a year, my second they didn’t even open a case, just made sure I had everything I needed and sent me on my way! Let me know what else you’d like to know!
You can use my last name. I’ve already dealt with social services, so I’m not concerned.

Jessica

I used mmj during my pregnancy with the doctor not necessarily saying ok, but he didn’t seem have a problem. But then DCS ripped her from my arms the second I had her. And, they never even tested her poo or my placenta.  Took me 8 months to fight for her back. Over _____ marijuana! I’ve seen heroin addicts get their kids when they were born addicted to methadone! AZ is a joke when it comes to the safety of our children.

Sarah

My OB completely supported me using a natural option for my back pain and spasms — I was hit by a drunk and have permanent damage to my spine and nerves. I’ll be in pain every day for the rest of my life. He asked how much I used, and I told him. A gram was lasting me 3 – 4 days once I knew I was pregnant. It helped me NOT have a 5th miscarriage. It helped me be able to walk and exercise, stay calm and keep food in my body.

I’m diabetic, so my diet is very restricted as it is and had to be even more restricted during pregnancy. I had to go on insulin — baby was born with low blood sugar and had to be in the NICU for 2 days. She was also a little small due to me not being able to eat enough avocados, nuts and other things that have fat, but too many carbs.

Perfectly healthy, not a thing wrong with her. She’s 8 months old tomorrow and is SOOOO SMART! Very advanced for her age. But… on the day we were going home with her, the discharge doctor came in and said we had to talk to DCS since I used cannabis during my pregnancy. Even though she said that we both tested negative (DUH).

My husband was grilled for 30 minutes, I was grilled for 45 minutes. We were grilled together for 30 minutes. Then, our home had to be inspected before we could leave the hospital. 2 days later they show up unannounced and forced my husband to submit to a drug test, which he passed, obviously. We were grilled for another 90 minutes.

They inspected the house again and saw that we were beyond prepared for our daughter, having months and months of supplies. The caseworker said we’d never hear from them again and was closing our case. It took 3 months to get the letter that our case was closed even though she left a paper with us that day saying the “claims of neglect” were unfounded and unsubstantiated.

Even my grandmother that was here to help us got grilled. My 83-year old grandmother!

Jay

Someone I know has a rare condition that doesn’t allow her to keep any food down during her first two trimesters and is in so much pain that it debilitates her to the point where she can’t even walk. She lost 20 pounds during the first two trimesters her first pregnancy. With her second pregnancy she decided to smoke cannabis and it was the only thing that relieved pain and allowed her to eat without throwing up. She didn’t smoke cannabis before or after the pregnancy; but it was literally the only relief aid that worked for her.

Kid is healthy as a horse.

Rachel

It was suggested to me over 20 year ago because I was losing weight and could not keep anything down….however my Dr was out for one of my appointments and his replacement did a drug test and told me they would take the baby if I was positive upon birth…I was not.

Times are changing but the fact still remains that if someone tests positive for a federally illegal substance whether or not they themselves are carded they would be charged, because the baby would test positive and the baby is not carded.

Amanda

My name is Amanda, and this is my story. I got pregnant on birth control with my 2nd daughter, and in my first trimester, I was losing weight, so my doctor suggested to start me on medication, but he was honest, and told me he doesn’t like to recommend anything. So, “Just try to eat,” is all he said. My first trimester, I lost 30lbs.

My 2nd trimester, I couldn’t hold food in without smoking. A really small part of me felt guilty for smoking because of stories I was told (from non-smokers). Anyways, I told my doctor, in case they might randomly drug test me (always had to drop a UA anyways) and to my surprise,  he was actually very supportive of this!

He told me not to “go overboard with smoking marijuana” (whatever that means) and to stop smoking at 36 weeks, only because I developed gestational diabetes (had it with my first pregnancy, was kinda expecting it with my 2nd as well) and I was scheduled to have a c-section.

June 27th, 2017, I had my beautiful baby girl. Only side effects she got from me smoking cannabis was that she was 11lbs. I was on a very controlled diet and barely gained any weight! My GD was treated with the diet. Today, she is almost 2 years old, knows her ABC’s, 1-15, knows at least 20 full sentences, and knows a few signs (milk, mom, dad, sister, bed, finish, more, food) knows 5 full sentences in Spanish as well!

I fully support women who smoke weed while pregnant!

Nicole

I have used cannabis for 3/4 of my pregnancies to treat severe hyperemesis. One a doctor “okayed” it and twice I have chosen homebirth so maintain bodily autonomy. I was a “felon drug addict” for years before a doctor “okayed” it and now I am a legal medical marijuana patient.

