Horry County police arrested a woman after her newborn baby tested positive for marijuana.
Fortunately, this is a rare move by police – if they arrested every pregnant woman who uses marijuana, the jails would be overflowing with mothers and soon-to-be mothers. Government research shows that 20 percent of pregnant women younger than 25 tests positive for THC.
Is Pot Really Harmful?
We don’t know if marijuana is harmful to a fetus. None of the government or private research into the question has yielded definitive results. Instead, researchers repeatedly find that they can’t be “certain” of the effects of marijuana during pregnancy, and that “more research” is needed.
However, the irrational War on Drugs makes it very difficult – and expensive – to conduct research on marijuana. Cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, alongside hard drugs like heroin, which means the federal government believes it has no medicinal value and it is highly addictive and dangerous.
Cocaine, on the other hand, is Schedule II, meaning it is considered less dangerous, less addictive, and more medically useful than marijuana.
It’s a curious distinction, considering that cocaine is rarely used as a medicine, while 30 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. It’s also odd because about 10,000 people die of cocaine-related overdoses each year, while no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose.
What Do Pregnant Women Say About It?
On websites like the BabyCenter Community, scores of mothers say marijuana helped them through their pregnancy.
Women claim the drug helps them relieve symptoms of debilitating morning sickness, acid reflux, headaches, and dizzy spells. Others say it helps them gain much-needed weight.
They also say their kids were healthy when they were born, and a lot of them brag about their children’s high academic achievements when they start school. These stories are everywhere, while I have found it nearly impossible to find mothers expressing regret over their marijuana use while pregnant.
Sure, they are only anecdotes, but there is value in first-hand accounts – especially when the scientific research is clearly on the fence.
Does Arresting Mothers Protect Anyone?
The only thing we know for certain about marijuana use during pregnancy is that we know nothing for certain. Some researchers urge pregnant women to avoid cannabis because it “could be” harmful, while thousands of mothers swear by the medicinal value of marijuana.
Does the research provide enough evidence of harm to throw a young mother in jail? Not even close.
This woman now faces child abuse and neglect charges, some of the most socially stigmatizing accusations anyone can face. The baby has been placed in the care of another family member, disrupting their lives. And, research consistently shows that children are better off with their biological parents unless they present a clear and imminent danger.
All this damage has already been done to so many people in just one case because … marijuana “could” be harmful to a fetus. H/T Charleston criminal defense blog
SC Marijuana Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Columbia, and Charleston
If you have been charged with any marijuana-related offense in the Horry County, Columbia, or Charleston areas, we want to help. Call now to talk with a drug crimes defense attorney at Coastal Law at (843) 488-5000 or contact us online to find out how we can help.