As I sat in the office of my midwife, listening to the results of the massive list of blood tests done on the prior visit, I couldn’t believe how positive everything sounded. Being that I have Crohn’s disease and Endometriosis, I’m used to hearing that there is a deficiency in something, or an elevation of another thing—never that everything looks great.
So, I almost missed when she nonchalantly declared that I had tested positive for THC. It caught me off guard, like a gut punch, and I immediately became defensive as I envisioned what would follow.
I said, “I have only taken the full-spectrum hemp oil like I told you. I have read that buildup of trace amounts of THC can lead to a positive result-” She cut me off with a dismissive wave of the hand.
She said, “I’m only telling you because there will be another test at 36 weeks, and if that comes up positive again, CPS will probably get involved.”
I felt a panic, recalling recent stories of women who must deal with Child Protective Services (CPS). Some have even lost custody for treating their kids with a non-addictive and non-intoxicating medication, as reported by the Daily Beast.
I didn’t make the decision lightly to continue my use of hemp oil once I found out I was pregnant; my symptoms flaring up would be extremely taxing on the fetus. After doing lots of research and speaking to highly respected health professionals, I felt secure in my choice.
Following that appointment, I completely stopped using all hemp products, even topicals. Once I stopped, my symptoms flared up with a vengeance, and my pregnancy became difficult. I lost weight from severe nausea and vomiting and couldn’t sleep because my chronic pain intensified. My anxiety accelerated and my migraines returned full-force.
When I went back to the midwife, she asked if I was interested in being prescribed something to manage my symptoms. I told her no, because I knew what the side effects would be like for an adult, and I could only imagine what they would do to a fetus. She didn’t prescribe me anything, but for reference, here are a few pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed for my symptoms:
- Xanax: Used to treat anxiety. Highly habit-forming. Birth defects can include withdrawal symptoms, floppy infant syndrome, and low Apgar test scores.
- Topamax: Anti-convulsant I’ve taken for migraines. Can cause cleft palates and lips in newborns, along with other birth defects.
- Vicodin: Prescription pain medication. Can cause birth defects, as well as a physical dependency that leads to withdrawal.
Most of the content existing online regarding cannabis use during pregnancy is discouraging, because research is minimal and limited. Studies that have been completed are either misreported or problematic for several reasons, as this comprehensive piece by Leafly points out. Because of federal status, approving studies is complicated, and involving a fetus makes it even more complicated.
Currently, parents are not safe from CPS when they treat with any version of the plant, no matter how much anecdotal evidence arises about the life-saving benefits. It doesn’t matter that the amounts are miniscule; any THC can trigger a failure for certain drug tests. It also doesn’t matter to CPS if everything is done legally. Legality won’t keep false narratives from forming, ones that are responsible for tearing families apart. Until obstetrics research catches up with broader medical marijuana research, pregnant women will continue to be limited in their treatment choices.
Diana-Ashley Krach is a freelance writer, journalist, and content creator whose work can be found on Everyday Feminism, Ravishly, and Playboy. She is the co-host and creator of Your Highness Podcast and founder of Good Vibes Marketing Agency. You can find her on Twitter or on her website.
Photo by Sara Neff, Creative Commons license.