Free My Babies
June 11, 2012 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Is breastfeeding while using marijuana child abuse? The (warning: graphic) audio recording of Daisy Bram's pleas to police taking her (15-month- and 4-week-old) children away from her likely affected Butte County, California (Chico) voters' decision to soundly reject Measure A, a proposed new law to restrict marijuana cultivation. Today, Bram faces charges of felony child abuse and misdemeanor child endangerment for breastfeeding while using cannabis.
posted by mrgrimm (92 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's gotta make for an even hungrier baby...
posted by Renoroc at 10:48 AM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I hate this country.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


It's definitely shitty parenting, but that never stopped anyone before.
posted by docpops at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


To clarify: smoke your pot and bottlefeed, or stop smoking pot, and breastfeed, and try to be an adult.
posted by docpops at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


Oh - are they gonna bring charges of "felony child abuse" for parents who smoke cigarettes around their children? No? Well then...
posted by symbioid at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2012 [119 favorites]


Is there any science to back this up? Would they throw a parent in jail for breastfeeding while on any given processed drug that's prescribed?

I can see justification for prosecution of child endagerment if there were marijuana buds lying on the floor (for the child to inadvertently ingest).

While this does seem outrageous, this parent doesn't seem like the poster child for otherwise appropriate child-rearing.
posted by el io at 10:52 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


And - I should add that I am not defending her poor choices, but a felony? That's fucking absurd. Also - what sort of impact does THC have on breast milk? Have their been any studies done?
posted by symbioid at 10:52 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


To clarify: smoke your pot and bottlefeed, or stop smoking pot, and breastfeed, and try to be an adult.

It doesn't work that way.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tobacco use during breast feeding (and pregnancy) is proven to have harmful effects, but I haven't heard of cigarette smokers being busted like this.

(Maybe I better not say anything. The Law Enforcement community is always looking for ways to increase their business.)
posted by birdhaus at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Is it child abuse to smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, take a prescribed medicine, caffeine, etc while breastfeeding?

No.

The amount of drug that enters the baby is minute. There isn't that much in the mother and then even less gets passed on to the baby.
posted by 2manyusernames at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


By the way, taking babies away from their mother is DEFINITELY child abuse.
posted by birdhaus at 10:58 AM on June 11, 2012 [94 favorites]


Is there any science to back this up?

Science? I don't think we've had science taking a dominant role in the writing drug laws in the history of the country.

That being said, given that a mother's milk has quite a high concentration of fat, wouldn't cigarette smoking and drinking from fluids laced with fat soluble endocrine disruptors (BPA, PCB, nonaphenol, etc) be considered child abuse?

I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be another case of someone using any and all means to deprive someone of their child, regardless of how bad the job of parenting is actually being performed.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:58 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm, actually aren't there a lot of drugs that warn against breast feeding while taking them? I doubt THC would have much of a negative on babies, but it seems reasonable that breast milk might contain a reasonable amount if you were smoking while nursing.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on June 11, 2012


It's probably law enforcement not wanting to lose face.

If they lose the case, they look bad, so it's much better that this woman lose her children forever than THAT happen.
posted by Malor at 11:01 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Semi-reatedly, a friend of mine was told by her doctor that it was OK for her to smoke pot while pregnant. (Occasionally, anyway. She was never a regular pot smoker to begin with.) Kid seems fine, too -- very bright little mini-person. I can't imagine that breastfeeding a baby would have a stronger effect than placenta-feeding a fetus. This seems pretty horrible to me, to take a mother's children away over this. We live in a crazy, fucked-up world.
posted by Scientist at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


what a farce.
posted by empath at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


To clarify: smoke your pot and bottlefeed, or stop smoking pot, and breastfeed, and try to be an adult.
posted by docpops at 10:51 AM on June 11 [1 favorite +] [!]


She was using the marijuana for medical purposes. So, basically, you're saying "stop taking your medicine and breastfeed; or keep taking your medicine, and spend ridiculous amounts of money on formula, which in the long run, is still not as good for the child as breastmilk." Sounds reasonable.



el io: I can see justification for prosecution of child endagerment if there were marijuana buds lying on the floor (for the child to inadvertently ingest).


