Medical marijuana mom objects when doctors tell her not to breastfeed

Medical marijuana mom objects when doctors tell her not to breastfeed »Play Video

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Crystal Cain couldn't have been happier when she delivered her little girl Karrisma at OHSU on Wednesday, even though she delivered eight weeks premature and the baby needed an incubator to survive.

“She's going to be OK, they said,” Cain said. “They took her off of all of her breathing machines yesterday and they gave her a trial run and they say she's doing absolutely fine.”

Knowing how important breast milk is to a baby's immune system, Crystal planned on breastfeeding, until the baby was born Wednesday.

“They're refusing to allow me to breastfeed,” Cain says she was told that day.

Cain is a medical marijuana cardholder.

Cain had been smoking marijuana during her pregnancy, on her midwife's advice she says, for anxiety and nausea.

Cain isn't worried about THC -  the compound in marijuana that gets you high - in her bloodstream or breast milk.

“There are several studies that indicate that it doesn't, it can't transfer through your milk ducts.  Your body automatically kind of filters it,” Cain said.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against it.

OHSU decided on a middle ground.

“We had the mom sign a waiver acknowledging the use of marijuana and the potential risks involved in it.” says Dr. Charles Kilo, Oregon Health Science University’s chief medical officer.

The hospital says it's like warning a new mom against smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

“We do understand the benefits of mothers' milk,” Kilo said. “We also don't want to be caught in a situation where a mother continues to use and says that we never gave her information on it, never informed about the risks, and so it's really a way of documenting that the parents acknowledge the risks. And we can't stop her from using it.”

Crystal Cain believes more and more hospitals will have to deal with this issue because of legalization in Washington and medical marijuana use in Oregon.

“I'm saying there's not enough information because nobody tests it,” says Cain, “It's such a touchy subject that nobody wants to mess with it."