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The Morality (or lack thereof) of Fetal Personhood in Medical Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

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High Times recently ran a story of an Oklahoma woman, Brittany Gunsolus, facing criminal charges for using medical marijuana during pregnancy, prompting her attorneys to seek intervention from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. This case brings to light the absurd notion that a fetus should require its own medical marijuana card, a perspective that seems out of touch with the progress we've made in cannabis legalization.

Gunsolus, 27, used edibles and topicals during her pregnancy based on her doctor's recommendation and held a valid medical marijuana license. Despite giving birth to a healthy baby in October 2020, who tested positive for THC, she was charged with felony child neglect by the Comanche County district attorney, Kyle Cableka, in May 2021.

The prosecutor's argument at a court hearing in August adds a surreal twist to the case: Gunsolus allegedly broke the law because her unborn child lacked a separate state license for medical marijuana. This preposterous notion, that a fetus should possess a medical marijuana card, highlights a concerning legal theory known as “fetal personhood.”

This legal concept, as described by Dana Sussman, deputy executive director of Pregnancy Justice, normalizes the idea that pregnant individuals become subservient to the rights and personhood of the fetus. The implications of such a perspective extend beyond the realm of medical marijuana, potentially infringing on the rights and autonomy of pregnant individuals.

To add a personal perspective, it's crucial to acknowledge the progress made in cannabis legalization and the evolving understanding of marijuana's effects during pregnancy. Recent Jamaican studies have found no significant harm to the fetus due to cannabis use during pregnancy. A five-year follow-up study in rural Jamaica, where many pregnant women use cannabis, revealed no significant differences in developmental outcomes between children of marijuana-using and non-using mothers. In fact, at 30 days of age, babies of cannabis-using mothers showed more favorable scores on certain developmental scales.

As we navigate this legal landscape, it's essential to question the retrogressive thinking that suggests a fetus should have its own medical marijuana card. Such ideas not only seem disconnected from the strides made in cannabis legalization but also raise concerns about the broader implications of fetal personhood on the rights and well-being of pregnant individuals.

The original story by High Times can be found here.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.