From the article: Butte County District Attorney says Bram faces charges for having a house strewn with marijuana buds.

I'm not saying her house was littered, or if "strewn with buds" is some kind of code for "there were some on her bedside table", and the DA is just looking for a reason to nab her, but there you have it.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:04 AM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


If it wasn't for breastfeeding and marijuana I wouldn't have had to repeat the 7th grade (twice)
posted by cjorgensen at 11:06 AM on June 11, 2012


"Strewn with buds" is a legal term, in the same sense that "strewn with household cleaners" is. But that's really just a digression, the key is to keep these ne'er-do-well drug and household cleaner using parents off the streets and ensure that their children are locked away in Midwestern basements.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2012


Is there any science to back this up?

Man, I haven't had a good solid laugh like that in a week.

Thanks, man.
posted by mhoye at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Anyway, yeah there needs to be some sound scientific evidence that this is harmful before the kids are taken away.

People have a very weird view of whether or not things are harmful based on their perceived 'morality'. Supposedly, smoking pot slightly increases the risk of a car accident, about the same as having legal blood alchohol level or talking on the phone while driving (and smoking more doesn't make it worse, again supposedly). But there are calls to ban driving under the influence of THC, but there aren't calls to investigate every substance possible to see how it affects driving. Why not make it illegal to drive while tired, or while talking on the phone, or while listening to music, while eating drive through food or any thing else that could conceivably affect accident rates?

If something has a slight risk but due to "immoral" behavior then people absolutely flip out.
She was using the marijuana for medical purposes. So, basically, you're saying "stop taking your medicine and breastfeed; or keep taking your medicine, and spend ridiculous amounts of money on formula, which in the long run, is still not as good for the child as breastmilk." Sounds reasonable.
Again, though, there are a a lot of real, actual pharmaceuticals that you should absolutely not breastfeed while taking. I mean, how would you feel about a mother taking Xanax or Welbutren or Adderal breastfeeding? Or someone taking harsh chemotherapy drugs.

That argument "Stop taking your medicine, or stop breastfeeding" is a completely reasonable thing to say, and something that actually is said for almost all prescription drugs.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


I can't help feeling that all this stuff like "don't eat cheese while pregnant" and "never drink any alcohol" is more about controlling women's bodies than any real medical risk. Try taking away all wine from a European, they think we sound like idiots over here with all this hyper-parenting. From everything I've seen, there is at most a miniscule POTENTIAL risk, with certainly no factual, medically-proven increase in risk.

And the whole "but why would you risk it" argument is about as valid as saying why not throw salt over your shoulder "just to be sure"... superstition is no replacement for science, and neither is politically-charged medical advice.
posted by lubujackson at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2012 [48 favorites]


... Thor and Zeus?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2012


Those poor babies.
posted by batmonkey at 11:11 AM on June 11, 2012


Is it child abuse to smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, take a prescribed medicine, caffeine, etc while breastfeeding?

No.

The amount of drug that enters the baby is minute. There isn't that much in the mother and then even less gets passed on to the baby.


I don't know about the other ones but fetal alcohol syndrome is a real thing that can cause severe brain damage and many other problems.
posted by XMLicious at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't help feeling that all this stuff like "don't eat cheese while pregnant" and "never drink any alcohol"

Completely zeroing out alchohol is probably unnecessary but Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a real thing. The problem is that if someone is an alcoholic telling them that a little alchohol is OK might cause them to go overboard.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's very important that we learn the exact amount of the THC the baby is receiving through breastmilk, as it will provide information for more precise sentencing when arresting said baby.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2012 [33 favorites]


To clarify, obviously alcohol or any hard drugs (especially in excess and with constant abuse) are known to have harmful effects to the baby. I just think making blanket bans because it's simpler than advising prudence is a net loss for society.
posted by lubujackson at 11:18 AM on June 11, 2012


