I'm linking up again with Secret Sunday- this time for my End of the Month Controversy!
What feels like an extremely long time ago, I wrote a post about women's health issues and marijuana.
I didn't write that post because I'm some sort of enormous pot head. I didn't write it because I had been looking for an excuse to be stoned my whole pregnancy with the girls. I wrote it because the information I found about cannabis as medicine was utterly fascinating. And learning all about something that could have REALLY helped me get through a very difficult pregnancy made me very, very angry.
Every time a major study has been done to look for all the bad things that marijuana is supposed to do to people, it finds the opposite results. Yet it is still illegal in most of the United States, and in states where it IS legal the judicial branch of the government is doing everything in their power to keep people from having access to it.
I think about hyperemesis gravidarum, which can kill the women suffering through it, and knowing that something as simple as a gram of marijuana a week can practically cure their symptoms makes me so angry.
I think about women at risk for pre-term labor, and the fact that maternal use of marijuana helps a fetus develop its lungs- the last organs to completely form before birth- seems incredibly important and helpful. How many preemies might get out of the NICU sooner, or avoid it all together, is they had properly developed lungs?
And then I think about myself, and all the pregnant women I know.
Women who are unable to keep food down, or who can't maintain their appetites.
Women in constant pain, who are unwilling to take narcotics that have been proven time and time again to be dangerous to a fetus.
Women who are trying to deal with depression and fear, and who can't use traditional anti-depressants or anxiety medications.
And I would like very much for all of us to be able to smoke a bowl and feel better.
Sadly, that isn't going to happen.
Despite the fact that pregnancy lasts for nearly a year, it's just not considered a "chronic condition" like cancer, or MS. So even in states where medical marijuana is legal (and more importantly- SAFE), no doctors will prescribe it to a pregnant woman.
Despite the fact that studies done of childbirth in pro-cannabis cultures show that infants have a higher survival rate when the nursing mother uses cannabis (which stimulates the infant's suck reflex and as a result causes them to nurse more effectively), doctors in medical marijuana states will not prescribe nursing mothers cannabis either.
Still, doctors prescribe drugs to pregnant women that are NOT safe. Antibiotics that can build up immunities in the fetus, pain killers that can cause addiction, and even Tylenol has been proven less that harmless. (For those of you unaware, several years ago research concluded that showed Tylenol use in pregnancy can cause infertility in male fetuses. While that might not be directly dangerous, I would certainly say that being infertile as an adult may have a serious impact on happiness and quality of life- so no thank you, I'd rather not risk it.)
I'm pregnant, and the fact of the matter is that I am just plain dreadful at pregnancy. Between the constant pain of my symphasis pubis dysfunction, the appetite and nausea problems caused by my pregnancy-induced gall bladder disease, and the incredible stress of simply being pregnant while taking care of two toddlers and going to school- not to mention the continual melanoma related anxiety- is enough to make anybody truly miserable.
And having read those studies, all those carefully monitored and vetted and peer reviewed articles, after spending years seeing the news of new things they've learned that THC can do to heal human bodies...
It makes me angry that there is SAFE* medicine that I can't access.
That even if I lived in a state where medical marijuana was available, nobody would give it to me. Although it's probably the safest and healthiest medicine I could possibly use during a pregnancy.
I have always believed that people are generally best at governing themselves. That there are some good laws, but that the majority of them are simply in place because groups of people- not people on an individual level- are idiots. Speed limits are set because people feel the need to compete on some absurd level on the highway. Most people by themselves are responsible drivers who know when a car is going as fast as it safely can or should go. In fact, almost every public safety law pretty much conforms to that idea.
But drug use is sort of different. There ARE drugs that people can't self-regulate. And, sadly, some of those are the legal ones. Alcohol is deadly in large doses, tobacco is deadly in much smaller doses, and caffeine has hosts of health problems it can cause or exacerbate. Prescription drugs, so easy to legally obtain, can be even worse. And frequently are.
Among the illegal drugs in this country, there are some that are indisputably bad. There is no single person on this planet that can responsibly use crack cocaine. And the likelihood that somebody can actually self regulate the use of powder cocaine or heroin is borderline laughable.
But marijuana? Marijuana can kill people, yes, if you bludgeon them over the head with a bong or choke them on a plastic baggie. But the plant itself literally cannot. The human body only has THC receptors in places that do not effect critical function- you can only react to THC with parts of your brain that have no relation to your autonomic nervous system, and your uterus.
Seriously, if you haven't you should read my review of Women and Cannabis.
So we continue to lock people away for years and years for using a substance that is, in fact, harmless.
Not just less harmful than alcohol, HARMLESS.
Yes, I would very much like to be stoned through much of my pregnancy. I would like that. I would like to be using a medicine that allowed me to function pain free and relieved my anxiety and restored my appetite.
But if I deliver a baby, and I or the baby test positive for marijuana?
Then I go to jail, not just for having used it, but for child endangerment. And that, as absurd as it is, is something I am simply not going to risk.
I have always said, the things that you do to make yourself a good parent are GOOD PARENTING. But what if those things are illegal? What if in order to get through my day, to take care of my children while M is at work and then at school, I must break the law?
Is it better for me to be a good parent, or to make sure that I am with them rather than in jail?
And what kind of example am I setting, obeying a wrong and arbitrary rule when all fact and evidence and necessity prove that the rule is wrong?
I don't know. I don't know if it's better to be hungry and in pain and angry when my potty training children are peeing on the floor, or to smoke two hits of pot and get down on the floor to clean up those puddles without crying or swearing when the consequences are that severe.
But the laws against marijuana as medicine are bad laws. And the ideas we have about using marijuana as treatment for chronic conditions need to include conditions, like SPD, that last 8-10 months. Or like hyperemesis gravidarum, that lasts the entire duration of a pregnancy.
When studies show that day old mice with their THC receptors blocked die 100% of the time, it's time to consider that maybe we have those THC receptors for a reason.
And when studies show that THC can not only alleviate the symptoms associated with cancer, but can actually CURE cancer, we have to start thinking differently about marijuana as a "drug" versus marijuana as a "medicine."
I would like to treat my medical condition, pregnancy, and the very unpleasant conditions associated with it with this kind of medicine. But I can't.
And that is simply ridiculous.
*The only negative effects found in children of women who smoke during pregnancy were that with VERY heavy users- approximately 30 grams (an ounce) each day- the children of those pregnancies were approx. 30% more likely to develop ADHD.