Kelley Bruce hardly consumed cannabis during her first pregnancy in 2007. Bruce was living in Virginia, which is not a cannabis-friendly state, and she was scared to medicate; she feared getting in trouble with the law, not that cannabis would harm her unborn child. Fast forward to 2010, Bruce was a single mom raising her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter in Colorado. She was injured in a car accident by a drunk driver, resulting in injuries to her lower back and neck. Under the direction and care of her doctors, she sought out cannabis and got her medical card as an alternative to pharmaceutical pain management. Thanks to cannabis she was even able to stop using her medications for ADD and Major Depressive Disorder.
Bruce was proud to use medical cannabis and remained outspoken about its benefits, which led to being reported to Child Protective Services in 2012. Bruce openly admitted to her use of cannabis and was charged with endangerment for consuming a Schedule I illicit drug in the presence of minors, even while under her legal rights within Colorado. She fought hard, turning to her community for letters attesting to her character and parenting abilities, then appealed the court’s ruling. After a two-year probation, all charges were dropped.
While Bruce was pregnant with her second child in 2015, she suffered from severe hyperemesis gravidarum. She couldn’t keep food or liquids in her stomach and consequently lost 30 pounds. She needed to figure out a way to get nutrition to herself and the baby, and doctors prescribed her Zofran. She began to educate herself about the side effects of pharmaceuticals, however, which again led her to use cannabis as an alternative medication. Bruce couldn’t find cannabis options for pregnant and nursing mothers; some dispensary budtenders even refused her service as a pregnant woman.
These experiences jaded Bruce, and she realized she needed to protect a woman’s right to choose a plant over pills. Patients should have the right to choose how they want to medicate and be provided safe access to said medicine. Bruce saw a need for an organization that would advocate for mothers who choose cannabis as a natural medicine, and subsequently founded CannaMommy in January 2017.
CannaMommy is a non-profit cannabis producer with a farm in Humboldt County. 100% of their profits fund the company’s mission, and donations received go to scientific research in cannabis and women’s health by the IMPACT Network. CannaMommy offers educational workshops and resources and partners with local government to advocate for these issues.
There is limited and conflicting research regarding the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy. Cannabis helps with the symptoms often associated with pregnancy, and some studies even show that cannabis may have positive effects on the fetus. We still restrict and prohibit cannabis for pregnant women, however, while pharmaceuticals are known to cause fatalities and birth defects. Patients are scared to even ask their doctors about cannabis use because they fear having their child taken away by Child Protective Services.
With more research and advocacy groups like CannaMommy leading the charge, perhaps mothers will one day be able to safely discuss options for consuming cannabis with their doctors—without the stigma.