XMLicious: The operative word in 'fetal alcohol syndrome' is 'fetal.' The topic of debate is breastfeeding.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:18 AM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


The difference between the safety of pot and alcohol would be that alcohol poisoning, you know, exists. There's a reason you never hear the words "marijuana" and "overdose" in the same sentence.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's like almost anything else with breast feeding, very little data exist to determine what is and isn't safe to consume while breast feeding and medical recommendations and policy decisions are highly dependent on societal biases. I think the cautious approach makes sense, don't ingest anything you don't absolutely need while you are breast feeding because there is a theoretical risk. Personally, my opinion is that the amount of THC, etc that gets into breast milk is small, and MJ use is common enough that if this was recklessly dangerous, we had a more specific suspicion at this point. There have been numerous small studies that show a small behavioral effect, but no correlation with long term growth and development both from in utero exposure or breast milk exposure.

I guess the question hinges on, if the best advice is "don't ingest anything you don't absolutely need", what is the reason a mother "absolutely needs" marijuana? At our hospital, if a mother has stated to any of her providers that she uses marijuana, or if the baby tests positive for it at birth, then it generates an automatic social work consult; some questions are asked, support is offered if certain needs are identified, and it would be a rare, rare situation when a child was ultimately placed in foster care as the end result of marijuana use. I've seen it once, and in this particular case the mother was homeless, drank throughout her pregnancy, had almost no prenatal care, had a prior child with fetal alcohol syndrome who was placed in foster care, and had another child with her that had serious developmental problems.

So, as a marker of other social issues, this is in common use, but taking a child away solely based on maternal marijuana use, would be fucking crazy.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Completely zeroing out alchohol is probably unnecessary but Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a real thing.

Well, for starters you don't breastfeed a fetus.

Second, FAS (and this is oversimplifying, of course) is a product of serious alcoholism early in pregnancy, like 6-8 drinks/day for weeks serious. A glass of wine a day as been shown in several studies to be pretty much harmless.

As is, I expect, a toke now and then.
posted by mhoye at 11:23 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is babby reformed?
posted by mazola at 11:25 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


In my (European) country, illicit use of any controlled substance while driving is an automatic DUI. Using a drug as prescribed, and even driving while tired, can also be an offence, if the prosecutor can prove impairment. We tend to consider driving car a privilege, however. Choosing not to drive isn't comparable to choosing not to breast feed.
posted by delegeferenda at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shit, if I had two babies that young I might need something stronger than a joint! When my kids were babies back in the early 1970s doctors routinely recommended a cocktail or two every evening for moms, even breastfeeding ones. Very proper older relatives of mine insisted that rubbing scotch on teething babes' gums was an absolute necessity. I didn't drink at all at the time and found both recommendations bizarre, but I'm sure i would not have had my kids taken away if I had followed these recommendations.
posted by mareli at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Any discussion on whether or not marijuana is safe for the kids while breastfeeding is moot, as from the "decision" link is this gem:
Bram said she got her children back four months later, after she gave up pot for the prescription drug Marinol, which uses synthetic ingredients to mimic the properties of marijuana.
So yeah, basically she had her kids taken away from her for 4 months, as a political gambit. As birdhaus noted above, that is definitely some m.f.-in' child abuse.
posted by hincandenza at 11:35 AM on June 11, 2012 [25 favorites]


I don't know about the other ones but fetal alcohol syndrome is a real thing that can cause severe brain damage and many other problems.

Yep, but a baby is not a fetus. A fetus is being supplied much more than milk, and having a few drinks can be worked around while breastfeeding (a couple of friends of mine were fans of what they called "the pump and dump" before having a few glasses of wine). It doesn't really seem comparable.

Marinol, which uses synthetic ingredients to mimic the properties of marijuana

Oh good grief! I guess we've established that what the law finds so very, very bad is the actual plant, but not the effects.
posted by Hoopo at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2012


Mareli: My mother has told me about the one time she had a substantial amount to drink (for a 5-foot-nothing woman, so two or three glasses of wine) over dinner before breastfeeding me. She was thrilled when I slept through the night, and then she figured out the cause-and-effect. So there's your rationale for the advice.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:48 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


...wouldn't cigarette smoking and drinking from fluids laced with fat soluble endocrine disruptors (BPA, PCB, nonaphenol, etc) be considered child abuse ?