Veronica

In 2000, I was pregnant with my first child, and only 18years old. I had many complications. I had a short cervix that led to me being in active labor for 3 months. I was on strict bed rest with a Tributaline IV in my leg 24hrs a day. I had a home monitoring system and had to monitor my contractions twice a day. If I had more than the allotted contractions, I had to give myself an extra dose of Tributaline and monitor again. If the contractions didn’t subside, I had to go to the hospital.

As if all of that wasn’t hard enough, I had a very hard time keeping anything down food-wise.  The same thing went for prenatal vitamins. By the time I was 6.5 or 7 months pregnant I had gone from 175lbs to 135 lbs.  Both the doctor and I were concerned and had to figure out a way to get food to stay down without adding additional medications to the already too-big list.

My doctor essentially told me that he couldn’t recommend cannabis because it was illegal, but some of his patients have found that smoking marijuana helps. When I told him my concerns about the drug test that would occur at birth, he told me that he was the one doing the test and that as long as I wasn’t going crazy with overusing it, the test wouldn’t be a problem.

I decided to give it a try. I would roll a joint when I woke up, then have some more around noon, and in the evening, I would take a couple hits and be able to keep food down.  I gained weight quickly and my son was born happy and healthy.

Tricia

Hi! I’m a podcaster with Moms on High and have 2 Canna-babies that I medicated to treat severe Hyperemesis. I’m very open about my chose of treatment and would love to share more of my story as well as why I’ve since become an advocate.

Kaylyn

I smoked while pregnant and had a Dr. tell me it was fine in moderation. You DO get drug tested, ladies, when they have you pee in a cup at your Dr. appointments. So, day after I had my son in 2012, I had CPS come in, tell me what tests I failed (marijuana) and that they’d have to do a walk-through of my house. I was told by my case worker in 2017 when I had my daughter that if I had my medical card, I would have been fine.

So, 2017 I again have CPS visit my hospital room and tell me what was up. That, since I had a previous case, I’d have to do in home visits for whatever amount of time. I had to take a drug test and was told if I had my card, I wouldn’t have to do all that B.S.

Yes, I smoked some of both pregnancies, and yes, with my second I breast fed her. She has never had issues and when born never tested positive. I don’t smoke around her and I’m responsible and keep everything locked up. It’s scary but it doesn’t make you a criminal. And CPS doesn’t want to take your babies, they want to know they are safe.

Christina

I ingested for two out of 3 pregnancies. I had my card for them both. Drs didn’t like me ingesting, but never really advised against it.

Bethany

I smoked while I was pregnant with my daughter. She was born in 2010. I never told my doctor I was smoking. I didn’t want the judgment or to be reported to the state. I had a horribly painful pregnancy. I had kidney failure during my 2nd trimester and had my kidney removed when she was a little over a year old.
We couldn’t get medical cards then, so I committed regular felonies driving across town to get my cannabis. I knew what I was doing in that regard, but I hurt so bad all the time. My doctor wanted me on darvocet (while pregnant) for the pain and I couldn’t function at all that way (and there’s no way that was good for my kid) so I rarely took it. Cannabis was the only way I got relief…or sleep.
I was so afraid they would test her first poop and find it.

A friend of mine’s daughter (a few years before) was tested and she had to take urine tests for like a year in order to keep custody of her baby. I don’t know with the new laws if that is something that still happens, but it was a reasonable enough concern for me at the time that I got rid of that first diaper immediately so it couldn’t be tested.

My daughter is in fine health. She’s never had any major health problems or developmental problems. She’s perfectly socialized and as kind as can be. I continue to smoke cannabis and she doesn’t know it as a “drug.” The dispensary is the “medicine store” and she knows to treat it like any other medicine and not touch it.

Developing Humans

Finally, two studies about cannabis consumption and pregnancy are underway. One in California and the other in Washington, at Washington State University. Although we’re unsure how child services handle cannabis use by pregnant women in those states and if there will be any legal recourse for participating in such a study. It should be interesting to finally see the impact cannabis plays in developing humans.

With all the limited amounts of information, Arizona DCS sure does seem a bit overzealous when removing children from the only home and family they have ever known. Robbing both the child and birth family of heritage.

If you have more information about this topic or about being a canna-parent who has had issues with DCS in regard to their cannabis use, we urge you to tell your Canna-story. Please send to storyinfo420az@gmail.com and let us know to include your name or keep your anonymity.

You can learn more on cannabis and pregnancy here:

Developmental consequences of perinatal cannabis exposure: behavioral and neuroendocrine effects

Cannabis use during pregnancy: Pharmacokinetics and effects on child development

Five-year follow-up of rural Jamaican children whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy.

POT WHILE PREGNANT? Debate rages over marijuana use during pregnancy

–Scottsdale native, Allison Stein writes for Arizona Cannabis Monthly.

  • DOMM LIFE BLOOM

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