According to thousands of mothers across the United States of America, smoking marijuana while pregnant has helped them stay healthy during their pregnancies, helping them to gain weight and relieving symptoms of morning sickness, acid reflux, headaches, and dizziness.
On the other hand, government researchers have said that marijuana use harms unborn children they don’t know if there is a harmful effect on unborn children.
And yet, South Carolina law enforcement officials are selectively prosecuting women – nearly all black women – for child abuse for using marijuana while pregnant, and South Carolina DSS agencies are taking away their children because they smoked marijuana while pregnant.
Most of these women quietly plead guilty, accepting the judgment of their mostly white male prosecutors.
Greenville’s circuit solicitor, Walter Wilkins, is taking one woman to trial, however, attempting to put her in prison for ten years under a South Carolina child abuse law that was not intended for this purpose and doesn’t logically apply to it.
Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant It’s Good for You and Your Child
To be clear, I don’t know if marijuana use is good for your pregnancy. I didn’t smoke marijuana while pregnant, so I don’t have a personal story, but I haven’t seen any reliable studies that show harm to fetuses from marijuana use.
On websites like the Baby Center Community, moms are expressing how smoking weed or using other marijuana products helps them combat symptoms like morning sickness, acid reflux, headaches, and dizziness, as well as helping with anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.
Many are also expressing their fear that they will be drug tested and prosecuted – like what is happening to pregnant women and newborn mothers in South Carolina.
These are just anecdotal stories, though. Sure, there are thousands of them, but I haven’t found one single story about a mother who regrets her marijuana use because her child was negatively affected – only stories of mothers who are being hurt, not by marijuana, but by prosecutors like Walter Wilkins in Greenville, SC.
So, how are they proving that marijuana is harmful to the unborn child, to persuade jurors to put mothers in jail for child abuse?
Don’t Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant Because It Could be Associated with Harmful Effects
So, if the use of marijuana while pregnant is harmful to an unborn child – and we are so sure of this that we will arrest a newborn mother, take her child away from her, prosecute her in criminal court, and attempt to put her in prison for ten years, there must be some solid research that supports this, right?
Government Research into the Effects of Marijuana Use While Pregnant
As the government prosecutes Lauren Smith in Greenville, SC, for using marijuana while pregnant, the government has also conducted research, finding that they don’t know if marijuana use is harmful to an unborn child:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a US federal government research agency that funds 85% of the world’s drug abuse research, also has a webpage on the effects of marijuana use on pregnant mothers – with similar results:
- The very first sentence on their webpage says: “More research is needed on how marijuana use during pregnancy could impact the health and development of infants;”
- 20% of pregnant women 24-years old and younger screened positive for marijuana;
- “There is no human research connecting marijuana use to the chance of miscarriage;” and
- “Very little is known about marijuana use and breastfeeding;”
…the National Institute on Drug Abuse carefully uses language like: “research suggests,” cannabis use could,” and “studies show an association.”
University Research into the Effects of Marijuana Use While Pregnant
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington, which studies the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on children, says that there are possible negative effects of marijuana use during pregnancy.
Because the results are conflicting – some studies find that there are negative consequences while other studies find that there are none. One reason it has been so difficult to say, beyond any doubt, that using marijuana is harmful to an unborn child is that the studies have not isolated the effects of marijuana from the effects of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and other risk factors:
Assessing the risks of prenatal marijuana use is not straightforward because it is so difficult to isolate the effects of the marijuana from the effects of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other risk factors in the mother’s environment. For example, most pregnant women who use marijuana also use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs that have harmful (and often long-term) effects on the developing child. Pregnant women who smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, and use other drugs are two to three times more likely to also use marijuana. In addition, human and animal research studies indicate that lifestyle factors (e.g., nutrition, health status, exposure to violence, social support networks) also play a critical role in determining the effects of marijuana.
Mothers across the nation are saying, “This is beneficial to my pregnancy.”
Police, like the detective who called Lauren Smith and got her to admit to using marijuana while pregnant in a recorded phone conversation before she was arrested, acknowledge that they don’t think mothers should be charged for marijuana use – and then inexplicably charge mothers for marijuana use:
Perry [the police detective] asked if she had used marijuana recreationally, and she said no. She had been using it therapeutically and detailed her symptoms. “Well, that doesn’t sound like a wonderful trimester for you,” he said. “You poor thing.”
Perry acknowledged that the science is not clear about whether marijuana is harmful to the fetus or not.
“I’m not trying to give you a hard time,” he said, “but I’m also trying to be real plain with you, too. You could be facing criminal charges, and you might not be. A lot of parents, especially parents of kids are born with heroin or meth in their system, there’s no mercy for them. They get charged. Marijuana’s a little bit different.” As long as the parent cooperates, he explained, the state will work with them.
“I will touch base with you again,” he said, “I promise.” Smith never heard from him again.
If scientists have not found that marijuana harms an unborn child beyond any reasonable doubt, and even the detective who made the case doesn’t believe the mother should be charged, how can responsible jurors who want to follow the law find that a mother has committed child abuse beyond any reasonable doubt by using marijuana while pregnant?
Questions About Whether it is Harmful to Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant?
Do you have questions about whether it is child abuse to use marijuana while pregnant? I have questions, too. Government researchers have questions. University researchers have questions. Police detectives have questions. Other local attorneys have questions.
If the jurors have questions as well, that is what we call reasonable doubt.