If that were true, one could, in theory, take away the children of many a mother who bought organic food at a grocery store and every mother who ever bought a Happy Meal at MacDonald's.
posted by y2karl at 11:53 AM on June 11, 2012


"Using a drug as prescribed, and even driving while tired, can also be an offence, if the prosecutor can prove impairment."

I'm pretty sure that in many or most jurisdictions in the US, impairment is impairment and the legality of the substance causing the impairment is irrelevant to the impairment as a traffic offense.

In practice, most of this stuff involves cut-and-dried issues such as exceeding a specific blood alcohol limit where there's no ambiguity. But if you're provably impaired at less the the limit, you can be arrested and found guilty of DUI, too. And under the influence of prescription drugs you're taking as prescribed (which, by the way, many have advisories telling you not to drive), and whatever. Or having a medical condition. All the things you say are true in your country are true in the US — you can't drive if you have some impairment that means you can't drive safely.

It's just that as a practical matter, detecting, proving, and convicting someone for an impairment offense that doesn't involve unambiguous things like the presence of an illegal narcotic or an excessive blood-alcohol level means that people tend to think only in terms of those things and the police and prosecutors don't generally go after the ambiguous stuff because, well, it's ambiguous and difficult to prove. But they will — if you are witnessed driving erratically and get into an accident and you're under the influence of some drug that's legal and which you're using as prescribed but which causes impairment, you'll probably be charged with DUI.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey guys, the fact that other stuff is harmful too doesn't mean you should get high and breast-feed your child. Come on. This is not complicated.
posted by downing street memo at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're not sinners, downing street memo. If you can't show a meaningful harm to the baby, you have no business telling them what they should and shouldn't do.
posted by Malor at 11:57 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Won't someone think of the children?!

Someone had to say it. Comments like dsm's should juist be WSTOTC? and be done with it. Who needs thoughtful analysis and facts?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:58 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because what? The kid will overdose on THC, a chemical which has never caused an overdose? You might as well worry about breastfeeding after eating a banana split, because of all the potassium that the kid will get.

(I was originally going to say THC is nontoxic, but that isn't true. It can be fatal to ingest if consumed in quantities approaching one tenth of your body weight. So there you have it. Mothers, don't smoke enough pot to put three pounds of THC in your bloodstream and then nurse your kids.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


My mother smoked Marijuana throughout her pregnancy with all three of her children (myself included, obviously), was high during labor and smoked it while breast feeding. I really don't see how this can result in having your children taken away, especially when you have a prescription. It has very little, if any effect on the child. Certainly less than some of the people I've seen putting soda in baby bottles (which as horrible as that sounds, the children managed to survive somehow (/sarcasm), with some rotting baby teeth.)
posted by Malice at 12:07 PM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


From the tape:
"Oh, and that's another charge; child endangerment...Okay?"
Painfully blase. At least one of the officers seemed to be possesed of some humanity. I'm sure not a good day for anyone involved.

Apparently they'll be up in yours for drunken breastfeeding too.

Besides they're doin' it wrong. Everyone knows brownies are more effective than breast milk.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:08 PM on June 11, 2012


There are lots of medicines that you can't take while breastfeeding, for the record.
posted by andreaazure at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "
Again, though, there are a a lot of real, actual pharmaceuticals that you should absolutely not breastfeed while taking. I mean, how would you feel about a mother taking Xanax or Welbutren or Adderal breastfeeding? Or someone taking harsh chemotherapy drugs.

That argument "Stop taking your medicine, or stop breastfeeding" is a completely reasonable thing to say, and something that actually is said for almost all prescription drugs.
"

I take Wellbutrin daily (as well as Prozac, and the very very very occasional Xanax) and I am currently breastfeeding. This is with the knowledge and guidance of our physician. My son is 17 months old, and is quite healthy. I was on similar medications when nursing my two older children as well, again with the supervision of our doctors.

