Chile: Mother Restricted Access To Baby For Smoking Marijuana
By Steve Elliott
A Chilean mother says a hospital is restricting her from seeing her newborn daughter because she admitted smoking marijuana a few days before she gave birth.
During labor, Sindy Melany Ortiz told hospital officials that she had used cannabis to relieve pain in one of her arms that had been broken, report Eva Vergara and Luis Andres Henao of the Associated Press.
Six hours after her daughter Luciana was born on November 19, a social worker and a psychologist told her that the hospital had "activated a security protocol" and that her baby was being transferred to the neonatology unit. She said that since then, she's only been allowed to see Luciana for 2.5 hours a day, and is not allowed to breast-feed her.
"The pain (in my arm) was too strong," Ortiz said. "We researched several methods to ease it and we took a decision as a family because we didn't think it would affect the baby. It wasn't recreational, it was strictly medicinal."
Hospital officials in the southern Chile city of Talcahuano claimed they were just following protocol when they told a local court they'd found traces of marijuana in the mother's system.
"We've taken actions for the greater good of the child," claimed Patricia Sanchez, acting director at the hospital. "There's nothing out of the norm, and as consequence the baby is hospitalized."
The court ordered the baby should remain at Las Higueras Hospital until a decision is made at a hearing.
Planting, selling and transporting marijuana is illegal in Chile, with prison terms up to 15 years. But the law allows medicinal cannabis use with the authorization of several government ministries.
One Chilean municipality legally harvested medical marijuana this year as part of a government-approved pilot project aimed at helping ease pain in cancer patients. Las Higueras Hospital is part of the program, along with the Daya Foundation, a nonprofit group sponsoring pain-relieving therapies.