Maternity Wards Are Testing New Moms & Babies for Marijuana Use

Make sure you don't toke up if you're about to go into labor. At least if you're planning on going to a public hospital in New York City. Because if you test positive for marijuana after the delivery, you're likely to have a child protective services investigation before you even get the baby home. More than a dozen city maternity wards routinely test new moms for marijuana usage and turn the results over to city agencies.

These moms are almost exclusively low-income and minority women. If you're an upper class white woman in the suburbs who pops a Xanax before your delivery (not that you should, but if you do), then you're in the clear.


Family court attorneys apparently see lots of "neglect" cases against new moms, centering solely around a positive test for marijuana use after their delivery. One hospital in the Bronx requires moms to get tested -- if they refuse, then the babies are tested.

One woman at this hospital tested positive -- she admitted she smoked pot two weeks before at a party -- and the hospital reportedly held her and her baby for two days, only letting her go once subsequent tests came back negative. She was still put on "mommy probation" -- which included parenting classes -- for a year.

A spokesperson for the hospital told the Daily News: "This is a high-risk population in this hospital. The intent is to help them deliver healthy babies." Err, okay. But by the time a mother has given birth, your test doesn't help with that at all. If this was truly the intent, why not test all women as soon as they get pregnant. (Talk about intrusive government!)

I'm not against women being given counseling and parenting classes after births. In fact, it should be an option for every woman, not just low-income minority women who test positive for marijuana use.

On the other hand, I understand the desire to protect newborns. But I can't get around the fact that this testing is only focusing on marijuana and only low-income city women. I mean, what about testing for heroin use? Meth? Or, for that matter, what about cigarettes and alcohol? What about women who are on various pharmaceuticals such as Adderall, Xanax, Vicodin, etc.?

And should we really even go on a witch hunt for that? Many women are prescribed drugs -- yes, even while they're pregnant -- and it would be difficult to figure out if they were abusing them and not merely taking what was prescribed. I had a friend who was strongly urged to continue her anti-depressants during her pregnancy. Luckily, she wasn't tested for anything after birth.

And what about the dads?? If marijuana use is damaging to babies, what good does it do for a mom to test clean but then the baby goes home to a dad who smokes up?

What do you think of this testing?


Image via Peretzp/Flickr

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