Unless you are thoroughly familiar with the science about breastfeeding and medication, making blanket statements about what breastfeeding mothers should or shouldn't do is less than helpful. If you are curious about some of that science, I suggest checking out the work Dr. Thomas Hale has done on medication and mother's milk. You can start at the general site Infant Risk. Specific discussions about breastfeeding are available, including how drugs enter into breastmilk.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 12:34 PM on June 11, 2012 [36 favorites]


Sure, this seems extreme, but if you can think of a better way to keep black men from dancing with white women I'd like to hear it.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


So yeah, basically she had her kids taken away from her for 4 months, as a political gambit.

The extent to which these raids are politically motivated simply can't be overstated. We are wasting millions of dollars in order to punish activists and keep marijuana illegal. These parents were violently raided and slapped with multiple felony charges as a direct result of their willing cooperation with local law enforcement -- in what way is arresting hippies who filled out a form a good use of law enforcement resources?
posted by vorfeed at 12:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


Yeah, they should leave white people alone and only arrest scary black people dealing on street corners.

The fact that middle class white people have access to all kinds of legal highs and rarely get arrested for illegal ones is what lets the drug war keep going, tbh. Either start enforcing our stupid drug war against everyone equally or get rid if it.
posted by empath at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The war on drugs alters reality at least as much as drugs do.
posted by Fupped Duck at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, they should leave white people alone and only arrest scary black people dealing on street corners.

I did not say that, nor did I imply it. As far as I'm concerned, all drugs should be legal and regulated, and we should be using law enforcement resources to address actual crimes.
posted by vorfeed at 1:05 PM on June 11, 2012


By the way, taking babies away from their mother is DEFINITELY child abuse.

That depends on the mothers. There is always the chance you are saving the kid from someone truly unfit.
posted by a3matrix at 1:06 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I presume the baby will be tried as a toddler.
posted by LordSludge at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Zeus and Thor? Cool names at least. Is she naked with 2 kids attached in that photo?
They would appear to be a bit outside the norm from a societal viewpoint.
posted by a3matrix at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2012


Is she naked with 2 kids attached in that photo?
They would appear to be a bit outside the norm from a societal viewpoint.


Outside the norm for only Western-type societies. A lot of people forget that we're animals too; it's just that the richer the society, the harder we try to pretend we're not.
posted by Malice at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


After reading more posts on their website, I notice they did not get their children birth certificates, SSN's nor do they take them to the doctor because they don't believe in Western medicine.

I'm all for doing what you want, but how can you basically screw your children by not giving them an identity?
posted by Malice at 1:31 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bram said she got her children back four months later, after she gave up pot for the prescription drug Marinol, which uses synthetic ingredients to mimic the properties of marijuana.

Jesus fucking christ this is insane. Marinol is THC, produced in a lab instead of in a plant. It's not "mimicking" marijuana, it is the same goddamn chemical.
posted by ook at 1:33 PM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


After reading more posts on their website, I notice they did not get their children birth certificates, SSN's nor do they take them to the doctor because they don't believe in Western medicine.

I'm all for doing what you want, but how can you basically screw your children by not giving them an identity?


Or maybe you're protecting them from having an identity which can get stolen? I don't know re birth certificates (I'm assuming they homebirthed, because you get them automatically at hospitals) but surely the kids could get SSNs later when they need them. I didn't get one till I was a teenager, in the long ago 80s, and that was normal then. My kid got one at birth, and now I have to worry some asshole will steal it and use it to fuck up his credit before he's grown.
posted by emjaybee at 1:46 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Second, FAS (and this is oversimplifying, of course) is a product of serious alcoholism early in pregnancy, like 6-8 drinks/day for weeks serious. A glass of wine a day as been shown in several studies to be pretty much harmless.

6-8 drinks/day is not necessary. 6-8 drinks at once during a typical week would result in high risk for FAS. In any case, the risk from alcohol consumption while pregnant does not go straight from "FAS" to "harmless." FAS is a specific diagnosis, but there are cognitive deficits and motor problems associated with much lower amounts of alcohol consumption, too, that do not quite rise to the level of FAS. I'm not saying that 1 drink/day is necessarily a problem, but I also wouldn't suggest that as long as pregnant women aren't drinking 6-8 drinks/day in early pregnancy, they're doing just fine. There are far lower levels of drinking that can result in FAS, and lower still levels that can result in serious cognitive deficits.

Anyway, I can reuse an AskMe comment that explains why consumption of alcohol while breastfeeding is different from while pregnant: "if you drink while pregnant, the alcohol passes through the placenta from your blood to the baby's, along with the oxygen and nutrients. The baby's blood-alcohol levels will pretty much be the same as yours. If you drink while nursing, your infant drinks milk with an alcohol content equivalent to your blood-alcohol content. So, if your BAC is .05, your infant is getting milk that is .05% alcohol (note that's NOT 5%, but five hundredths of a percent). That's a tenth of the alcohol content of alcohol-free beer."

I have no idea how this translates, if at all, to marijuana use.
posted by palliser at 2:08 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


nor do they take them to the doctor because they don't believe in Western medicine

Yikes. Not taking your child to the doctor is dangerous, speaking as a parent whose newborn developed a kidney infection. Some shit is doctor-or-die.
posted by palliser at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no idea how this translates, if at all, to marijuana use.

For one thing, the fat-soluble things that urine/hair tests check for are metabolites, not the active ingredients of marijuana. Cannabinoids themselves are typically out of the bloodstream within hours; theoretically, an infant could test positive for marijuana metabolites despite never having ingested any psychoactive compounds.
posted by vorfeed at 2:30 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm bewildered that they're explaining they're explaining their childrearing practices by saying they're Quaker. We Quakers are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but I didn't know the fire symbology was code for blazin' up.
posted by epj at 2:32 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't know whether marijuana in breast milk is harmful to babies. We absolutely 100% do know that taking babies away from their mothers for months at a time during infancy and toddlerhood is dangerous and harmful to children and can have long-lasting devastating effects.

Comparing kids placed in foster care in "borderline" cases where there was question over whether or not to take them shows that the kids who are *NOT* taken do better in terms of crime and educational achievement and drug use.

So, we have a known dire risk v. a potential risk that has not been demonstrated and is basically theoretical. We're not talking about a substance that can cause overdose. When in doubt, avoid the known risk.
posted by Maias at 2:37 PM on June 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


Uh, ideology aside, many drugs are actually concentrated in breastmilk versus maternal plasma. THC is supposedly one of these.

http://www.drugs.com/monograph/marinol.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472960/

No doubt better references abound.

Noone is advocating that you smoke while breastfeeding.

I think that we should make a distinction between what is good physiological vs. good legal sense as these are two different sets of concerns. Although apprehending the kids over this might be asinine, that doesn't make it biologically OK to give relatively large doses of drugs to developing brains.
posted by biochemicle at 2:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Marijuana is an excellent natural medicine, and safe. It has been proven as such countless times.

No matter what your take on this mother, or this story, you need to use that as your guiding principle when discussing or thinking about this case.
posted by cell divide at 2:44 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no idea how this translates, if at all, to marijuana use.

I don't, either, but at least one big study of women using marijuana while pregnant found no adverse effects. One would assume the mechanism would be the same as for alcohol, that whatever THC was in the woman's blood would be shared with the fetus. (This wouldn't be my first choice of places to link to for unbiased information, but I've heard about the study in different contexts and it seems legitimate.)

I don't know for sure how this translates to breast milk, but assume, as with alcohol, the amount of THC would be the same as in the women's blood stream, which, when it's not going straight into the infant's blood stream, should be negligible.

But of course this has nothing to do with the science! If it were, there would be a crackdown on booze.
posted by looli at 2:45 PM on June 11, 2012


This woman is completely allowed to breastfed naked and smoke grass and not get birth certificates and do any number of things that mainstream culture finds weird. What nobody has a right to do is take her kids away based on drug hysteria.

I am so sick of living in such a conservative society. Live how you want to live and stop fretting about other peoples lifestyles. What is bad, absolutely, is taking sometimes kids away.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:39 PM on June 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


And the whole "but why would you risk it" argument is about as valid as saying why not throw salt over your shoulder "just to be sure"... superstition is no replacement for science, and neither is politically-charged medical advice.

I feel you, but it's not exactly political. It's baseline medical advice based on potential risk. There is no way for medical professionals to quantify how much of a bad thing is okay, especially when the stakes are so high. Can a doctor give you permission to smoke a single cigarette during your pregnancy? What about two, or three, or... There's no room for common sense in a medical opinion, when the risk/reward ratio is so out of whack (the reward is temporary pleasure, the risk is a fucked up baby). People in general should use common sense (that glass of wine is not going to kill your baby) but medical professionals don't really have that luxury.
posted by grog at 3:49 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What nobody has a right to do is take her kids away based on drug hysteria.

I agree 100%. I also agree that none of the previous things you listed deserve her getting her children taken away. My only thoughts were that essentially, the kids won't be able to easily get a job, utilities, a bank account, might even end up country-less if they aren't able to prove citizenship (which has happened to others before for similar reasons). They're just kind of assuming the kids are going to grow up to want what they want and be like they are. Which may happen. But if it doesn't.. that's going to be a complicated issue for them.

Still, unrelated to the situation entirely and not a valid reason to traumatize the whole family by removing the kids.
posted by Malice at 3:50 PM on June 11, 2012


National Advocates for Pregnant Women do some fierce and informed advocacy on behalf of women (mostly pregnant women, but also mothers) caught up in our failed war on drugs. They do really great work and have lots of both heartbreaking stories about women charged with murder and having their children taken away from them for supposed drug use, and solid fact sheets on their website.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:54 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


they don't believe in Western medicine

Yep; if Dan Levine, a spokesperson for a medicinal marijuana advocacy group is to be believed, it sounds like the parents are anti-vaxxers. At the risk of thinking of the children, maybe those kids have more to worry about than milk.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:06 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


But there are calls to ban driving under the influence of THC, but there aren't calls to investigate every substance possible to see how it affects driving. Why not make it illegal to drive while tired, or while talking on the phone, or while listening to music, while eating drive through food or any thing else that could conceivably affect accident rates?

In Canada impaired driving covers anything that impairs your driving including being too tired to drive, fiddling with your radio, eating or applying makeup or any other stupid thing you do that causes you to be noticed as a danger by a cop. It's rarely used but the law is there. The specific laws are really more PR than actually needed.
posted by srboisvert at 4:27 PM on June 11, 2012


THC-laced breast milk: get on that Amsterdam.

was the child breast feeding at the same time as she was smoking pot? that would be impressive.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:06 PM on June 11, 2012


Surprised that no one has pointed out that if someone takes your kids away from you for four months while you're breastfeeding, you're not going to be breastfeeding them any more. Breasts work strictly on demand, and when the demand goes away, so does the supply. So one way or another, she won't be breastfeeding while smoking pot.

It makes me wonder if that wasn't the idea to begin with? Sneaky but effective.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


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

"The results show no significant differences in developmental testing outcomes between children of marijuana-using and non-using mothers except at 30 days of age when the babies of users had more favourable scores on two clusters of the Brazelton Scales: autonomic stability and reflexes. The developmental scores at ages 4 and 5 years were significantly correlated to certain aspects of the home environment and to regularity of basic school (preschool) attendance."
posted by smartypantz at 6:04 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


By the way, taking babies away from their mother is DEFINITELY child abuse.

That depends on the mothers. There is always the chance you are saving the kid from someone truly unfit.


Yes, this. I had more than a few cases back in the day where, if the babies hadn't been taken away from the mothers, then those babies would not have seen their 2nd birthdays.

This case doesn't appear to be one of those, though.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:36 PM on June 11, 2012


To follow up on Lulu'sPinkConverse's link, you can check out LactMed (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT), a database provided by the NIH that researches &publishes brief summaries on breastmilk, drugs, and effects on infants, all from decent sources. Their link on cannabis in lactation (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/f?./temp/~d4itwa:1:FULL) is stereotypically hand-wavey about TEH DRUGZ but helps to give the scientific overview better than one study. Sorry no links, on a phone.
posted by holyrood at 6:49 PM on June 11, 2012


What a load of crap. I came out from general anesthesia when my daughter was less than a week old and I freaked out and bawled because I thought I couldn't nurse her when she was brought back to my room, but the lactation consultant was like "it's just fine - she'll be just fine". And she was. Hell, they gave me 3 months worth of hydrocodone, and told me it would be no problem to nurse while I took that. Needless to say, I didn't take it - synthetic narcotics don't alleviate pain for me, they just make me angry and itchy. A felony charge and removal of the child is absurd if the only bad call was smoking weed while nursing. I can't speak to the remainder of the extenuating circumstances, however.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:41 PM on June 11, 2012


I'd like to see actual studies to see how much THC transfers to the milk, guess it really depends on time from when you smoke and when the baby feeds too.
Also depends was she smoking while feeding, or going outside somewhere before hand then feeding the babies, as the second hand smoke would be worse than the body filtered milk coming out.
Either was removal of the kids is a nanny state gone to far type of approach, and will do more last emotional damage to the poor kids
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 8:42 PM on June 11, 2012


So, what would happen if a nursing mother ate the plant instead of smoked it? Ignoring the "but it's illegal" argument for a second, are we really going to put mothers in jail for consuming a god damned plant? Fuck.
posted by readyfreddy at 11:46 PM on June 11, 2012


XMLicious: The operative word in 'fetal alcohol syndrome' is 'fetal.' The topic of debate is breastfeeding.

The other operative word is 'alcohol', which has been established by decades of research, not to mention any observant lay-person's observation, to be enormously more harmful than marijuana.

This case is horrible and we live in an anti-science police state backwater! And to echo PuppyCat above, nursing women take prescribed psychotropic drugs all the motherfucking time. So angry about this.
posted by latkes at 11:48 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't the first time this has happened in California. All I know is that there are millions of kids who have been raised similarly, but you will never know, because there is no way to tell.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:41 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this not throwing the baby out with the bongwater?
posted by pompomtom at 5:41 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


ook: "Bram said she got her children back four months later, after she gave up pot for the prescription drug Marinol, which uses synthetic ingredients to mimic the properties of marijuana.

Jesus fucking christ this is insane. Marinol is THC, produced in a lab instead of in a plant. It's not "mimicking" marijuana, it is the same goddamn chemical.
"

It's kind of insane that there's a market for a synthetically-created chemical that is also available in a plant that can be grown pretty much anywhere.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:09 PM on June 12, 2012


Oroville mom's hearing opens with testimony about husband's pot plant production

Dueling medical experts testify on marijuana's effect on infants

It's odd that they are focusing on all the marijuana lying around the house. If that was the danger, why is it Daisy and not Jayme who is charged?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:34 PM on June 13, 2012


Thank you, aptly named smartypantz for a better link to the Jamaican marijuana study!
posted by looli at 6:54 PM on June 13, 2012


In other child abuse and drug war news: Ninth Circuit to DEA: Putting a Gun to an 11-Year-Old's Head Is Not OK
posted by homunculus at 11:47 PM on June 18, 2012


Top DEA agent won’t admit heroin more harmful than marijuana
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. That's embarrassing. ^^^^

I've been trying to find out what happened to Daisy, but it looks like nothing was decided on the 12th and a hearing was recheduled for the 26th. Whee, more wasted taxpayer money!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:01 PM on June 21, 2012


Legalize Nature: Turning Pot into Medicine
posted by homunculus at 12:17 PM on June 23, 2012


« Older pointer...  |  "Look mom. I can tell from the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments